Saturday May 24, 2003 - Texas - Wall Cloud, Hail, Tornado

 


Click here for a more detailed blowup map.

As we were loading and preparing to pick up our clients we chatted with storm chaser Brian Morganti (owner of Tempest Tours) in the parking lot of the Ramada Limited Inn at Oklahoma City. He was staying at the same hotel, along with the rest of Tempest Tours including guides Blake Naftel and Kinny Adams.

After visiting and loading we picked up guests Lori & Tommy at Will Rodgers International Airport. Tommy's flight was delayed due to bad weather (ironic huh?). So while waiting we hung out at the Burger King for a few hours getting data while waiting for Tommy's flight to arrive. After analyzing the data we discovered that our first day, which was not anticipated to be a chase day, would have a potential for severe storms. We decided to target Shamrock, TX where we thought we'd have our best chances at seeing a severe storm.

Once in Shamrock we noticed that we had two possibilities. There were some showers in an unorganized manner in the panhandle of Texas, and another cell that appeared more favorable to the south near Childress. The showers to the north appeared to be near a boundary and had better backing winds to favor shear and potentially rotating storms, however we decided to go for the cell to the south which was already better established.

Once in Childress we encountered street flooding. The cell rained itself out with speed shear too poor to keep the updraft dry. What went up came straight back down again and flooded out the cell and Childress, TX.

Once noting that this cell was done, we went back north towards Shamrock where we noticed cells popping up earlier. We used Delorme Street Atlas 2003 to navigate. Many of the roads in northwest Hardeman County, TX looked like cowtrails but were on the map nontheless. We drove over an old wooden and iron bridge over a dry river bed. Peggy and Melanie stayed back until they were sure we made it over ok.

In the process of traveling through the southwest corner of Oklahoma to get back towards Shamrock, TX, we almost hit a road runner. That's something a little strange for people from Minneapolis. When people of the north think of a roadrunner, they also think of the coyote. But there was no coyote. I'd also like to add that roadrunners are not nearly as large as the cartoon depicts.

Once we got on the paved roads again, near Hollis, TX we headed back to Shamrock at 83/I40. By this time we were getting reports the cells in the Pampa area were severe. We then noticed a nice updraft, and Doug Kiesling called that the cells were tornado warned. We high-tailed it to Mclean, and headed north on 273. On the radio we heard that a couple brief tornado touchdowns were spotted just east-southeast of Pampa, which was very near our location. At this time we noticed a very ominous lowering, which was very apparent to be a wall cloud with potential tornado below it. Later we found out that the tornado reports came from a research team. The timing, position and validity of the tornado report all come together to lead us to believe that the brief view we got of the wall cloud and lowering may indeed have been a brief tornado.

Just after we viewed this possible tornado we encounted hail which started out as pea size and quickly went to 1" to 1.25" inch hail. We turned around and headed back as there were reports of baseball size hail, and visibility was decreasing.

Just after sunset we watch the storm at the Exit on 70/I40 with a nice lightning show. Mike was pretty happy with our first day.

We then went to Clareden, TX for pizza at Pizza Hutt and Cloud 9 Tours was there. From there we headed South towards Tulia, TX where we stayed at the Select Inn for possible target in the Midland, TX area on Sunday.