West Texas Tornadoes

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Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: April 29, 2009
Chase Partners:
David Drummond

Chasers Encountered:
Tony Laubach, Graham Butler, Reed Timmer

Miles Logged: 386
States Chased: TX
Tornadoes Witnessed: 5
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

David Drummond and I started the day off at his house near Lubbock, with an almost perfect forecast. I am still somewhat new to chasing, but David showed me how to do some hand mapping of surface observations. Plenty of boundaries showed up on the surface charts and on the Visible Satellite. We originally came up with a target of Plainview, TX.

David and I took our time to get going, and then headed up towards our target. Storms started initiating on our drive up, and we intercepted the cell as it was still building, and had 2 rain cores.

The storm moved eastward, and David and I met up with Graham Butler and his girlfriend Presley just northwest of Plainview. David did a quick phoner for the 5pm newscast on KCBD before we crossed I-27. The storm started getting it’s act together, then started outflowing. A ton of dust got stirred up over Plainview, which made for some good video. Then some gustnado looking things spun up, but I’m pretty sure they were actually tornadic. The dust swirl underneath a rotating wall cloud had multi-vortices before dissipating.

We moved east a bit, and caught another dust swirl under a rotating wall cloud. I reported that as a Tornado in NWSChat. We also got a few 1″ pieces of hail which we measured and reported.

We then got further south and as we were turning onto Ranch Road 97, another chaser pointed behind us. We looked to see tornado #3 roping out. We continued a bit east towards the main area of rotation before stopping. We were stopped maybe a minute before tornado #4 touched down. This one turned into a large cone tornado. David and I decided to punch east, and get in front of it, narrowly missing being runover by it. The rest of the experience can only best be described with video below.

After the tornadoes, we all ended up on dirt roads. Reed Timmer and his crew appeared to be getting stuck, and so were we. A pickup truck with Michigan plates and rear wheel drive got stuck as well. David took over driving (I had been driving previously) and we started heading back west to get out of the muddy roads. Graham managed to get stuck as well with his 4 wheel drive Tahoe.

We ran into Tony Laubach and the Discovery crew with him before going further west. I had to get out and push David through the mud, and then he kept going while I ran behind the van getting soaked. It must have been a pretty funny sight.

We had to stop and break my old tripod and use the legs to get the mud out of the wheel wells since the rear tires stopped moving. I started dumping video after this and we went to the KCDB station to edit video and David did an interview for the camera.