5/28/97 TX chase by Brian & Nancy Morganti


From: "BRIAN A. MORGANTI" (morganti@IX.NETCOM.COM):
Subject:      Chase Day..Decisions Again


On Wednesday 5-28 we spent most of day in Palo Duro Canyon southeast of
Amarillo, Tx. sightseeing, watching the sky, and waiting for the sun to do
its work.  Overcast and an occasional TRW ruled the sky until early
afternoon, when skies cleared and temperatures started to rise.  Dew points
stayed around 55 -57 degrees.  At 5:00 we climbed out of the canyon to get
a better look at the skies and monitor the channel 7
[Amarillo] doppler radar report on our portable TV.  There were three
severe storms developing..one in Oklahoma Panhandle near Guymon [too far]
and two to our west in Deaf Smith and Palmer Counties..warnings had been
issued. I could see the dark horizons, so we headed west on 217 out of the
park to Canyon, Tx. were a decision would need to be made.

Upon arriving at Canyon a tornado warning was issued by NWS AMA that a
tornado was reported on the ground at routes 214 & 1412.  That was straight
to our west about 25 miles, so an intercept was plotted to reach this right
moving storm [NW to SE].

On FM 1062 we were already under the extended anvil of this isolated storm
and the small round base of a mesocyclone was becoming visable.  As we
drove towards the base the storm it appeared to have definate LP
characteristics with a striated base and no visable rainshaft..all rain was
being blown outward from the anvil.  There was a small cloud lowering from
the base, but it looked like this storm was decaying fast.  A new tornado
warning was now issued for the second storm to our south.  But I could also
clearly see the backshear anvil and very long anvil cirrus clouds being
blown off from the storm to our north in the Ok. Panhandle.  Should I move
northeast to intersect this southeast moving storm..a long drive and it was
now about 6:30..or try to catch the storm to our south with the tornado
warning?  We decided to head for the south storm..I could see the flanking
line back building and a hailshaft below the main tower.  I figured at
working a zig zag course southeastward at 60 -70 MPH [within speed limits]
I could easily catch this 20 - 25 MPH storm.  I was wrong.  We did finally
catch the north side of the hail shaft around 7:45 in the town of Earth at
the intersection of FM1055 & RT70.  There was a covering of pea size hail
on the roofs and lawns of this town..and a fresh layer of shredded leaves
under all the trees lining the streets.  Golf ball size hail was reported
just to our south, Time to break off the chase. .not about to core punch.

At 8:30 we stopped in an Arby's in plainview as I watched the the now even
closer looking back sheared anvil from the Guymon storm glowing golden in
the setting sun, kicking myself for not trying an intercept.  We proceeded
north on I27 back to Amarillo for our nights stay just as Lubbock was about
to get hit with the hail from our last chase storm.  We could see distant
lightning in the Guymon towers to our north..and it appeared to be back
building.  The closer we got to Amarillo, the more this became apparent.
By the time we hit I40 at 9:45PM we were being blasted by a strong gust
front and a shelf clould hung ominously over Amarillo..lit up by the city
lights and back lit by occasional lightning. Small hail and torrential
rains were begining to fall just as we pulled into the Super 8 canopy.  I
could see TWC radar on a TV through the front door, as a severe storm
warning for Amarillo was being scrolled across the bottom of the screen.
No kidding..but what about tomorrow!

Brian & Nancy Morganti

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