Wednesday, 1 June 2016

June 1st - about to start the long journey!


Just about to leave our final motel of the trip in Abilene to head for DFW airport and the long trip home. Should be home in about 17 hours' time, or so!

May 31 - almost home time


Today we drove from Hobbs, NM, to Abilene, TX. This was basically a positioning drive in order to allow us to make the final drive back to DFW reasonably short, but not so short that we then have to spend hours at the airport.

We did pass a weak thunderstorm, and paused to look at it - we heard a nice rumble of thunder.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

May 30th

Hello. The risk of severe storms was fairly low today so we decided to try heading to Carlsbad, New Mexico, as storms like to form on the higher terrain to the west of town. They duly did so and we got some nice CG lightning. We headed east with the storms but they tended to fizzle - a big storm developed near Midland, TX, where we spent last night, but decided against heading down to it. It was very electrically active but we decided an early check-in to our hotel in Hobbs, and a dip in the pool (the latter just me) would be a nice way to end a rather relaxing day. A storm approached us in the evening with some nice lightning for a time, and very gusty winds. We can now see lightning off to the east from storms over there.

Approaching storm at Hobbs from outside our motel.

Monday, 30 May 2016

May 29th - not too much


We headed through Lubbock and down to Hobbs, New Mexico - storms were forming to our west and south-west so we headed towards Carlsbad. This severe storm promptly started to die, so we dropped down towards Pecos, Texas, where another severe storm was. This died as we approached! We figured we'd done our good deed for the day for the people of this part of the world so we paused at Pecos before heading to Odessa for the night. A gust front from storms way to the north passed through around 11pm with blowing dust for a time, which was quite cool. Overall, a day which didn't show huge promise - and didn't really deliver much for us. However, it's always nice to be driving out in the open Plains.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

May 29th thoughts


A messy picture today with models showing a number of different solutions and the analysis (below) also not giving a huge amount away. We'll probably look for the moisture tongue /currently in SE New Mexico/ to move northwards ahead of a dry line. I think we'll drop to Lubbock and then re-assess.

May 28th

One year ago on this day we saw 4 tornadoes at Canadian, in Texas. Today we passed reasonably close to the town on the lengthy haul SW from Hays to Amarillo. The weather was cracking - good visibility, mainly sunny, and a high of around 28C. We had a great meal in the evening with fellow Brit chasers Cammie, Tim, Dan, and Adam.

Tomorrow, a dry line should be in place over far west Texas or eastern New Mexico. Modest SW upper flow along with veering winds in the lower atmosphere should allow a few severe storms to develop. Some overnight convection tonight could set-up outflow boundaries, which we'll be on the look-out for.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

May 28th plan - lunch in Dodge

Plan for today is drive to Amarillo - we've just stopped for lunch in Dodge City and then will carry on to Amarillo. A risk of severe storms tomorrow in the TX Panhandle region.

May 27th report

We started the day in Dodge City. Morning analysis and model guidance showed a surface low in SW Kansas, beneath an upper low - this upper low was progged to move eastwards and open into a wave. At the surface, the low was expected to move slowly east or north-east, but perhaps then re-develop back south-westwards a bit. The rich Gulf moisture of recent days had largely been overturned by several days of storms, and cooler, somewhat drier air was moving in from the west behind the low. We decided to target a boundary to the NE of the surface low - despite the somewhat unfavourable deep-layer flow, the strongly backed surface winds might do something interesting.

We decided to head to Great Bend, and had lunch there for the second day in a row! After lunch we continued NE through Ellsworth, as cells were starting to form to our east and south-east. Indeed, this line of storms quickly started to merge and look rather unfavourable for chasing, as they were unlikely to have decent structure and had no chance of being supercells.

