5/7/97 TX chase by Mark Herndon

Bobby Prentice wrote:

> 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
> lightning from McLean. I drove the entire way home to Norman in rain and
> lightning.

Dave Robertson and I were heading north to intercept the Lefors storm
from Memphis, after a quick peek at Jim L and Casey C.'s laptop. We were
too late to catch the tornado that COD guys saw...very poor contrast in
our view to the north. The storm started rapidly backbuilding a new base
to the SW. Near the junction of TX 70 and I-40, we saw a rapidly
rotating wallcloud to our west, with a lot of dust beneath it. Small
scud tags were really cranking around, but there was never a well
developed condensation funnel. We were probably 10 miles east of it, but
it was nicely backlit and plainly visible. A few brief funnels were
visible at times...none more than 1/4 way to ground; small "needles"
lasting only a few seconds. This was right around 8pm. This "feature"
was relatively long lived...at least 15 minutes. Charles Edwards later
said they watched the same thing, but we weren't sure enough to actually
call it a tornado.

I heard today that Marty Feely was driving along I-40 just W of Groom
and watched the tornado crossed the road 400 feet in front of him! He
said it had a nice cinnamon roll swirl in the cloud base. I can't wait
to see his video on that one. If I hadn't heard his report, I would have
never known for sure, as the wall cloud was obviously cranking, but the
dust beneath it was too far away to discern rotation.

This storm eventually gusted out into a beautiful shelf cloud, with some
of the most incredible CGs that I have seen. Feeling that the show was
over for us, we returned south to Clarendon and parked beneath an awning
to let the gust front and hail pass. After we got in the car we heard of
a large tornado on the ground just to our southeast. How that evolved so
rapidly, I will never know..but just before dark storms were erupting
and evolving incredibly fast.

The drive back on I-40 was a feast for the eyes, with anvil crawlers
lighting up the night the whole way back.

All in all, May is looking a lot better than April.

Mark (Matt Biddle's chase partner)

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