Chase Date: April 24, 2011
Miles Logged: 684
States Chased: TX
Tornadoes Witnessed: 1
Highest Wind Encountered: 75MPH
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
I started off from Norman around noon. We were getting some much needed rain, and had to load the car in a downpour. My original target was Jacksboro, TX but I amended it to around Graham, TX once hitting the road.
I got on the road around noon, which was about the time I wanted to depart. I shot down I-44 to Wichita Falls and then down US281. I made it to Graham, where I topped my tanks off and applied some Rain-X.
The first storms of the day had already fired, and I knew I needed to get down as they were riding right along the Dryline/Warm Front boundary intersection.
I made it down to about Breckenridge when reports of tornadoes came in. Eric Treece told me Andy Gabrielson had a tornado on his stream, and I was still about 40 minutes out.
I raced south on 183 to some back roads 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 a nice organized wall cloud and even started rotating pretty significantly, however, the wall cloud was obviously not going to organize.
I decided to bail southwest towards the next cell which was coming out of Abilene. I took some back roads down to I-20 and as soon as I got on I-20 just about 4 miles east of the storm over Baird, I saw a tornado report come into my WDT e-mail box from Connor with a picture of a nice rope tornado. At first I thought they were still on the cell I had just bailed on, but then realized they were on the storm I was heading towards.
Once I got to US283 in Baird, I exited and shot north past all of the chasers. The wall cloud was due north of me, and moving to the east. I slowed down and let it pass, then continued north. My original plan was to get north a couple more miles and catch the east road option which was risky, but seemed doable. Somewhere, short of the east road option, debris started raining down on me in the form of tree branches and leaves.
I realized quickly that a vorticy had touched down from the side of the wall cloud, and was in the field next to me. I flipped a U turn and headed back south in an attempt to not end up inside of the tornado. My ears popped as I watched two vorticies in the field next to me rip trees up.
I ended up heading back south and stopped and uploaded video for the next 45-60 minutes before deciding on my options.
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, and so I headed towards it.
I ended up on a north-south ranch road since no other roads would put me in a good position. I stopped in the path and let the storm come to me, and witnessed a funnel cloud/possible tornado.
After that, as the storm continued to close in, I witnessed an amazing wall cloud as it closed in on me.
I decided to head north, but ended up running into some hail, so I flipped back around and headed south. The hail had wrapped around, and also included quite a bit of rain as the dirt road had turned into a muddy mess. As I headed south, I came over a hill which had a right turn at the bottom. As soon as I hit the brakes it came apparent I would not stop in time, but I did manage to turn the car somewhat sideways. I ended up sliding off the road and right into a barbed wire fence, causing significant damage to the side of my truck, the bumper and the tail light. The fence held up pretty well, however, not showing hardly any signs of just being hit by a Ford Truck.
I ended up on US84 south of Goldsboro where the hail started coming down hard with no place to hide from it. The roads became completely covered, and a little bit of hail fog came from all the hail.
It was about then I decided to give up for the day, eventhough the storm was still tornado warned and showing amazing rotation on radar. I headed back north on US84 to Abilene where I headed home US277 towards Stamford, Haskell and Seymour, TX.
I arrived back in Norman around 1:30-2am.