We paused and watched a storm to our south slowly move in. We'd noticed towering cumulus to our west, and storms were already firing in far west Kansas, suggesting that convection should turn into thunderstorms on the northern side of the upper low. We started to head west towards a developing thunderstorm, and then north towards Sylvan Grove, where the storm was moving. We paused to work out how far north to go, admiring towering cumulus building into the side of the main storm. Helen then said, 'funnel cloud' - something we often do for fun (!), but in this case, it actually was! It was under the towering cumulus building into the main storm, rather than under the main updraught. This is something which sometimes happens in these situations. After a minute or two it disappeared. We took this chance to dash a mile or two west towards the agitated base of the towering cumulus, and then it did it again - this time, about 1/2 way towards the ground, and lasted several minutes. It was great to watch, and certainly brought fully into focus why we chase! This was something we'd not seen before, i.e. a funnel cloud under the flanking line of a storm. We decided to head towards the core of the storm, but after a while decided there was nothing of much interest to see now.

Other storms were forming to the south-west, with an isolated one near Russell. We headed there and noted a decent wall cloud under a nice updraught column. A few times it looked quite close to producing a tornado but never did - I don't think the rotation was quite as strong as the storm's appearance suggested, but it was certainly pretty. We then headed a little north of town and the colours were very nice as it was around sunset. A policeman turned up - he was keeping an eye on the storm. We had a nice chat with him for 10 mins or so before we decided it was time to brave the core of the storm and head to our motel in Hays, to our west. This was quite an intense drive with frequent CG lightning and very intense rain, and a bit of hail. Clearly this was too much for one driver whose car was in a field with a few police cars in attendance - the guy seemed fine. This was a more understandable 'off' than one we'd seen earlier in the day, where a lady seemed to have just driven off the road into a field - again, people were already in attendance - she seemed fine too.

We ended the day in Applebee's, of course, in Hays. It was a great day of chasing and brought us a couple of nice surprises!

Watching a storm from a point west of Salina, looking south.

Funnel cloud number 1, near Sylvan Grove.

Funnel cloud 2, near Sylvan Grove.


Wide shot showing funnel under line of towering cumulus.

Funnel thinning.

Wall cloud near Russell.

Wide view of supercell updraught near Russell.

Supercell approaching Russell.

Sunset just north of Russell.

Friday, 27 May 2016

May 27th thoughts


We've paused in Great Bend (again!).

Morning analysis chart below - earlier thoughts as below:

Severe potential tending to decrease now. Will probably target NE of the surface low...Great Bend to Salina.

May 26th report

Today was a day which looked busy from a few days back...meaning yesterday was the classic 'day before the day'! We started in Enid and decided to head to Great Bend. Even as we left before 10am convection was already firing in the elevated mixed layer. That pretty much suggested to us at that stage it was going to be a very messy day with no obvious target or cells. After lunch in Bend we headed south and west to a cell approaching from the south. It was tornado warned but apart from lots of rain and lightning there was no structure. We let the couplet approach but it was weakening...however, we decided to move anyway when sheets of rain came racing at us. Tried other cells NE of Dodge City before deciding to book a room in Dodge and see what the developing storms near the city looked. Better structure, plenty of CGs, and even tornado warned, although it never really looked like dropping one. We then headed to our motel, fairly satisfied in the end as we didn't expect a great deal from seeing the early convection but we did some nice intercepts.

Mid-afternoon in Kansas after the first round of storms moved away.

Severe storm/supercell close to Dodge City.

Post-storm mammatus north of Dodge City.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

May 25th report


We made the long haul north into Kansas to target an area close to an outflow boundary and ahead of the dry line. In the end we saw a couple of LP type storms near Wichita, in the forecast area, but the storm of the day went up close to Salina, right on the boundary. Although this was quite far north of us, it produced a very long duration tornado - we might have been able to intercept it if we'd decided to head north quite early but as we had storms close-by we made the (wrong!) decision to stay in the south. We still saw some quite nice structure, and met up with Pete Scott and Dave Ewoldt and watched a nice sunset.

After dark we targeted a cell near Enid, Oklahoma, which was a powerful supercell. It put out a great lightning show but the brief tornadic episode was done by the time we got there.

