Tuesday, April 13, 1999

Chase Accounts

Tim Vasquez & Gene Rhoden -- Gene Rhoden and myself headed west out of Norman during the morning under cloudy skies, targeting Plainview, TX. We arrived at Childress TX at 1715Z just as the clouds began breaking, and had fried chicken at the Golden Chicken. We also took a minute to gather surface data via pay phone, plotting it with Digital Atmosphere. We had hoped to play the warm front, unfortunately the 18Z plots and the warm, muggy air outside showed that it had raced northwards for greener pastures, leaving most of the dryline with non-backed winds (170-180 deg). Unidirectional flow. :^( We considered heading to the AMA area but saw that the storms up there were rather linear already (more weakly capped, I imagine).
          Plainview still seemed as good as any other spot, so we headed west via Quitaque, and as we got on the Caprock around 2030Z we caught a glimpse of anvils to the distant south (S of LBB) and another set of anvils to our SW, which seemed like they were well clear of seeding from further south. We got to Tulia and went south down I-27, meeting our storm at Plainview around 2110Z, in heavy rain but no hail, and emerged southeast of the town to find the storm was heavily outflow dominant -- scud, linear updrafts that were vaulted, sheared towers, etc. :^( We lazily followed it northeast toward Childress, catching sight of Roger Edwards' Meatwagon near South Plains heading south, presumably for the Lubbock cluster.
          At 2230Z we gassed up at the Quitaque Allsup's under an outflowish tower with calm wind, and continued NE. Around 2300Z a tornado warning for a "radar indicated tornado" (one of zillions on this day, from my understanding) was issued for this storm as it went through Hall County, but from 20 miles away and with faint sight of the base we could not see anything remotely indicating rotation, much less a strong updraft. This storm continued into Oklahoma as a fuzzy mushball, and as a new anvil from Guthrie & Abilene filled the skies overhead we stopped west of Hollis OK at 0100Z for some awesome sunset mammatus photos.
          The air was muggy again, so I slung the psychrometer and got a T/Td of 70/64. With us being *behind* this mess of storms which were now forming into a line, it suggested that conditions were still ripe for convection as dynamics continued to emerge from NM. Indeed, we could see towers bubbling to the west behind the setting sun. We stopped at the Altus Pizza Hut at 0145Z for dinner, and by the time we left (0230Z), a short line of strong storms developed N of Childress TX. We went east to Snyder, seeing the lightning in our rear view mirrors, and finally parked at 0300Z to watch the show. The lightning was frequent but waned within half an hour, presumably as outflow from the southern line destroyed the new storms' inflow. Winds, however, started gusting well over 35 mph (measured) out of the east, likely in response to pressure falls out west. The big dynamics were close at hand! We drove back to lots of light rain and sporadic, incredible CG strikes, and while I slept, Norman got pounded by a messy squall line.
          It was an interesting chase, and it was a real illustration how, even with all other parameters & timing being favorable for severe weather, we were doomed by unidirectional flow, compounded by environmental flow parallel to the dryline (resulting in storms seeding one another). For newbies, this is one reason why chasers cringe when a deep trough or cutoff low is heading for a chase area! It would also have helped if we were better-capped -- too many cells developed at once.
          Kudos to the ones that played I-20 -- even in hindsight I'm not sure what it would have took to bring me that far south, except for the fact that the cap everywhere was weaker than I anticipated. It also seems that in a lot of the deep-trough days I've chased, the southernmost dryline storms end up being starved for moisture; apparently that didn't happen this time around.

Robert Satkus -- Bobby Payne and I felt the Lubock area was the best but we couldn't leave as early as we needed to. We hope dthings may work out along the warm front to the north, but thought the best tornado potential would be south. We were surprised to pass the warm front in the Lawton area. We dropped south to hwy 287 then headed west. We heard of a tornadic storm north of Lubbock, however by the time we got to Childress we heard the storm had weakened, and storms were forming along the warm front near Amarillo. We turned north, finding these storms near Mclean Tx, Although baseball hail had just been reported with these storms, they looked pretty junky. We headed towards Alanreed (who was this guy?) as the storm weakened. We were now told the old Lubbock area storm was tornadic again so we turned back south to I-40 crossing the Lela damage path of 6-11-97. Still looked fresh! We went to Erick Ok then south, catching the storm near Vinson. It had a small but strong core and a big gust front. The storm rapidly weakend and with no additional development expected we hit the Sonic in Hobart for a tasty burger.

Did you chase on this day? Send in your account and we'll add it! Selected chase accounts will be published in STORM TRACK Magazine (with your permission of course).

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