Day Eight – Country Roads

Yesterday was a 100% forecasting success. We knew there would be outflow boundaries laid down by previous storms and we also knew that there would be at least one triple point formed by an outflow boundary and the dry line. Ultimately we found one, just southeast of Amarillo, TX and set up to watch it.

…that said, we once again battled a terrible road network.

Storm Chase Day 08

Our storm fires at the triple point in the Texas Panhandle.

We watched visible satellite and radar for a while and, when our storm finally fired, we waited a few radar scans to make sure it would survive and then made moves to get to its base. We caught up to it at a rest area with a nice view and could see its (fairly high) base with a wall cloud underneath.

Storm Chase Day 08

Classic high-based convection.

Storm Chase Day 08

On the upswing!

Upon seeing this, we knew something was wrong. Dew points were supposed to support very low cloud bases yesterday, and this clearly was not. Eventually we came to the conclusion that the storm was ingesting dry air, preventing it from thriving.

Occasionally the storm would find moisture again, and rapidly rise and rebuild its anvil. Each time this happened, I hoped the storm had finally found the moisture axis and really start to take off, but it was not meant to be.

We ended up sitting by the side of the road for fifteen minutes or so, planning what to do next as chasers streamed by us, angling for some cells that had gone up south of us near Lubbock. We, however, could not go south because we wanted to keep Nebraska in play for the following day.

Storm Chase Day 08

A transient funnel produced by our storm.

Eventually a cell fired, and we got on it. It produced a brief funnel as we watched, but little else occurred. Eventually we decided to go north of the precipitation at the rear of the storm to have a look at both our storm and the one to the north.

We carefully moved north, taking care to keep an eye on radar to make sure we would not run afoul of any hail. Soon, we popped out north of the rain.

By this time, our storm had actually developed an anticyclonic velocity couplet and briefly became an anticyclonic supercell. That, however did not last long. It ingested a small updraft on its south side, and somehow transitioned to being a normal cyclonic supercell. I’ve never seen an anticyclonic hooked supercell, much less seen one transition seamlessly to a standard cyclonic supercell.

It went tornado warned, and ultimately put down a very brief tornado on the highway that overturned a semi.

Storm Chase Day 08

The back side of the storm after the tornado, showing the updraft as well as the anvil.

A couple chasers had witnessed and filmed the tornado, so Jamie (our National Weather Service embed) spoke with them, reviewed the video, and contacted the National Weather Service office in Amarillo. As this happened, we watched the updraft of our storm fizzle and die off.

Storm Chase Day 08

This is not a healthy storm.

As we ended our chase, we were once again treated to a beautiful backlit view of convection. It’s unclear where we will be today, but there’s a more significant tornado risk than before and it’s bound to be an interesting day.

Storm Chase Day 08

Anvil striations are a thing of beauty.

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  1. HokieStorm Chase 2016 Day 8 | James Morrow

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