Observations: one tornado, two funnel clouds, at least two or three wall clouds, and two supercells
Distance: ~700 miles
Time: ~15 hours
Chase Team: Car 1 - Gabe Garfield, Elise Johnson, Kate Horgan, and myself; Car 2 - Tim Wiegman
SPC Convective Outlook: Moderate Risk (Click to see SPC products, data, and storm reports)
Chase Setup: A negatively tilted trough was lifting through southern Kansas, with moist southerly flow extending northward in advance of it. A surface low was located over southeast Colorado with a cold front/dryline extending southward. Outflow boundaries associated with an MCS from the previous night were present over portions of Oklahoma and Kansas. CAPE was between 1500 and 3000 J kg-1. Very strong deep-layer shear was present in advance of the shortwave trough, with 0 to 6 km bulk shear exceeding 60 knots over parts of Texas and Oklahoma.
Chase Log: This was my second storm chase, and the first chase on which I saw a tornado (though not my first tornado). While we missed the larger tornado-producing machine by about one county, it was hard for me to feel disappointed as I was so thrilled to even see one tornado on only my second chase.
We first met up with a bunch of other storm chasers in Childress, Texas, where we sat for a while to gather more information via free WiFi around town. Eventually we made a decision to head after some storms northeast of Lubbock.
We got on one particularly beefy supercell in Dickens County, and watched it cycle a time or two before moving just up the road. As we were driving away from the storm, we saw a fat funnel cloud begin to come down. We stopped, and noticed a dusty debris cloud at the ground. The tornado did not fully condense, and it was on the ground for less than a minute, but we were all quite excited to see a tornado on such a nice storm way out in the middle of nowhere. This was also the first tornado for many chasers around us, as well as for Kate and Elise. It was my second tornado, seven years after seeing one track past my family's farm.
Despite Gabe's insistence that the storm was not done, the supercell started to weaken, so we went south and east a bit to intercept another supercell. This next supercell had some anticyclonic rotation and produced a couple of decent funnel clouds, but that was about it before sunset.
We met up with a bunch of chasers again for dinner at a Pizza Hut in Stamford, just north of Abilene. It was fun to share stories of the day and to see some familiar faces so far away from central Oklahoma; a great end to a terrific day!