Cyclone Road


Sunday, June 14, 2009

From west of Roaring Springs on RR684, about 2045z, when the storm was ~6 wsw of Matador.

On our way home, Bob Fritchie, Rachael Sigler, and I observed moderate to severe damage to a few homes and other infrastructure about five miles east of Aspermont on 380, damage we all thought consistent with a tornado. One home was almost completely destroyed while others had serious roof damage. Street signs were down and a massive power pole lay across the highway. This was a real mess.

As for our earlier chase day, we caught the Matador storm early, with a view of the updraft probably 20 minutes before its first tornado warning. This is when I hoped it might tornado, though initiation was both earlier and most widespread than I'd hoped, forcing the storm to mature in even weaker than expected shear. Once again cap concerns were misplaced.

Though our storm held its own as a discrete and highly-photogenic supercell for nearly an hour, the continual mergers from the south took their toll and forced the storm to grow in areal coverage. I was impressed as hell how the storm repeatedly reconfigured itself despite sliding out from under the best shear as it moved southeast. The large RFD on the southern tier drove an impressive dust wall forward, making it hard to see anything back up in the rain. We felt like something was in there, however, given the clearly strong inflow into that area.

We stayed with it from Dougherty to approx 5 west of Guthrie when it looked so poor visually and on radar that we abandoned it for a Hail Mary drive for the Silverton storm back to our northwest. We were headed west for two scans when the storm reorganized, with the larger, embedded rotation that I assume was responsible for the damage along 380. We could never regain position and stopped to eat in Aspermont.

Around 2141z after storm had suffered several mergers from southern convection, more of an HP-hybrid with continuous rotation, which may have been responsible for the severe damage at Aspermont later.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Good morning, moderate risk & the chase season that would not die.

Friday, June 12, 2009

~2220z, about 5 miles south-southeast of Jacksboro, TX. Shot from about 4-6 miles away.

I posted to some friends at lunchtime that I thought a brief spin-up was possible early in the evolution of any storms in N TX, but I didn't put my money where my mouth was and I waited to leave until the watch came out. This surely cost me a better vantage point. I expect Sam B will have nice images from his position in or around Jacksboro.

Not only did I leave later than I should, but I waited around in Bridgeport to see how the multi-cell cluster that formed early would shape up, and if the southern convection would dominate or be ingested into the northern cell. When the southern cell organized and turned hard right, I turned south at Vineyard, Texas (west of Runaway Bay) on SR 1156 to maintain position, which is where I spotted the lowering far to the west, and the subsequent tornado. My best guess is that it was on the ground between five and seven minutes, starting around 2218z.

I followed the cell all the way to I-20 and witnessed a few more threatening lowerings, but never saw the reported tornadoes in Weatherford, though I was in the city at the time. The Parker County Skywarn net enjoyed some unusual reports after the first confirmed tornado. Things got a little wacky. This storm produced 40 to 50 knot gusts and multiple reports of golfball to occasional baseball hail.

The terrain didn't help matters. There were times that the only way to maintain line of sight with the wallcloud was to look down a road directly at the lowering in order to remove as many trees from the view as possible. I was lucky to have seen this at all. I could have easily continued south on 1156 and, because of how the western side of the road was lined with trees almost continuously, missed the whole thing.

Good to meet up with Erik Burns during the chase today, too.

Observed a seven-minute, cone tornado in Jack Cty tonight. Touchdown approx 22:15z. Pics and details in a few hours.

North Central Texas is about to see another spring/summer hybrid northwest flow, mongo CAPE event and so I need to put a few reminders to myself about all my busts in the last few days. Too many of these and I start to mix them up.

TUESDAY JUNE 9: ICT to Independence, Kansas: multicell storms along a boundary that moved too far south too quickly, pinched warm sector with veered surface flow. One tornado-warned storm produced a 50kt gust measured by Paul Stofer. Chased with Paul, Mike Mezeul, and hung out later with Scott Blair. Drove back to Denton that night.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 10, DTO: Minding my own business watching WALL-E at home when I learned about the tornado warning for Wise County. I was not anxious to climb back in my car, and after I raced north to find an outflow dominant lead cell, and then back south to see the same thing along I-35W, I found the most interesting observations in my own backyard where the pastoral little creek had become a raging mini-river carrying medium size tree trunks. This thing was moving faster than when I floated the Platte. I videotaped the flooding and will post that sometime before 2012.

THURSDAY JUNE 11: NO CHASING!!!!! Jesus Christ.

FRIDAY JUNE 12: MD just issued. Will have to remount the antenna in a moment, probably.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Finished chasing the glorified popcorn storms in west central Texas a few moments ago. The only legitimate supercell near Aspermont to Hamlin wrapped up nicely for a time, produced weak but defined rotation under the base, then blew itself all over the prairie within minutes of SJT's tornado warning. Couldn't handle the pressure I suppose. The problem here might not have been dewpoint depressions; inflow was around 82F at 2330z and I'm guessing the Tds were mid 60s. I noticed several of the other, smaller storms back to the east split soon after intensifying and this one, too, put some unfortunate daylight between its only real hook and the core, giving itself one last occlusion. I guess our hodos were pretty straight.

Now I go home to use my washing machine before turning back for Kansas in the morning.

Most importantly, I was stunned to learn tonight of the death of Fabian Guerra, an enthusiastic and talented chaser who was killed swerving to avoid a deer on his way to meet chase partners in Iowa. Fabian leaves behind his wife and two young children and it's a terrible tragedy. I met him at one of the conventions in Denver, perhaps '05, and chatted with him online and by phone several times through the years. Also met up with him in the field. He'll be sorely missed.

This makes me particularly mindful of something unusual that happened today: I ran into both Mike Hollingshead and Shane Adams during this day, long enough to chat with both of them briefly. The three of us started chasing around the same time and it's always good (and important) to see old friends. Also saw Tony Laubach, but he was engaged with the duties of his scientific team. I snapped off a salute as he and the Twistex armada rolled past.

Our own chase was eventful if less than fruitful. With Blair, Currens, Fritchie, and Sigler, we began the day in Carroll, Iowa and headed southwest, though as it turned out we could have stuck around I-80 apparently and played the boundary. But our concern was initiation and instability, among other factors. After reaching different targets, our group reconvened around the storm west of DuBois, Nebraska. This convection generated a lowering and an impressive RFD cut before eventually tilting over dramatically and weakening under the influence of a cold pool from a new storm to the east. We raced to cut in front of this new development and, on the Missouri side of the Missouri River, found ourselves below the couplet of an intense and rotating supercell. In the hills and trees it was stressful trying to identify features and dodge the monster hail which shattered Bob Fritchie's back hatch window and caved in Scott Blair's front windshield. I don't know how I avoided an impact given how these giant stones fell all around my vehicle as I crept through the core, holding my breath. The first time I've had good luck inside a damaging hail core.

Circus-style wrapping rain curtains, various funnels and rumors of funnels, and several narrow, winding roads made for a nail-biting twenty minutes until we regained position on the storm sufficient to identify features calmly.

Eventually we witnessed the storm's most dramatic lowering and occlusion west of Maysville, but I never saw a tornado. On our way home, Bob, Rachael, measured a 55mph wind gust from the northern edge of an MCS near Emporia, Kansas. Unfortunately the rain and winded tested Bob's plastic and duct tape repair job and some water leaked into his SUV. We were all happy to reach the motel room tonight safe and sound.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

We found a small rise overlooking a rolling valley. I'll never tell where, but there was an old homestead with the 19th century residence, only the stones around the base of the home remaining, and a later, 20th century version, which looked to have been built in the 40's or 50's and abandoned forty years later or so. Here's what we saw from there.

A few quickly prepared images before sleep. Full account tomorrow or soon after.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Small non-severe shower in the northern Texas Panhandle around 2330z

I observed the Hartley County, Texas storm this afternoon while on my way north to position for Friday. Saw very little of interest and did not observe the reported gustnado which prompted the first tornado warning. Later I observed the little shower above, far more photogenic than the Hartley storm for the background of rich blues and vibrant greens, the stunning palette of the high plains.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Outflow dominant storm approaches a home outside Lariat, Texas near the Texas/New Mexico border. June 2nd, 7:03pm CT.

Same storm about thirty minutes earlier.

Mammatus over Amarillo on June 1 outside WT Professor David Horsley's home.

I'm in the panhandle helping a friend find a place to live and chasing a few storms in the meanwhile. Serious chase activities should begin this weekend.

On Tuesday June 2, because I wasn't able to leave Amarillo until 20z, I chased north of the outflow boundary and tried to maximize photo ops. A few small cells developed west of Littlefield before a larger storm fired on the dryline in extreme eastern New Mexico. This one strengthened as it drifted toward an outflow and grew dramatically just west of the border, but turned outflow dominant before any large scale rotation could begin. I stayed ahead of an impressive gust front for about an hour before calling the day.

Blog Front Page