We're staying in Enid tonight. Tomorrow looks like a N Central Kansas day but we'll decide in the morning.

The tough run for us continues whilst others have seen lots of tornadoes.

No pics today as it's late.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

May 25th thoughts

Morning. Time to let yesterday go and carry on! Rather complex set-up today and not overly conducive to severe storms. A flow of moisture continues from the south and a dry line will once again move eastwards. Outflow boundaries around N Oklahoma and S/Cent KS may help things today so we'll probably head up into Kansas.

May 24th - live by the sword...


Morning analysis and model output suggested that NW Oklahoma into parts of SW Kansas would be the ideal target area, with backed surface flow in the vicinity of an outflow boundary. We left Vernon, TX, at around midday and headed north, stopping for lunch in Sayre. We decided to live by the sword and try our luck with a bit more of a marginal chance in the Texas Panhandle. Why? For one, various models suggested supercells would develop, and for another, because many, many chasers were on the northern target and we fancied a storm with few others around - you never know, it might just produce something magical! As it turned out, we found a decent low-precipitation supercell - it was even tornado-warned for a time, although visually it never looked in danger of producing one - rather high based. To the north, the masses of chasers up there got to witness a fairly rare cyclical supercell, which produced numerous tornadoes. Our gamble hadn't paid off - at least tornadoes occurred where we expected them too, we just tried our luck!

Tomorrow is another day and the feeling will soon pass - we did get to witness a spectacular LP storm, which, on many days would more than suffice - indeed, it's a sight which we just don't see back home! We ended the day in Altus, Oklahoma - we'd noted earlier that the Hampton Inn was right next door to Applebee's, and so we headed over. As I was hungry, tired, and tornado-starved I simply asked the first person I saw when we walked in for a table for two...she looked rather surprised and walked off. Rude, I thought. Then Helen pointed out she was simply a customer and not a member of staff. I then asked the next person - I was hungry - luckily this person was something to do with the restaurant and took us to the further table away from the door...probably a punishment for talking to one of their customers.

A few pics of the LP storm below.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Lunch in Sayre


Just having lunch in Sayre, Oklahoma. Backed surface flow is still across NW OK and SW/Cent KS although some backing of the flow is also occurring across the eastern TX Panhandle, as the surface trough to the west deepens somewhat. Just hanging for a little while to see what happens - it still looks like NW OK and the surrounding area looks best but I quite like the backing flow in the eastern TX Panhandle, especially with higher dewpoints.

May 23rd report


A very quick summary as it's very late! We targeted the eastern Texas Panhandle - we saw a low precipitation supercell NW of Memphis, TX, but this died out after a while. We then headed south in the general direction of Turkey (well, east then SW). A messy set of cells were there but eventually a supercell developed on the southern side and spat out plenty of CG lightning, and then produced a couple of nocturnal tornadoes, around 2145 to 2200 or so. We saw the second, which was a large wedge tornado. We drove to Vernon for the night - it's now 02:25! We had microwave chips from Wal*Mart, and I had a burger thing.

Funny car thing, like a play on Cadillac Ranch...but with Beetles.

Cell goes up NW of Memphis.

Split supercell, with a very weak left split (right hand side) and the dominant cell (centre).

Supercell at Turkey.

Weird and wonderful cloudscapes at the back of the cell.

CG barrage - plenty of these from this storm!

Another CG.

Large nocturnal tornado east of Turkey.

Monday, 23 May 2016

May 23rd plans


An earlier analysis showed an outflow boundary across NW TX, with a cold front up in SW KS, and another OFB across south-cent KS too. The higher instability should be across the southern OFB area but the northern target looks interesting too. We'll make a decision fairly soon!

May 22nd report


We decided to target the dry line today in the western Texas Panhandle. Storms formed to our east in the deeper moisture, perhaps along a subtle moisture gradient. We didn't target these and chose to await development closer to hand. Unfortunately for us, this did not occur. In the end we headed east to catch at least some lightning, etc, from those storms around Clarendon, Texas. There was quite a bit of street flooding and there was a brief moment of worry when a car coming the other way down the dual carriageway hit a flood and span out into the median. We thought for a second it was coming over to our side, but thankfully it didn't. We slowed to see if they were OK but the were driving off so we figured they were fine.

