Chase Date: November 16, 2015
Miles Logged: 659
States Chased: TX
Tornadoes Witnessed: 4
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
Night time chase where I witnessed the Pampa Texas, Tornadoes on the evening of November 16, 2015.
What a heck of a day this turned out to be from the forecast to the execution. A rare November outbreak of tornadoes in the Texas Panhandle. And some wedges.
We began looking at this day 5 days out, or the Thursday of the previous week. Andrew Lyons pulled me aside into the OWL lab at the NWC to show me the GFS for the following Monday. I really liked what I saw. There were definitely flies in the ointment, but the overall pattern looked pretty favorable for some tornadoes.
As time crept closer, I looked again on Sunday from Indianapolis. The water vapor image that morning looked amazing with a large jet and multiple impulses crashing into the California coast – I made a joke that I wouldn’t be surprised to see tornadoes in California that day, and there was.
Adam Lucio and Alec Scholten drove me from Indy to Chicago-Midway airport as planned, and I flew home Sunday night, arriving late into Oklahoma City.
The plan was to wake up early and get to work early and take a half day, departing by 11ish for the Texas Panhandle. While I didn’t get in as early as I had hoped, I was in before 8 and out by 11.
Departure for Texas
Lindsey, Kenzie and I departed about 11:30 and headed down I-40 westbound into Texas, seeing multiple chasers in almost a conga line. Many cops as we just got into Texas, where we topped off the tank and headed further west towards the dryline which was approaching Amarillo.
There was a storm to our west southwest of Groom which looked OK at first, but it really struggled to take shape and become intense. It would later go on to produce tornadoes, but we wouldn’t stick with that. We stopped at DQ in Groom and got something to eat before finally heading down to the Caprock canyon after the storm coming out of Tulia.
We stopped atop the north rim and had an incredible view of a supercell with some pretty awesome structure. It became tornado warned while we watched. We had come from Claude on TX-207 and that was the only way back north as there were really no viable east options, especially with a passenger car.
We were heading north on TX-207 when Lindsey told me Funnel funnel funnel! Sure enough an elongated slender cone funnel had come down and almost touched down. I pulled over and recorded tornado #1 just before sunset.
We continued back north to Claude and east through Claude onto FM-1151 and headed north towards Groom on FM294. Shortly after turning north we witnessed Tornado #2 just in the field beside us. It was brief, but another nice slender cone.
The funnel was persistent, crossing I-40 but not on the ground at that time. We headed north on 295, following the tornado north as it grew in size. Many power flashes including green, blue and orange were observed, and at two points we crossed the damage path where power lines had fallen.
We continued north onto TX-70 at this point towards Pampa, then around the south side bypass. A very large wedge tornado had developed at this point, and was to our southeast as we were heading E/NE on US-60 out of Pampa. We ran into a wet RFD as the tornado crossed at close range in front of us. Stress levels were pretty high inside of the car at that point. We nearly ran into power lines across the road.
We continued on stopping twice to take photos with a still camera. I captured one great image at ISO100 which had a lot of great detail of a large violent wedge roaming across the texas landscape.
Eventually short of Miami we gave up and dropped south to storm B where we witnessed another large wedge coming out of Pampa, following the course of Storm A. I grabbed more photos of course. We followed the storm all the way to Canadian then north. We finally gave up north of Canadian.
Almost out of fuel
Marcus Diaz and Adam Lucio were both severely low on fuel, and I wasn’t far behind. We headed back to Wheeler with them to get fuel.
Steak dinners at Denny’s in Sayre for a great day, arriving back in Norman by around 2 am. What an incredible chase day, especially for November. I believe it would have been a stellar career day in the day time. Multiple wedges on multiple supercells.