Video (first half is a few days later in Kansas; second half is the Texas Twisters from 6/12):
Today was suggested to be a big day due to the instability and jet digging
in. We headed east and south from Plainview. There blew up two large
storms and we were positioned well between the two. The northern storm was
by far the largers storm and so we targeted it. It ended up dying and the
southern storm was exploding so we went south. This storm ended up being
on a squall line so we focused on the southern storm. Bill’s friends at
the Lubbock office called and told us the sheriff had reported a tornado with
the second to last storm and so we headed fast and furious to that storm.
We had to punch the tip of the core to get there and when the base of the storm
came into view we knew we’d be in for a treat. We watched as a large wedge
was formed and touch the ground. This beast became rain wrapped and we
moved to beat the hail wrapped core. We proceeded to see multiple vortex
and another cone and ended up with a roping out elephant trunk. In total,
we counted 5 tornados from this supercell.
There is a 1/2 mile wide tornado that is rain and dirt wrapped in there, don’t
be fooled…it was rotating VERY fast!
My still shots of this multiple vortex tornado (yes, one tornado with two-three
littler tornados in it…these tornados were rotating around each other).
This came out of a new mesocyclone base after the wedge dissapated (at least we
think, the wedge could still be rain wrapped behind and to the left…we got the
hell out of there so we’re not sure). I concentrated on video at this
point and don’t have captured images from that yet.
At this time we saw that the last storm in the squall line (one storm south)
was growing enormous and was swallowing this already huge storm. We drove
fast and furious and upon diving out from the forward flank downdraft we saw a
huge horseshoe shaped wall base with a wall cloud. This never really
shaped up to much so we ended up driving away and viewing this storm from a
distance. This was a HUGE storm that took up several counties. We
saw amazing anvil crawling lightening and beautiful striated mammatus.
The above two pictures are of a wall cloud under this monster. You can
see from the two pictures the downward motion of the wall cloud, we really
thought it was going to tornado. Behind it is the rear flank downdraft
(RFD) hole…you would not want to be right under this hole as you’d probably
experience 100 mph winds and softball hail. And yes, there was rapid
rotation in these clouds at this time.
Rapidly rotating funnel with tail cloud that was very active, but didn’t put
down any tornado. This beast was so huge and so efficient it didn’t have a
chance to make a tornado…there was just too much rain cooled air falling down
through the RFD and cooling the inflow too much.
This is a typical shot from the trip. The above radar shows this super
cell. It probably took up at least one whole county and a 1/3 of all the
counties surrounding it. Maybe 50 miles at the base?
These are called Puscular Rays. You are looking at blue sky with a
little bit of the anvil at the top of the photo. I haven’t quite learned
exactly what causes this, but it is like a rainbow effect, there is refraction
of light around the supercell forming a “inverted shadow” of sorts on the
horizon. That is the while triangle.
Picture from our ride away from this storm after sunset. Incredible
storm structure, but it would require a fish-eye lens to do the storm justice.
Notice the shelf cloud sucking in moisture from the lower level of the
atmosphere (950 mb). Then the inflow right above it sucking in mid-level
moisture (700 mb), then the anvil way above that. This middle inflow band
demonstrates the amount of rotation in this storm as it is bent around from
behind the storm. This was a very healthy storm that died about a couple
hours after sunset due to the loss of heating.
The first tornado was the largest of the trip, we figure 1/2 mile wide at the
base. We saw several trees fly up and also several power transformer
explosions. A couple of towns were in the wake of some serious hail
problems associated with this storm.
Day #5. 6/11/2005. Texas Panhandle Supercells and Tornado
We targeted the Texas panhandle today as there were several boundaries
forming with lots of moisture (even though it was somewhat cool for Texas in
June). We drove from Dodge City to just south of Amarillo and sat around
and watched the clouds waiting for one to blossom. It took storms a little
while to get going, but once they did we had a choice of one by Hereford and
another outside of Amarillo. We took the Amarillo storm because it was the
first and most impressive. As we drove close we found another classic
supercell, but this was fairly small in nature. We watched a big wall
cloud approach NW Amarillo and it kept trying persistently forming wall clouds,
but there was just not enough juice for it to take off. We heard that the
southern storm was taking off and so we left the Amarillo storm as it was
putting on a nice lowering, but the rotation had pretty much ended. Again,
like every day, we heard the sirens go off and everyone came rushing out of
restaurants, stores and their cars to see the large dark cloud coming their way.