We headed back to Amarillo for the night, in the same motel as last night, and next door to last night's room!

It was something of a frustrating day - not for being out on the Plains and seeing thunderstorms - but simply as the target did not verify. But that's chasing and tomorrow's another day!

Swirling tube of cloud from a decaying cumulus, Hereford, TX.

Marginal structure on a cell in cold outflow air, south of Clarendon, TX.

Lightning SE of Amarillo.

Sunset SE of Amarillo.


Sunday, 22 May 2016

Lunch in Hereford

Hello. Just having lunch in Hereford, TX, the self proclaimed beef capital of the world. I had turkey for lunch. A mesoscale discussion has been issued for much of this area and so we're awaiting development.

MD 676 graphic

A dry line bulge is evident on radar to our SW...this may aid initiation as well as helping surface winds to back.

May 22nd thoughts


Starting the day in Amarillo, and there is quite a large risk area today. Anywhere from parts of SW Nebraska down towards west Texas has a risk of severe storms. We'll target the TX risk area, as storms are expected to form along the dry line with diffluent upper flow aloft. In addition, there appears to be a subtle shortwave, on water vapour imagery, moving through Arizona at the moment, which should reach west Texas this afternoon. Various convection-allowing model guidance show thunderstorms developing, although, as you'd expect, in somewhat different places. A rather persistent signal for a slow-moving cell, evolving into a small SE'wards moving cluster, appears to be south of Lubbock. We'll probably drop down towards Lubbock and await developments.

The image below is a subjective analysis of the situation - a dry line is over eastern N Mexico, with a feed of moist south-easterly winds to its east.

May 21st report

Hello there.

Today panned out reasonably as expected. A tornadic supercell developed in Kansas, which looked a reasonable bet, but we didn't target that area, partly due to the long drive, but also partly because we wanted to chase west Texas and enjoy a rather relaxed chase seeing storms which few other chasers did.

We headed NW from Snyder, having lunch in Levelland - you can imagine how flat the area is around there! After lunch we headed towards Morton, and, via several stops for photos and decisions, we headed towards Farwell, on the Texas/New Mexico border. As we turned NE from there, we briefly (for literally 10 seconds) were in New Mexico, our second state of the trip, but then were straight back into Texas again. Storms had developed, and we then spent the remainder of the afternoon and into the evening slowly moving along with them - a couple showed some supercell structure for a time, which looked pretty. At sunset, one storm dissipated in the fashion of an LP supercell. Lightning was rather infrequent, which was a shame as we were in the perfect landscape for some great lightning shots.

We headed to Amarillo for the night and had dinner in Applebee's - a line of storms has formed in eastern New Mexico, and we could see the lightning 75 miles to the west, when we got back to the hotel. Not sure whether they will make it here, or move past NW of us.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Luncheon in Levelland

Hello. Just stopped for some lunch (Subway, of course!) at Levelland, Texas. To the west, we can see the familiar sight of distant towering cumulus clouds as circulations close to a somewhat diffuse dry line start to deepen. After lunch we'll continue westwards.

May 21st plans

Good morning.

A glance out the window here in Snyder, TX, shows low stratus clouds streaming northwards on a southerly breeze, always an encouraging sight for storm chasers, as it demonstrates that a return flow of Gulf moisture is underway.

Today, a bulge in the dry line across western Kansas along with a nearby warm front mean that this area could be most likely to have supercells, and perhaps a tornado or two. For us, that would mean a ~400 mile drive northwards - do-able, of course! However, I think we're more interested in hanging around the dry line in west Texas/E New Mexico. Several models depict convection brewing this afternoon, with enough instability and shear for the risk of supercells - large hail is the prime threat, but a very small tornado risk exists too. Storm motions should be pretty slow, at around 10-15 knots to the east, and perhaps more south-east if a small cluster develops. 

