Rich Thompson's 1995 Season Summary


I just wanted to send you a summary of what I saw chasing this spring... at least a summary of the tornado days.

3 June - started off in Plainview TX and decided to drift down toward LBB around midday. Instability was substantial with sfc dewpoints in the 65-70F range, though low/mid lvl shear profiles were weak. Fearing HP type storms, we tried to get to the southern end of the mess of storms (which first developed around 9-10am). That took us to near Welch TX where we observed some hail and decent storm structure before the storm was undercut by outflow. For once, the outflow helped since it set up a storm-scale boundary intersection with the dryline to our immediate SW. We wandered around for awhile, observed a nice mid lvl funnel , then decided to go after a developing LP type storm near the boundary intersection. This storm developed very picturesque structure, and resembled Howie B.'s Spearman storm from 1990. We observed multiple inflow bands, blowing dust inflow, a hail roar, and hailstones of 1.5-2". The dust obscured the base for some time, but we eventually observed a nice occlusion and 2-3 min dust whirl tornado to the W of Lamesa. Most of the tornado threat was after the LP storm developed more of a forward flank precip core and attained more "classic" characteristics. (Me, Bobby Prentice, Dave Gold)

8 June - began the day in Goodland after following some LP storms near dark. We suspected the dense, cold sfc air would surge somewhere to our S, but we figured we'd be able to get there in time. We drove S that morning with temps in the 50s and lots of low stratus clouds, with our first breaks occurring as we entered the OK Panhandle. We followed a storm in Beaver Co. OK for about an hour until it gusted out. A guy showed us 4" hailstones with the storm, but low lvl inflow was fairly weak. We then dropped S into the TX panhandle to Canadian, but bad roads/visibility precluded us from intercepting the Pampa supercell. Therefore, we went for the southern anchor storm near I-40, playing tag with much of the VORTEX armada. We eventually got a view of the updraft from the east and south, then turned in toward it to get a better view of the base. (Me, Bobby Prentice, Jim Leonard)

Driving N from I-40 a large tornado (near Kellerville) emerged from the muck to our NNW. It was a large (probably 1/4 to 1/2 mile wide) cone tornado with a big debris fan. We got to about a mile S of it and could hear the roar. That hose moved off to our NNE into poor visibility, so we busted E and N to get the next cyclic meso/tornado. This took us to S of Allison where a very large menacing wall cloud developed 2-3 miles to our W. A large tornado quickly developed with this meso, and we dinked N toward Allison to stay with it. The tornado widened to somewhere in the 3/4 to 1 mile wide range at its biggest, and strong winds of 70-90 mph extended E and SE of the tornado with the meso/RFD. We moved to within 1/2 to 1/3 mile of the "wedge" tornado and decided that was close enough! We again heard the roar of the tornado for about a 15-20 min period before wrapping rain obscured the tornado. We played cat and mouse with the rain wrapped tornado/meso near Allison (which was extremely lucky!!), then went E into OK. Our chase ended with a probable rain wrapped tornado 10-11 miles NNE of Reydon OK, with us on the edge of its damage path. All told, and very exciting chase!

9 June - leaving from Norman OK, we drove WSW toward the suspected outflow boundary/weak dryline intersection. Some rotating storms formed in OK, but they were outflow dominated. Thus, we went SW to the area W of Vernon TX to intercept the newly developed southern storm. Soon after we arrived, the festival of dust whirl tornadoes began. We observed at least 6 different tornadoes, most of which were small dust whirls beneath a rotating base. Two of the small tornadoes occurred simultaneosly within 1 mile to our S through W. The funniest event of the day was a tornado that formed within 150 yds to our NNE as a small dust whirl. The dust cloud intensified and expanded while drifting toward us, so we backed up, turned the corner and let the hose cross the road about 150 yds to our W! Unfortunately, I left the camcorder on STANDBY for much this tornado(!!), but did record the later multivortex dust stage. Fortunately, my chase partner DID video the entire sequence. Once again, a very successful chase.

(Me and Bobby Prentice)

My video of the Lamesa storm came out well, with good lighting and several tripoded sequences. The 8 June storm made it very difficult to tripod, and I didn't have many good views since I navigated from the back seat, but the tornado still shows up well at times on my video (Jim L. took some pretty good video from the front seat). My 9 June video came out pretty good (except for the closest tornado!), though lightning/rain precluded tripoding.