Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Great storms and some structure too!

This morning we woke to find the SPC had placed a slight risk across west Texas and eastern New Mexico. We had thought something might fire but circumstances had got a little better through the night - for example, some elevated storms had left something of a boundary, and also put a little more moisture into the air.

We headed to Clovis for lunch and noted storms firing to the west and north-west, over the higher ground of New Mexico. Guidance and past experience suggested that these would eventually coalesce into a line of south-eastwards moving storms with wind/hail, but initially the development was more isolated.

We headed west and then north to Tucumcari, where we saw a great high-based storm with copious amounts of CG lightning, and some wind/hail too. We headed east and got ahead of the developing line of storms to see some nice outflow features. We then had to continue east to get away from the core.

An isolated storm had been going for some time to the north of Adrian, Texas, and was now moving slowly southwards. This direction placed the storm in a favourable inflow regime to become a supercell, and it duly did. We approached this southwards moving supercell from the west, a reasonable direction in these circumstances. The structure was pretty stunning, as the Go Pro images below show. A tornado was reported by chasers at about the time of these pics, and we noticed an interesting feature as we drove, and the pics seem to also show it - this *may* be the tornado, but we can't be sure.

As we got closer to the storm, it became apparent that the RFD was full of reasonably large hail (1 inch or so), driven on by a strong wind. We decided to wait for the main core to cross I-40 before continuing eastwards. Not more than a couple of miles to the east the road suddenly was covered in 2-3 inches of hail, and the rapid cooling of the moist air above by the ice generated copious amounts of blowing hail fog. Needless to say the driving conditions were pretty appalling and we pulled off at Adrian to await the melting of the hail and clearing of the fog. The fog continued to blow past for a good 15-20 mins, and the temp dropped to about 6-7C!

Eventually we headed to Amarillo, where we've checked in for the night. We met Paul Sherman and the Netweather chase crew at Applebee's, and swapped storm stories - they were in a better position to see the brief tornado.

All in all a great chase day on a marginal set-up!

Supercell - *possible* view of the tornado to left of road.


Closer view of supercell


Lightning and me!

Hail covering road and hail fog

Hail at petrol station in Adrian

Hail covering ground at Adrian

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