4/4/97 TX chase by Jason Jordan

Chase Summary, April 4, 1997

  Left College Station on Texas 6... TX 6 to U.S. 84 [thru Waco to
McGregor]... U.S. 84 to Farm to Market (FM) 1829... FM 1829 to TX 36... TX
36 to TX 236 [thru Flat to The Grove]... TX 236 to FM2671 [back to
McGregor]... FM 2371 / TX 317 to U.S. 84 [back to Waco]... U.S. 84 to TX 6
to I-35 [thru Waco to West]... I-35 to 6 back to College Station.

     A small group of students left Texas A&M on the afternoon of April 4
hoping to see severe weather in Central Texas for the first time this
spring.  Having seen storms rotating around the DFW metroplex, I figured the
best bet would be to head to Waco, see if we could get some updated data and
make a decision there on whether to head north or wait for a "tail end
charlie" on a squall line that was starting to develop West of central Texas.
   Leaving by 3:00pm CST (due to classes and traffic stopped by an
accident); Sam Shamburger(driver), John Fulton and I decided to head to Waco
thinking that the best chance for severe weather would be (at that time)
along the southern edge of the squall line.  Heading out under mostly cloudy
and hazy skies, we reached Waco at about 5:00pm CST.  Since all of the
television stations were getting ready to do their 5:00 newscasts, we were
reluctant to stop and go in and ask if we could look over data or watch the
newscast.  We made it to the Channel 25 studio in Waco (it was the closest),
but the office was locked and we didn't want to intrude.  However, a window
shade was open into an office and the T.V. was on The Weather Channel!
Fortunately, the radar update came on and I could see the line of storms,
but no county outlines.  This allowed me to see where the storms were in
respect to the major cities, and decide that we were in the right place.  I
guess you have to do what you've gotta do in order to get data!
     By that time skies had cleared somewhat and we could see the anvils
being blown off the tops of the storms to the West of Waco; and there were
some towers going up to the east of the line.  Also, a ham radio net
operator came on the local repeater and asked for all spotters to be ready
for activation.  At that time I asked where the best storm was.  He stated
that the strongest storm was near Gatesville in Coryell County and we headed
towards it.  As we neared McGregor around 5:15pm CST, the net operator
activated all spotters at the request of the NWS.  A tornado warning was
issued for a storm west of Gatesville at 5:39pm CST based on radar data.
     As we neared McGregor, the net operator said that the storm was moving
to the East-Northeast at 35 knots.  Another radio operator said that there
was a lowering to the south of Gatesville at 5:50pm CST.  There was no way
for us to be sure of what he was looking at, so we decided to head to the
southwest a little further to see if there was some way to see around the
rain that was blocking our view.  Heading South-Southwest out of McGregor,
we ended up in Flat, Texas (surrounded by hills) at 6:00pm CST.  We had also
dropped out of repeater range.  After getting up on the nearest hill to try
and reestablish radio contact, the three of us saw that the entire area that
formerly had an updraft base was now rain. About that time, a new lowering
was reported between McGregor and China Spring.  However, we were too far to
the Southwest to catch up to the reported lowering to our Northeast on
county and state roads, so at 6:15pm, we decided to try to get to I-35 and
its better conditions.  But alas, it was to no avail.
     By 6:20, the situation had become non chaseable; the storms were now
organized into a true squall line.  There was driving rain as we reached
Waco and we were in very cold outflow.  By coincidence, we heard Martin
Lisius on the repeater and ended up eating dinner with him and his chase
partner in West, Texas.  After dinner, we were behind the squall line and
were treated to a nice lightning display (some of which we caught on video)
all the way back to College Station.
     Arriving at 10:15pm CST, we looked over the radar data that was
archived and found out that an outflow boundary was kicked out well in front
of the squall line.  New thunderstorms would try to develop along the
outflow, but eventually they died or the squall line caught up with them.
Other than lightning and possibly some high winds, there was no severe
weather to report.  Let's hope that as the spring progresses and conditions
become better, there will be more opportunities for better storms and
(hopefully) more severe weather to report! 

                                                Jason Jordan
|Jason Jordan, KC5KND                P.O. Box 1301               |
|stormchaser@tamu.edu                College Station, TX  77841  |
|http://http.tamu.edu/~jkj1852/      (409)847-1128               |
|                --------------------------------                |
|      Sophomore Meteorology Student, Texas A&M University       |

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