5/27/97 Chase by Robert And Dene Brock


Storm chase log for 05-27-96   Robert and Dene Brock

 I took off work at 11:00 due to illness.  Before leaving work I printed out
a few surface, dew point, and lifted index plots.  Even though I was sick I
decided to chase if any storms began to develop.  At 11:30 a.m. I saw a
tower going up west of Waco and called Dene to begin the chase.  I could not
convince Dene to take off so I reluctantly went chasing alone.  The dew
point was 79 degrees with a heat index of 104 at 11:00 AM!  Bruce Thomas,
our local meteorologist,  indicated the Waco storm was moving east.  I took
I35 north from Temple at 12:50.

On the way to Waco I noticed a new tower going up like a nuclear bomb near
Lorena and started chasing this storm.  I was about 4-6 miles from the
storm, parked beside the road, looking through binoculars  when the first
funnel cloud developed.  I was able to take several pictures of the complete
life cycle of the funnell before golf ball size hail forced me to move.  I
also did not know what direction the storm was moving.  From my point of
view it looked like it was stationary, which could have meant is was moving
toward me.  With another wall cloud  developing almost directly overhead and
south,  I headed north to get away and hopefully get more shots.  It turned
out the storms were moving south right along I35.  (By the way, the tornado
warning did not occur until about 5 minutes after the first touchdown.)  I
was trying to wave and yell at people to call it in and take cover but
everyone just ignored me.  

By the time I realized the storms were moving south, I was blocked from the
view of the still occurring tornadoes by rain and large hail shafts and
could not safely follow close enough to see anything.  While pulled over
trying to decide which way to go, one of the local TV stations (Newstrong 6)
pulled up and interviewed me.  I was later on TV.    After the interview, I
noticed yet another "Fist of God" going up toward Moody very rapidly and
decided to chase down some FM roads.  Took FM2837 northwest, then FM2113
southwest to Moody, Then FM317 south to Temple.  Meanwhile the scanner was
talking about tornadoes on the ground near Eddy then Troy and Pendleton.  A
tornado was reported on the ground at FM317 and Southland road just before I
made it to Moody.  I was still too far to see the funnel.  As I drew close
to Temple airport I could see yet another funnel cloud developing toward
Morgans point and it was BIG.  Fumbling with a Camera cooled by the truck
air conditioner (the lens were fogging up faster than I could wipe them off,
next time the air conditioner will be off when close to storms) I was able
to take three or four pictures at the rest stop on FM317 just north of
Temple Airport  before very large hail started landing all around me.
Again, I had to run away from excellent view of the tornado to stay safe.
The pictures will most likely be poor due to bad contrast and foggy lenses.
I retreated to FM317 and Southland road for several minutes while marble
size hail continued to fall on me from the storm now several miles away. I
farmer continued to plow the field at this intersection
through all of this.  At the same time, Dene was viewing the Morgan's Point
tornado from the roof of King's Daughters Hospital in Temple.  She said that
at first it looked like a tall building in the fog, but quickly took shape
and developed into a huge, multiple vortex tornado.  She was extremely
excited, but frustrated that she did not have her camera.  

HAM radio operators were continuing to report a LARGE tornado on the ground
just west of Belton, then at lake Stillhouse.  As it moved south, I
continued the chase from a safe distance of about 7 miles. Took FM317 south
to 6th street to I35 south at Belton.  Going through Belton caused me to
lose quite a bit of time.  I followed the storm down I35 to Salado.  At
Salado, DPS had closed I35 (people were driving right into the storm
apparently unaware of the tornado not visible but on the other side of the
rain shafts).  DPS and HAM reports were still coming in about a very large
tornado just south of Salado (exit 280 and 279). Since I35 was blocked, I
jumped over to FM2843 southwest, then FM487 southeast to Jarrell, attempting
to go around and get in front of the storm.  I was too late, arriving in
Jarrell about 4:00PM  within moments of the most devastating tornado in the
series.  I just missed it, but survive to chase yet another day.   With the
numerous emergency vehicles and the fury of the storm, I was pretty sure
that some people died, but had no idea it was as many as it was. 
    
The weather radio was indicating another tornadic storm just northeast of
Waco. The large back-sheared tower was very impressive driving north on I35
from Jarrell.  I decided to pick up Dene at work.  We took 36 east from
Temple at 5:00 PM, then FM437 north, then FM320 north to Marlin. We caught
up with this storm near Marlin.  It was much better chasing with a partner
but visibility was poor (less than two miles) and it was becoming difficult
to stay in front of the shelf cloud, so we decided to call it a day about
6:15PM.

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