Chase Date: May 17, 2021
Mike Umschied, Lucas Munzlinger, Michael Onesty, Stas Spernasky, Craig Monroe
Miles Logged: 696
States Chased: TX
Tornadoes Witnessed: 1
Largest Hail Encountered: 2.5"
Highest Wind Encountered: 50MPH
Witnessed chaser wreck
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
A weak cutoff mid level low would drift it’s way into the plains on the 17th. As there was a chance of severe weather the 16th, I decided to chase that and stay the night in Childress. Some model runs made me think I would need to get to Midland for the 17th.
Between the dryline, outflow boundary and warm front, there was a lot on the weather map in the morning. I departed after working the morning in my hotel room and headed towards Seminole. I was early, so I ended up sitting around for awhile on a dirt road.
Storm gets going
Storms to my south started maturing first, and tornado reports came in. Miscalculation on my part, but I stuck with this storm. The storm was a wedding cake beautiful meso.
I was heading southbound on a dirt road I would later know as Nightingale Road. This was southeast of the town of Smyer west of Lubbock. I stopped multiple times as the RFD wrapped around the south end of the mesocyclone. The dust being blown up was prolific, and it fooled some into thinking it was a tornado.
I was hop-skipping with a Nissan Sentra with Texas tags. We both stopped multiple times to observe the storm. We were heading southbound on Filly Road, nearing a cross street. An east option would have been nice, but the roads to my east were somewhat muddy. I missed the cross street at Elk Road, and decided to just go all the way south to FM1585.
We approached Filly road. It was invisible to me, and the only indication was a row of trees. Suddenly, from those trees came a Ford Ranger headed eastbound. A couple seconds later both cars were smashed up and laying in a field.
I was shocked at what I had just witnessed. In my video, I get out immediately and start running towards the Sentra. I knew there were 2 occupants in that vehicle, I had just seen them. The driver and passenger both got out of the Ford Ranger pretty quickly, so I ran over to the passenger side of the Sentra.
What I saw was a caring driver (which I found out later was her husband) huddled over her trying to comfort her. She was complaining about breathing and pain. The driver of the Ranger called 911 and emergency services showed up pretty quickly.
I would get to know those in the Ford Ranger. They were chasing from Missouri. Both were young, and reminded me of me 10 years ago. We loaded everything from their truck into my car and I hauled them over to a hotel in Lubbock.
I booked back into the hotel I had stayed the night before in Childress and headed that way.