Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: April 24, 2011
Miles Logged: 684
States Chased: TX
Tornadoes Witnessed: 1
Highest Wind Encountered: 75MPH
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

Morning Forecast & Departure

Woke up and made a forecast before heading out the door around noon. We were getting some much needed rain, which made loading the car very wet. My original target was Jacksboro, Texas, so I headed out towards I-44. The idea was to go down towards Wichita Falls and made a decision on which direction to head from there.

As it would turn out, I’d head towards Graham where I’d stop to refuel and put rain-x on my windshield. The first storms had already fired to my southwest, and were riding the warm front.

Dewpoint map for April 24, 2011

Missed the first tornado

I had made it down to Breckenridge when reports came up of tornadoes down near Abilene. Eric Treece had texted me and told me Andy Gabrielson had a tornado on his stream. Unfortunately, I was still around 40 minutes out.

First cell near Moran

I raced south on 183 and headed east towards Moran. FM 576 was closed, so I had to take some dirt road detours. I eventually caught up with the storm near Moran. It had produced a tornado earlier, but had since crossed the warm front. I needed to continue south.

I decided to bail southwest towards the next cell which was coming out of Abilene. I navigated my way down to I-20. As soon as I made it to 20, I saw a tornado report come in. I was still about 5 miles out from the storm. I looked at the report and it had been reported by Connor. I got on I-20 and headed

Baird Texas Tornado

I headed west to the US283 Baird exit and shot north. There was a lot of chasers pulled off looking to the north. The wall cloud seemed to be due north of me, crossing the road to my north. I had to slow down and let it pass by before continuing north. My original plan was to get up a couple more miles to the east road. Somewhere, short of the east road option, debris started raining down on me in the form of tree branches, rocks and leaves.

I realized quickly that a tornado had touched down somewhere very nearby. During later analysis, it appeared to be a rope off the side of the wall cloud. I flipped a U-turn and headed back southbound in a panic. The tornado was in the field right next to me, and my car was getting hit by sticks and rocks.

I dropped back to I-20 and sat for a minute to catch my thoughts. I was unsure of how I ended up in the situation I did. I hung out in Baird and uploaded video as the storm crossed the front.

Dropping South

The tail end charlie cell was looking good, so I decided to start heading that way. It became tornado warned very quickly after I started south on US283. That would become my target storm.

I ended up on a north-south ranch road since the area was devoid of other roads. I stopped in the path and let the storm come to me, and witnessed what looked like a tornado. It was hard to tell from terrain and distance.

Downhill in a hurry

As the storm continued to approach, I witnessed an amazing wall cloud. I was hoping a nice photogenic tornado would come down, but that would not be. I tried to leave the way I came in, but got into some hail. I flipped a U-turn to head back south and to avoid the hail. Unfortunately I was screwed, and I took a barrage from hail.

Big Hail

As I was trying to bail south, I came down a hill and slid into a barbed wire fence. It was like driving on an ice rink. The fence did a number on my truck, ripping up the bumper, mirror and door handle. The fence held up like a champ with no visible damage.