Arrived in Snyder, TX.


We knew today would be a driving day to get north for the increasing storm chances over the next few days. Ideally, Amarillo would probably have been our overnight stop - but we couldn't really be bothered to do that much driving! Lubbock was the choice, but due to some kind of graduation thing there were no rooms left...or rather, there were a few, but as they were priced over $200 we decided against it! We decided to stop over in Snyder, TX. at the brand new Hampton Inn - it still smells of paint! Decent place, though.

We had dinner at Whataburger - it was OK, not quite the same as last night's fare though!

Tomorrow brings a risk of severe storms from portions of SW Kansas into west Texas/eastern New Mexico. We'll assess the info in the morning to pick a target area - SW Kansas has a nice dry-line bulge progged, along with a warm front close-by, but the moisture may be more limited than further south. Across Texas, moisture will be richer but the dry line may be a bit more diffuse, of may exhibit some kind of double structure, as some models prog a surge of deeper tropical moisture coming in from the south-east through the afternoon. It's possible storms may form in eastern New Mexico along the 'main' dry line, and a few others could form to the east, in upslope flow up the Caprock. Whilst upper flow will not be too high, strong veering with height along with reasonable instability should allow isolated to scattered severe thunderstorms, perhaps supercells to form in E New Mexico/W TX, especially later in the day. Other storms will likely form across SW Kansas near the aforementioned boundaries, and may grow into a small cluster in the evening and propagate south-east into the increasing moisture/low-level jet.

Friday, 20 May 2016

May 20th plans - northwards!


Today's plan is quite simple - head north in anticipation of an increasing severe weather threat over the next few days. We wanted to head to Lubbock today but most motels seem to be fully booked - there must be some kind of event on. We considered Amarillo, but decided it's a bit too far. In the end we've opted for Snyder, Texas.

Tomorrow, moist south-easterly winds at the surface combined with west or south-westerly winds aloft should help set up a dry line over the Texas Panhandle. Isolated to scattered thunderstorms, some severe, should develop.

May 19th - beach day!


We decided that we would stay another day by the beach, so we didn't rush to get up. After some coffee (made with bottled water as the whole of Corpus Christi is on a boil water notice, due to E.coli in the water supply) we decided we'd head out down the beach in a beach buggy/golf cart-type thing. We rented one for 3 hours and started of southwards along the beach. You can actually drive your car on the beach too, and there were quite a few people doing just that.

After a while we stopped and watched the sea for a bit. We knew storms to the west and north-west were closing in, and so we decided to head back to the hotel. As we were driving back the sky to the north-west was an obsidian dark grey. As we got back to the hotel thunder boomed to the north-west and the rain soon arrived - this was heralded by a cool gust of wind just before we got back. We're not sure if this is the first storm 'chase' via a buggy!

It then lashed it down for a while with flashes of lightning and booms of thunder - we decided to go out in the car to get some lunch from the nearby Subway. The 2 second leap from the car into the store still saw us get drenched, such was the intensity of the tropical downpour!

We took the food back to our room at ate it there - we waited for a bit and the rain/storms moved away, so we headed back our for the remainder of our 3 hours with the buggy. We headed south again after a brief jaunt the other way (there was no access to the beach that way). We got a bit further south than the first attempt - we stopped again and watched the birds and the sea. We then headed back as it was about 25 mins back to the hotel. We dropped the buggy off and headed back to the room.

We then headed to the beach and I did some filming in the sea with my GoPro 4 camera. A still from this is below.

After a while, and a quick shower, we headed back to the same burger joint as last night for dinner. Afterwards we took a little drive on the beach in the car before heading back to the hotel.

Buggy before we headed off for the second time.

Blowing sand.



Helen and buggy.

Helen in buggy.

My leg from Go Pro.

Storm approaching hotel as we raced back from the first outing!


Car on beach after dinner.