Yesterday (May 15) was kind of a tricky day, with lots of CAPE, a decent dryline, and not much of a cap, and things could quickly get messy if they started to form.
We spent much of the day just sitting around near Abilene waiting for storms to fire in our area.
As always, click to enlarge any of the following photos.
After awhile we meandered a bit back towards Anson as a storm seemed to be pulsing on radar, but no sooner did we arrive than it died for good.
After a little while storms finally started going up ahead of the dryline and we followed a growing supercell through Mineral Wells. We had to wait for the storm to pass the town, and then we stopped and took a look at the hail on the ground.
We saw many tennis ball and baseball-sized hail stones that were rapidly melting, and presumed at least softball-sized stones had fallen.
We then followed the supercell to just south of Millsap, where we watched massive and violently rotating wall clouds cycle until we saw at least one tornado touch down.
Above is a radar grab of the supercell a few minutes before it produced a tornado. Our position is marked by the blue circle.
We happened to stop beside a pair of American and Australian flags, not noticing it for a few minutes. Our chase group this year consists of 3 Aussies, 1 New Zealander, and 1 American, so it was amusing for our international crew!
Tornado touchdown around 7:10 pm a couple miles south of Millsap.
Will, Dean, and Jon Fischer
Dean, Will, Jon Fischer, and Jon Grimes: first tornado for the Jons!
Me, Dean, Jono, and Fisch
We followed the storm for a little while before it got cut off by another supercell to our south, which at the time was putting down a tornado moving through Granbury.
By the time we got to Granbury, the cell was just ahead but it was getting darker and we decided to call off the chase. We saw some still fairly large hail stones in the city, and then came across the tornado damage path, close to Decordova.
Even after seeing the rotation signature and debris ball on radar, we were still shocked by the amount of damage we saw. It was horrendous, and brought back memories I had tried to suppress from witnessing the destruction of Greensburg 6 years ago.
Houses leveled, debris strewn everywhere, people wandering around crying, sirens going off, ambulances everywhere, it was so sad.
Preliminary damage assessments have the tornado at EF4, but it wouldn’t completely surprise me if it is ultimately rated an EF5. At least 6 or 7 people are reported dead, about 100 injured, and a few still missing. It was very emotional for us to see this tragic side of the power of the storms we are drawn to chase. Thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by the storms yesterday.
Our chase was about 8 hours long and just 220 miles.
Today we’re on our way driving north to probably western Kansas to position ourselves for chasing the Northern Plains the next couple days.
Today we started off in Olton, Texas, visiting and making new friends last night, and then headed south to points south of Midland in the southwest part of the state.
We were excited to see anything this season, and were happy to see a few severe thunderstorms, hail, decent structure, a few gustnadoes, and lightning before it turned into a nice squall line and we ultimately stopped to spend the night in Abilene to position ourselves for tomorrow’s chase.
Here are some photos from the day.
Severe thunderstorm over a field of cotton just east of Crane, Texas
Just after we got pounded by the core, with dime and nickel and the odd quarter-sized hail
Outflow structure on a mini bow echo storm and green sky near Big Lake
Closer view of the shelf cloud
We drove about 480 miles over 11 hours today, and also saw 3 raccoons crossing the road tonight.
Over 20 Australian (and a few Kiwis and Americans) gather for dinner in Wichita, Kansas!
It’s great to be back in the States! Flew into Oklahoma City Friday night, with the rest of the chase team flying int the next afternoon.
Spent Saturday running errands and visiting with old friends, and then got on the road Sunday afternoon as we headed to Wichita for a (mostly) Aussie storm chaser gathering! I’m chasing /road tripping this month with 3 Aussies and 1 New Zealander, and it was great to meet so many others last night at dinner.
Today we’re on our way to a friend’s place in the south Texas Panhandle, as the chase weather has been a bit slow, but we’re hopeful we’ll get some good opportunities later in the week!
My two year contract at the weather station on Kwajalein is coming to a close (already?! where did the time go?). While I had the opportunity to renew it, I decided for various reasons to pursue other opportunities. I have loved my time here and there are some people and some things I will miss, but further challenges and interesting weather are calling me.
I just accepted an offer to work as a meteorologist for MetService, New Zealand’s National Weather Service. I am beyond excited to say I will be moving to Wellington, New Zealand this August! The position sounds great, and I look forward to learning more about Southern Hemisphere and New Zealand weather and exploring this beautiful country.
The above photo is the famous Kwaj signpost by the airport, showing the direction and approximate distance in miles to various places around the world. Wellington has been added to the signpost sometime since I first got here, and now I smile whenever I notice it as I pass by–”only” about 2,400 miles further south!
The next few months will bring a lot of traveling for me, as I’ll also soon be flying back to Oklahoma to go storm chasing and visit friends for a few weeks across the Plains. I plan on updating this blog with my latest storm chase adventures this May; hopefully there will be a lot to write about and post photos of! I am going to be chasing with a tablet for the first time; every time I chase I seem to change something up. This year I will have an iPad, and between the built-in GPS, data connection, and various apps, I should be able to get the information I want without having a bulky laptop and cords everywhere. One of my chasing buddies, Dean (coming back from Australia with a couple of his friends) will have the full laptop setup though, so we’ll have double the data!
Anyway, I also plan on updating this (mainly) weather blog more often once I no longer have to dial up to use the Internet at home (really looking forward to high speed Internet again!). I may even start a separate New Zealand blog soon, too.
The Midwest snow storm I wrote about this past weekend (Upper Midwest Blizzard) brought record-setting snowfall to parts of Minnesota, including 10.2 inches that fell at Twin Cities, breaking the previous daily record of 7.4 inches in 1961. The heaviest snowfall of the storm was 17.3 inches at Sacred Heart, Minnesota.
NWS Twin Cities snowfall totals from 8th-9th December storm (the link also gives individual snowfall amounts by city).
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