First HP Supercell

08 May 2015

This morning we woke up to some of the worst visibility we’d experienced. We struggled to initially see 50m in front of us for the thick fog outside the car. It was good enough however to spot the flatty! Uh oh.

IMG 1519

Luckily due to sleeping in the car that night we were only about a 1 minute limp from the Autocare section of Walmart, where the friendly Texan Walmart worker men had the tyre off, the puncture found and the spare on in less than an hour. It would have been quicker but first they couldn’t find the puncture, then discovered in was in the side wall so couldn’t easily be fixed and then couldn’t locate the necessary tools in the car to enable them to fix the spare on due to the crazy amount of stuff we take around with us – suitcases, tons of camera equipment, sleeping bags, about 4 different pillows, bags of food…etc. Unfortunately this does mean we’ll have to be returning the car at some point, but this was another prime example of just how user-friendly it is out here; within an hour of discovering the flatty, we were on the road again. The next point of concern was the 3 rapidly growing supercells that were heading up this way. Granted it was a ‘moderate’ risk day and therefore extra care was needed but it was only 11 o’clock and we hadn’t anticipated development this early.

We fuelled up surrounded by hordes of other chasers and tele crews and made a quick dive south to get underneath the storms as they approached from the southwest. All 3 were following the same track but the source was even further southwest closer to Lubbock which tempted us further down that way. The other factor that we had to try to contend with was the damn fog everywhere. Visibility was still very low but seemed to clear the further south we went.

The last cell to track up from Lubbock was by far the strongest and we managed to get onto a good road south to view it as it approached. It was huge and very scary. We tried to take a little farm road in to get a closer view and then drove for about 5 minutes directly towards the storm. But no sooner had we found a spot we decided to turn back as 4 of the loudest booms of thunder I’ve ever heard hit us one after the other, in such quick succession that the first rumble hadn’t even finished before the next came. Ground trembling rumbles that instantly made you aware the storm was startingt to get too close for comfort. And with a storm so large that it stretches across your entire view of the horizon, glowing green underneath the darkest layer of cloud, you know it’s not one to take any chances with. It was threatening us with a great big booming voice. We should go. So we turned and headed back out to the main road south just as the rain started to spatter the windscreen. It’s often only seconds before the splattering turns to hail. Feeling in a better position being on the main road south, I got some pics and felt comfort in there being a few other chasers around also playing this cat and mouse game with the storm.

Weather Out Of The Car Window

Our Car And The Oncoming Weather

First Shelf

We continued like this for a while and managed to get into an even better position to the south east of the storm rather than being directly in its path. It was absolutely amazing and gave us some great photo opps.

Farmhouse Storm

 

Shelf

It was however propagating to the south, so our road soon became in its path again so it was back to the old cat and mouse game. By this stage it had fully developed into a high precipitation supercell so the chance of seeing any photogenic tornadoes was slim, but what we did have was a massive, rumbling, monster of a storm which had 4.25inch hail and a tornado already reported from it – all hidden in the middle of it somewhere. Hence the need to keep in front!

Being early in the season this was possible to do and the roads weren’t rammed with other chasers which they sometimes can be later in the year. Although there were still a fair few about, everyone was friendly and waving, acknowledging each other’s excitement and awe at what we were all watching. It also gave peace of mind knowing that junctions weren’t going to be blocked with traffic and that the escape routes, should they be needed, shouldn’t be chocka with other vehicles also trying to get out of there after timing things a bit too close!

Quick Weather Photo Of Shelf Cloud On Approach

Oh and we found a big iron bull on the side of the road too!

Weather And Iron Bull

So we continued east until the south east movement of the storm meant we were no longer able to track with it and had to let it go. The storms weren’t over though and there were a number of other cells both old and new in the area. We timed our journey into the town of Graham sidling between some new cells and it was there we decided that rather than trying to outrun them and get somewhere safe, seeing as though they were no longer tornado warned, we’d grab a motel and a beer and in the usual fashion, sit out there in the porchway of the motel and watch it as it passed over us in spectacular glory.

Storm Beer

SPC Day 1 Weather Outlook as at 06:00UTC (01:00 Central Time the night before)

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Fri May 2015

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Fri May 2015

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