Storms or Bananas

22 May 2016

Today’s best chances for storms would be in the Texas panhandle, and the best chance of missing them would be in a banana shop…

The forecast area would be in northern Texas and western Oklahoma, where a continuation of the recent return of moisture to the area would provide the fuel for some storms to fire up along the dry line. The risk area was all the way from The Canadian border down to Mexico, so there were plenty of choices, but the best chance for the sort of storms we like was, fortunately, a couple of hours down the road.

We left Garden City, Kansas and initially tracked our way down to Dalhart in the west of the Texas panhandle. This looked like a promising location for initiation of storms. It was a 4 hour drive but we found ourselves there in good time to have some lunch and await the day’s weather starting to show its colours. The SPC added some confidence to the day’s plan when they issued a tornado warning for the area, so when a storm started firing to our southeast we made a quick start towards it, but no sooner as we had started to make headway a storm to our north started taking good shape, causing us to have a rapid change of heart and head for that. It must have heard us coming though and quickly fizzled out.


By now another cell had established itself near the town of Spearman. It all seemed relatively disorganised, but it was certainly in a good environment and was showing off its poor skills as a cocktail maker with ice going everywhere. Nevertheless it appeared the best storm in the area. We tracked underneath it as a new cell quickly arose to its south. We wanted to get to its east side and judged that we had enough time to get there before the cell to the south’s hail core cut us off. We judged wrong. The cell was being ingested by the main storm and as this took place the hail core propagated forwards on our heads. It very quickly went from a few drops of rain to noisy mayhem. We made a swift u-turn and waited just out of the storm’s reach while it pummelled the road ahead of us.

Once it had passed we headed round the new southern perimeter of the storm and made it into a decent position, however it still seemed too disorganised to give us any decent sights. We decided to take a little look at a new part of the storm to its south and then, as it didn’t look too good, to go and get some petrol. And bananas. About 30 miles south. Then we would decide what to do, which, as it turned out, would be race back north to try and get back on the storm we’d left that had now become a well-structured tornado producer. We were too late, though, and by the time we got back in range it was raining too hard to see anything within, and we’d missed the proverbial boat. The storm still looked menacing and we knew from recent reports that an ongoing tornado within was large and dangerous (ranked as a PDS - Particularly Dangerous Situation - by the weather service), so nothing we were going to get involved with beyond viewing its ominous precipitation core.

pds hailcore

The bananas were pretty good bananas though, so that was something.

hopeful look

As the storm moved away, arcing southeast we headed up to a new cell that had formed in the main storm’s wake, driving through some areas where clean-up crews were clearing the road of vegetation apparently cast onto it by a passing tornado. The storm we were after wasn’t looking that good but sometimes you feel like the weather owes you one. It didn’t feel the same, but we did encounter the loudest frog chorus we’d ever heard, during a nice sunset.

We finished our day in a small local motel with a jumble-sale sheik feel but everything we needed to forget about the day’s big mess up and prep for another day tomorrow.

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

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Sun May 2016

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Sun May 2016

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