Green Sky Chaser

23 April 2008 Chase Log


Target Area: Seymour/Stamford/Breckinridge, Texas

Chase Area: Stamford/Abilene/Weatherford, Texas

Observations: two wall clouds, two supercells, lightning, and a very green sky

Distance: 740 miles

Time: 14 hours

Chase Team: Andrew Barrett, Matt Hills, Charlotte Wainwright, Chris Hogan, and myself

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

Chase Setup: A negatively tilted shortwave trough positioned over the Colorado/Kansas border to north central Texas and a stationary front from central Oklahoma through the south Texas Panhandle expected to contribute sufficient lift for storms from southwest Oklahoma through north central Texas. Southeast winds and dewpoints in the mid-60s, CAPE of 1000 to 2000 J kg-1, and helicity values of over 350 m2 s-2 in north central Texas suggest the possibility of strong to severe storms. Storm mode expected to be multicellular early on, with storms congealing into an MCS. Some embedded supercells with large hail and a few tornadoes are expected, with the greatest chance of seeing a tornado at the southern end of the line of storms.

Chase Log: We started off by driving southwestward on I-44 towards Wichita Falls, where we took Highway 277 to Stamford. By the time we got to Stamford, several supercells had already formed to our south and we had to decide if we were going to core punch.

Somehow we managed to thread our way through the storms, at about the time we heard that several tornadoes were being reported on the storms. We were very excited, but trees and rain prevented us from getting clear views of any one supercell. The storms were also moving very fast, so it was difficult to obtain and hold an optimal (and safe) viewing position.

Unfortunately this turned out to be a very frustrating day for us, as we found ourselves surrounded by tornadic supercells but we managed not to see any of the tornadoes. The primary supercell type was HP (high precipitation), so the heavy rain did not help matters any. We did see one nice wall cloud on a supercell near Abilene, as well as the most gorgeous green sky I had ever seen up to this point.

After dancing around storms for a while, we decided to get on I-20 and chase the storms eastward, hoping for a glimpse of a tornado on the southern end of the squall line. Just before we were about to give up on the chase, as we were approaching the Dallas metro, we took a short trip south on Highway 281 to check out the far southern end of the line. Just north of Morgan Mill, we saw another beautiful HP supercell and caught a glimpse of a wall cloud. However, there were some trees in the vicinity of the storm that once again prevented us from getting a clear view of the cloud base at all times.

We suddenly heard on the radio that a tornado was just reported near Morgan Mill. We never could get a good enough or long enough view of the wall cloud again, though, to see the tornado before it quickly became rain-wrapped. We did, however, come across the damage path of the tornado (or at least the damage path of the RFD). We carefully had to make our way past many power lines and tree branches, some 6 inches in diameter, that were littering the road.

On our way back home, we drove through Dallas and saw a amazing lightning bolt hit a transformer, which flashed blue and red colors in succession. We were treated to a great lightning show all day and for most of the drive back. All in all, it was an okay day; it was fun, but disappointing as we missed several tornadoes by just minutes.