The city was a zoo, so that finalized our decision to get the hell out of town
as it would be hard to chase in a city.
We picked off a southern storm that had a history of a tornado and it was a
monster. Absolutely huge storm. This storm was trying to get with it
and kept forming new wall clouds that were impressive. Finally, once we
thought the storm was going to give up, once wall cloud formed with a funnel.
The funnel eventually dropped for a small cone tornado. We think it may
have put down two tornadoes, but until we review the video we can’t be sure.
We moved to get a closer view but we ended up in a mess with lots of rain.
We immediately went south as the rain was not linear (meaning it was curving
around) and we watched a huge funnel from less than 1/4 mile away while in the
bear’s cage. After having enough and knowing that the funnel was going to
come down, we moved another mile to the south and watched the rain wrapped
circulation head off in the distance. The national weather service issued
a tornado for this rain wrapped whatever, but we only saw the huge funnel and
didn’t ever see a tornado. At this time baseball sized hail was falling
just north of where we were. I unfortunately didn’t get any stills but I
should have some video.
The national weather service got a report on this storm that there was a
tornado on the ground, but it only looked like rain-filled downdraft (with no
rotation) so we are not counting this as a tornado. The tornado I only
have on video and don’t have a way to capture it for viewing just yet.
We then watched a new storm form right behind it and it got quite organized
putting quite a show. We were directly under the clouds with all sorts of
eddys and rotation and scud building everywhere from the strong inflow.
I’ve never seen cloud motion like this, hopefully the video comes out. We
watched this storm go off into the distance while getting eaten alive by
mosquitoesas it got dark. We were going to sleep in Amarillo but two
monster hail storms got between us and flooded the interstate with tons of water
and very large hail and we were stuck going south to Plainview for the night.
The target area is the eastern Texas Panhandle or western Oklahoma or Kansas.
We’ll see what the outflow boundaries look like from today’s monstrous hail
Today was foretasted by everyone to be a great tornado day in the Texas
Panhandle. There was a very strong upper level trough coming through that
would for sure initiate convection, and there was a dryline and frontal boundary
to make a second day of a classic triple-point. The triple-point was
looking to be down outside of Clovis New Mexico and into the west central Texas
Panhandle. We started off the day in Dodge City Kansas and headed south.
After analyzing data we were really confused because the trough was out of
phase, meaning it was too early in the day and there wasn’t enough heating for
the really deep convection. Therefore everything started going bananas
around 1:00 and since there was little cap everything was free to explode.
This is not what you want because every storm will fight for the deep energy and
instability in the lower atmosphere. We decided to stay north and targeted
the first supercell in the rich atmosphere in SW Kansas.
We watched the storm as it kept producing wall clouds but they were really
not that impressive. This storm could not get organized enough before the
early morning big sloppy storms from the central panhandle started to seed the
northern storms. We know we would only have a small window (maybe 2 hours)
of time before this would happen and ruin any chance of the northern target area
taking off, and it just didn’t get organized in time. We then targeted
another good looking storm in the extreme western Oklahoma panhandle and by the
time we got there the storm was just a squall line with a nice looking shelf
cloud (another whale’s mouth type of formation) but nothing severe. At
least we weren’t the only people that busted today, everyone did as there were
no tornadoes that any chaser saw anywhere…shows how the Storm Prediction
Center’s models can be way off based on a single, early morning storm complex
ruining the environment, and the upper level disturbance coming in way too
After dark we can see a nice supercell on radar and great lightening show
around Amarillo, but none of us were in the mood to drive 1.5 hours to chase a
storm in the damaged atmosphere after dark.
These pictures are examples of the wall clouds we saw today. There was
definite rotation and they kept trying to re-organize with strong inflow, but
the southern storm complex kept feeding outflow aloft into this storm ruining
its chances for tonadogenesis. You can see in this picture two wall
clouds, one is dying and the other is accepting all the inflow.
Tomorrow is looking like a good day on the Raton ridge in either southern
Colorado or northern New Mexico, and Sunday could be the last good day of the
tour. I think we’ve maxed out on our outbreaks