Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: May 19, 2015
Miles Logged: 514
States Chased: TX
Tornadoes Witnessed: 1
Largest Hail Encountered: 4.75"
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

This was the day of not being able to make up my mind. The day before I really thought we’d need to be on the dryline out by Lubbock so we headed to Childress and stayed the night of the 18th in preparation for chasing out there the 19th.

Wake up the 19th and things look good with a really complex forecast. There’s a warm front near us and just to the north extending up to near OKC Metro. There are some outflow boundaries to our east, and the dryline off to our west by the New Mexico border.

A tornado watch was issued for all of southern OK and North Texas along the warm front and a storm fired pretty much right in the vicinity of Childress and moved off to the east slowly. Bill followed this storm, and so did we, but quickly became discouraged by it’s multicellular look on radar and visually elevated presentation.

We decided to sit tight. Meanwhile, tornado warnings kept coming in from the OKC metro area and even brief tornado reports from near Purcell. Anger was rising.

The best part about these chase logs is that you can cheat and look at the photos and videos and realize things looked up, but at the moment I didn’t think they would.

We sat near Paducah for a long time, torn between west and east. Things to the east became organized and supercellular, and even got a tornado warning. CU along the dryline seemed to struggle, so I finally thought ‘east’ and we headed on our journey east which included a fuel/bathroom stop between Vernon and Wichita Falls and then dropping south onto storms in north texas.

We got south of Wichita Falls near Windthorst when we intercepted our first storm. It was dropping large hail, with large stones on the ground. Not a lot of them, just large stones.

While collecting stones and photos I managed to collect a tennis to baseball size stone on my shoulder. After some expletives and crying like a wuss, I managed to regain compsure and continue on east where we found a huge stone in the roadway. A ruler measured 3.75″, the largest stone I’ve ever measured.

We continued east to State Highway 148 and headed south. Terrain sucked, and we had a hard time finding a view, eventually heading north as we saw the wall cloud.

We were rewarded with a nice front lit white cone tornado, even if it was brief. It was just in the field next to us and lasted all of 5 seconds, but was good enough that Jari got a photo. The structure of the storm was quite pretty with striations with the significant shear above.

We ended up in Buffalo Springs, TX before giving up on the storm and dropping south. Confirmed tornado reports were coming in on the south storm heading into Mineral Wells, and we made the trek south to Jacksboro and then towards Mineral Wells.

We didn’t see much on the soupy south storm, and it seemed to fall apart, but not after causing some minor tornado damage in Mineral Wells.

Night was falling and we went north towards Jacksboro for one last storm. We managed to see a funnel just west of Jacksboro before it seemed to completely fall apart.

We rode out the rain and wind on 148 and then headed to Dairy Queen in Jacksboro to get food, but a huge 2 van full of college students storm chasing swarmed the place and we realized if we wanted food before Christmas we’d need to find somewhere else to eat, so off to the allsups we went.

As we were in Allsups, phones started going off. I figured it was a flood product, but it was another tornado warning, this time just southeast of the city along 380.

We’d spend the next 2 hours trying to get through the RFD/hook of the storm, but terrain, radar and instincts kept telling us not to. Eventually we popped into clear air around decatur and had a clear view of the wall cloud.

Not much else happened as we returned home along I-35 once getting to Denton.