Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: November 16, 2015
Miles Logged: 659
States Chased: TX
Tornadoes Witnessed: 4
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

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. Indiana Chasercon was that weekend, and I was presenting. So I traveled to Indianapolis and didn’t check on anything again until Sunday. Water Vapor showed multiple impulses heading into the California coast. I made a joke that I wouldn’t be surprised to see tornadoes in California that afternoon. Turned out that were was.

Adam and Alec 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. We saw many chasers on I-40 and many cops as we got into Texas. The dryline was approaching Amarillo, so we continued west on 40.

There was a storm to the west/southwest of Groom which looked decent at first, but it really struggled to take off and intensify. That storm would later produce tornadoes, but we didn’t stick with it. We stopped at Dairy Queen in Groom and grabbed something to eat. As we concluded a late lunch, a storm had formed along the dryline near Tulia and was heading our way

Storm Time

We dropped south on TX Highway 207 from Groom to Claude to the north rim of the Palo Duro Canyon. The storm coming out of Tulia had some epic structure. The north rim gave us a great view of the supercell as it moved towards us. As we watched, the storm became tornado warned.

The only way out was back the way we came. Back north on 207 we went when Lindsey started yelling “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.

First tornado of the day near Claude, Texas on November 16, 2015

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.

Pampa Texas Tornadoes

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.

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. We followed the storm all the way past Canadian. We finally gave up north of Canadian.

Almost out of fuel

Marcus and Adam 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.