5/7/97 TX chase by Robert Prentice



I too saw the Wrn Gray Co, TX supercell, but did not see the tornado that COD or
Rich Thompson/Roger Edwards observed. The storm developed and behaved very much
as predicted. It developed very rapidly (few tens of minutes) in an extremely
unstable enivronment, and rapidly developed into a supercell with low-level
rotation. According to Rich/Rog it produced one (or more?) brief tornadoes
during the first hour of its life and then developed into a "gusting-out" HP
supercell.

I got off from work and drove to Erik, OK arriving around 5:30pm. My target area
was the EC TX Panhandle (around Carson and Donley Co's.). With no development
yet in sight, I called Jim Leonard/Casey Crosbie/Marty Feely (~6pm) and
discovered that they were in the middle of major "chaser convergence" ("30+
chasers") at Childress. After eating Taco Bell, I stopped at a nearby motel to
watch TWC (at 6:30pm) and saw the classic supercell southeast of Dalhart. I
thought I could catch this storm before sunset, but I still hoped for new
developement in my target area as opposed to a storm moving into my target area.

My wish was quickly granted with the supercell bomb in Carson Co, TX. I drove
north on 70 towards Pampa and near the 293 intersection observed a RFB with a
manacing wall cloud to my WNW-NW. Contrast was poor with haze and lots of
precipitation to the W-N-ENE of the storm. Even to the east of the storm light
rain was falling which made photography difficult. The only way to get a good
view was from the E. Unfortunately, east road options were poor and the storm
was approaching hwy 70. I thought (hoped?) the storm would last awhile longer
and move ESE. So I made the quick decision to beat the giant hail to Lefors
where I had good road options to the ESE, SE and S. There I could film the storm
the last 45 minutes before sunset.

Unfortunately the storm back-built a few times (with a brief tornado or two
reported) before gusting out into a squall line. I did film some of the intense
lightning from McLean. I drove the entire way home to Norman in rain and
lightning.

As far as Rich having his camcorder in pause mode, this is now the second time
he has done this! The other time was 6/9/95 at Farmer's Valley/Vernon, TX. That
spectacular 100yd wide multi-vortex tornado (with a roar!) passed within a few
hundred yards of us! Rich, please, you're killing yourself! When in doubt, leave
it in record mode!

"Your personal guide to convective nirvana"
Robert A. Prentice, NWS Meteorologist Instructor
Bobby_Prentice@MMACMAIL.JCCBI.GOV
*My Opinions only*

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