Green Sky Chaser

28 March 2007 Chase Log


Target Area: Shamrock/Childress/Clarendon, Texas

Chase Area: Shamrock/Childress/Clarendon/Silverton, Texas

Observations: three tornadoes, at least four funnel clouds, at least four wall clouds, at least three supercells, baseball-sized hail, lightning, and a squall line

Distance: 530 miles

Time: 12 hours

Chase Team: Car 1 - Esther White, Joe Daron, Gemma Ebsworth, and myself; Car 2 - Hin Pang, Ryan Surrage, and Duncan Geere; Car 3 - Hamish Ramsay, José Galvez, Raquel Orozco, and Vagner Anabor

SPC Convective Outlook: Moderate Risk (Click to see SPC products, data, and storm reports)

Chase Setup: A deep, closed upper low was centered over the Four Corners' region. A cold front extended southward through the west Texas Panhandle from a surface low in southeast Colorado. Low level winds were from the southeast across the Texas Panhandle, western Kansas, and western Nebraska. A dryline stretched north to south across the western High Plains with dewpoints in the mid-60s ahead of the dryline. CAPE values were between 2000 and 4000 J kg-1 ahead of the surface low with 0 to 6 km bulk shear values between 40 and 60 knots.

Chase Log: We set out for Shamrock, where we stopped for a while to pick up Wi-Fi and figure out what we wanted to do next. Dozens of other chasers were out there as well, leading to massive pre-chasing chaser convergence.

We watched a storm go up to our southwest, and ultimately headed out after it. We intercepted the storm in Briscoe County, where we saw a funnel cloud touch down at about 6 pm, just north of Silverton. This was the first tornado for most of the people in our chase group, which made it that much more exciting.

The tornado went through several phases, and remained solidly on the ground for a full 20 minutes or so. We witnessed the full life of this tornado, which was beautiful from touch down to rope out. The tornado tracked through open range country, and I never heard of any reported damage or injuries.

Although numerous other supercells had popped up by this time, the storms were able to remain isolated enough to produce many tornadoes. Not long after the Silverton tornado lifted, we caught the rope out of another tornado just north of Hedley, in Donley County. We were not sure how long this one had been on the ground, but we drove up a hill and suddenly spotted a rope tornado in a field next to us. We did not have time to stop and take any photos, though, as the tornado roped out very shortly after we spotted it (though Joe and Ryan caught it briefly on video; see the video link above or below).

We also saw some large hail this day, also around Donley County. The largest hail we saw was baseball-sized (about 3 inches in diameter). We just missed seeing the hail fall, which was good, otherwise our car windows would have been smashed! There were quite a few hail stones of this size littering the ground, meaning some of the falling hail stones could have been even larger.

As we drove back north towards I-40, after it got dark, we saw some lightning light up what appeared to be a large wedge tornado several miles in front of us. We slowed down, as we were chasing without radar and did not know what was going on. When we saw the lightning light up the wedge again, I had Esther call another chaser in the area (Gabe Garfield) who had radar data. He confirmed that there was indeed a wedge less than 10 miles north of us, affecting McLean. In fact, this large tornado crossed I-40 and struck a mesonet station shortly after another large tornado, just west of McLean, also crossed I-40 and tossed some 18-wheelers at a rest stop. By the time we got back to Shamrock, we saw that westbound I-40 was closed because of tornado damage.

This day will always be one of my all-time favorite chases, between the good company, the tornadoes, the large hail, the numerous classic and HP supercells, and the fact that it was in the Texas Panhandle (my favorite place to chase).