April 22, 2010 Storm Chase – Texas Panhandle

April 22, 2010

Storm Chase

Texas Panhandle

Editor: Putnam E. Reiter

Forecast/Setup –

Risk Area: Moderate Risk
Initial Target Area: Wellington, Texas

Products

Slideshow:
Fullscreen:
Download:

Hook-Echo Discussions

Models did decent with this forecast but there are a few things to note.

1. NAM did a good job with precip in and near the threat area on Thursday. A large area of clouds with very light rain occurred along the TX/OK border and western OK. This kept temperatures in the mid 60s. In the panhandle, temperatures warmed into the mid-70s once clouds cleared.

2. NAM unforecast winds along the caprock and direction.

3. GFS was way too fast with the Pacific cold front on Friday.

4. All models were too fast with the dryline on Thursday.

The Chase –

Team 1 – Rob Ferguson, Brett LaBare, and Putnam Reiter
Miles Driven – 410 – Gas spent $40.00
Departure Time – 12:30 CDT
Return Time – 22:40 CDT

We left Oklahoma City promptly at 12:30pm and headed west on I-40. After making a brief stop at Walmart in Elk City, we continued on west to Shamrock. Another quick stop for gas and headed south on HWY 83 to Wellington. There was much discussion about the setup and what was the most favorable area given the copious amounts of clouds and drizzle in western Oklahoma. As such, we thought Memphis, Texas, would be a good spot. We got there and met up with Jay as storms developed southeast of Amarillo. I wasn’t impressed by this activity since it looked QLCS and really not that impressive on RADAR. What I should have noticed was how slow the storms were moving, indicating they were rooted in the boundary layer. Rob liked the structure, so after some discussion, we all headed north out of Memphis on HWY 287. Thinking the storm was moving faster than it actually was, we decided to turn north at Hedley 1932 to close in from the south. We turned east on 2471 and north on 273 towards McLean. Hindsight shows that we probably should have continued on to Clarendon and then gone north. Since the storm was going northeast and slowly, this would have put us in the inflow notch for the first storm and eventually the second one. As always, we are a little nervous about having our road options cutoff and the panhandle isn’t known for great road options. We also thought we’d get storm-scale features as we got under the anvil, but that didn’t happen as contrast was horrible.

We got to McLean and headed west on I-40 to Alanreed and turned north on HWY 291 to engage storm 1. Here we met up with the rest of the storm chasing community! We went a mile north and stopped to watch the storm features. A persistent lowering was noted but the RFD had cut all the way around the updraft. Also, the storm was increasing speed somewhat, so we had a tough time staying with it. Thinking that it was going to reorganize and that we needed to get north/east we headed north another mile before thinking better of this idea. The precip area had cutoff our north route and east options just didn’t exist. We turned around and headed back to the same spot as we saw a persistent wall cloud with this storm. RADAR indicated another storm was rapidly developing and we figured this would be a better option. We headed back to I-40, were we saw some poor sap missing a rear window, and went west on I-40 to Jericho (Exit 124). We jumped off I-40, good timing as traffic was stopped, and cross the Interstate to face east. We sat there and watched the second storm approach us with an impressive lowering. We really thought the storm was going to produce a tornado, but alias at this point it did not. Since the mesocyclone was nearly on-top of us, we shifted east about two miles and stopped on I-40. Seeing that this was a bad idea, we shifted another two miles east to Exit 128 or HWY 2477. Sitting here for a few minutes, jay seeing a tornado about 3-4 miles NNW of our location. The contrast was horrible, so it doesn’t show up well in video and only lasted about 30 seconds.

Seeing this, we decided to venture north a mile or so on 2477 to get a better look at the storm. As we stopped, with the remainder of the chasing community, we noted a lowering to our west and another to our NNE. The lowering to the left produced a funnel that got almost to the ground while to the NNE a tornado formed. As with the prior tornado, it was brief lasting about 30-45 seconds. Seeing that another storm was forming behind this supercell, we headed back to I-40 to get a better look at it. We got there and sat for a few minutes and Rob noted that the storms were making a rapid advancement eastward. It certainly seemed like a good time to turn tail and run as the system had gone linear. Chances of tornadoes went down as this occurred. Time was about 18:50 and it was best to head on home. We stayed on I-40 and drove into Oklahoma City after a brief stop in Sayre for gas and Weatherford for dinner.

Lessons Learned –

– Several items came out of this chase. First, AT&T sucks in the panhandle, no two ways around it. We had a heck of a time using data or cell phones. Second, LCL were so low everything that spun got called a tornado. There was on funnel in particular that registered as a tornado but no way it ever touched down. Third, no matter much I work on it, the automation always seems to screw up. Fourth, we need to cross-train for other duties when chasing.

Multimedia –

Slideshow:
Fullscreen:
Download:

Encounters –

Engaged Storm: North of Alanreed
Tornado: No
Funnel: Yes
Hail (larger than 0.75 inches): No
Wall Cloud: Yes
Wind (above 57.4 mph): No

Engaged Storm: Jericho
Tornado: Yes
Funnel: Yes
Hail (larger than 0.75 inches): No
Wall Cloud: Yes
Wind (above 57.4 mph): No

Engaged Storm: 4 East of Jericho
Tornado: Yes
Funnel: Yes
Hail (larger than 0.75 inches): No
Wall Cloud: Yes
Wind (above 57.4 mph): No

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *