Yesterday Chris and I decided to take our chances on storms forming out in the Texas Panhandle. Our usual M.O. is to get to our chase target literally as storms are firing. I don’t know how we do it, it’s just how we do. But for once the storms started without us—exceedingly early. Around 2:30pm the first storm was tornado-warned.
We opted not to chase the first storm as it was heading north, and instead went after the storms just south of it. It didn’t take long for the first storm to go tornado-warned, and we drove into its projected path. Not wanting to introduce my car to a hail core, we kept mostly out of the storm and stayed quite a ways ahead of it. Even still, at one point Chris had me pull over so he could film “something that looked tornado-y” (that’s my term for it), and he jumped out of the car to film what looked to me like a pile of dust. It was when Chris pointed to the right of the dust, beyond the doorframe, that I could see what he was talking about. Cue tornado #1, followed by a brief land spout!
Note: Yes, I squealed a little about a land spout because it’s only the second one I’ve ever seen. Also, this was the first one I’ve seen that wasn’t almost entirely rain-wrapped, a-thank-ya-very-much.
We met up with a few chaser buddies, then took off back east for another tornado-warned storm, this one slightly more isolated. No sooner do we practically reach our target than the storm we had previously been on became tornado-warned again. And again. And…well, you get the idea. So we hung out in a little town by the name of Wheeler. As our same storm approached from the west, all sorts of interesting features made themselves present. At one point the scud (essentially clouds forming and being sucked up into the storm) was so thick that it looked like a tornado, but it was all pretty much motionless. Even still, the radar indicated something nasty might be hidden inside the storm and we kept an eye on it. No tornado did drop that we could tell (and the town remained safe), but we did have a gustnado (a rotation that’s ground-based, and not attached to a funnel coming from the storm) form right on top of us, tossing some debris and scaring the crap out of yours truly. It didn’t do any damage beyond my dignity and disappeared quickly. We stuck around to run into a few more friends, saw the TIV, got hit by a few itty bitty hailstones, and then took off for home. We figured one tornado was enough for the day, right?
On the way back I was shooting lightning as it shot out of the top of a storm to our east. We didn’t think much of the little sucker, even though it was slightly ahead of the line and was also hanging out in some rather favorable warm, moist air. By the time I snapped my 30th lightning shot, Chris said “um, isn’t that tornado warned?” I looked down and said, “Oh! Um, yeah, so it is. Maybe we should exit up here.”
We decided to take the road parallel to I-40, which just so happens to be Historic Route 66. No sooner did we pull off the road did we notice a bowl-shaped lowering to the right of the road. We caught it on film, from touchdown to power flashes to rope out, and then continued on our way home. Want to see it? Voila!
And here’s a timelapse from our dashcam that I almost always forget about.
I would say this trip was successful, because: tornadoes south and hot snowy mess up north. Two tornadoes after a year and a half of nothing. Bring on the rest of 2015!