You Snooze, you Win!

31 May 2016

Searching for a tornado in an enormous marginal risk area is a tall ask. We may not have found the metaphorical needle in the haystack, but we did get on a great storm and I did get a bit scared, so definitely a successful day.

This was the second day in a row where we started out with only an SPC marginal risk. This is great for testing and hopefully advancing our forecasting skills as there is no 'bullseye' area where all the parameters are in place for good storms. If this was the case anywhere, a delineated risk area would most likely reflect it.

Instead we are faced with an enormous area where there may be some OK storms. We then have to decide which parameters are most important and where the storms might be best, using our own experiences and ability to read the weather models.

So today was one of those days. To add further complication, overnight storms left outflow boundaries that were also impacting current conditions. We took as long as we could in the motel, which was until midday, going over the weather models (and enjoying some after breakfast snoozing).

A look at the visible satellite loops, which shows current convection over the US showed an outflow boundary not too far north and there appeared to be some little clouds bubbling up on the western edge, so we headed up to this which was about one hour's drive north. 

It was a pleasant drive and the sun was out. The cumulus looked slightly agitated but nothing was popping save a few little hailers, which before long rained themselves out, triggering another to pop up next to it.

Blue Sky Pano

We watched some of these, noting how many of the clouds around here were also tinged with pink, which we could only put down to the reflection of all the reddy-brown Texas fields - but it was quite dreamy nonetheless.

Storm and Corn

We continued in this fashion for a while, making our way east along the boundary into an area of greater moisture. We stopped at a gassy for a drink, discussed where we might have lunch, and then drove on a bit more. We passed through a town called O'Donnell where we thought we might find a park, but it was bit too deathy and the prospect of leaving the car to use a picnic bench we spied 50 meters off the road but what may well have been located in a local’s garden was not appealing. So we drove on a bit more and found a layby to park up in. 

We pitched ourselves in the path of a small sausage-shaped storm that was slowly rolling our way. We made a sandwich and snoozed a bit. About an hour later the sausage roll was upon us. I though it looked OK and took a photo.

Snoozy storm

We were still parked in the layby with the seats back and our legs raised up resting on the frame of the open doors when we saw hordes of other chasers zoom past. We sat and waved to them as they passed, taking great comfort that everyone was on with the same sausage-storm, showing it to probably be the best shot in the area.

We were just about to set off and bring up the rear, but before we could, one of the storm chasing guys about-turned and came to say hi, having seen us parked up waving at all the other chasers passing by.

We hadn’t met before and introduced ourselves. We checked the radar together and agreed a new cell a little further south looked a better prospect. After a little chat, we said our goodbyes, and gave the statutory farewell wishes of ‘good luck’ and ‘stay safe’.

We headed south and began to get a glimpse of the new storm we had only seen on radar. He looked great and we were both really excited. He emanated structure-fest potential and was throwing CGs out all over the place. As it turned out this is what had caught the eye of the other chasers who were also dotted around on the other farm roads.

Entire Storm and Lightning

Wall Cloud

The combination of a new mapping tool that Timbo recently developed to replace our old navigational software, coupled with some decent small paved roads in the area allowed us to get into the best position and we got some great shots, especially with apocalyptic oil donkeys pumping oil in the foreground.

Golden Donkey Storm

Running From The Donkey

We played around with the storm taking photos for another half hour or so, before it started to dissipate. But not before tryng to capture some more lightning from it as it came nearer.

Lightning and Shelf

Timbo and Storm

An hour later and we were checked in at a motel up the road, perhaps paying a little more than originally planned, but a negligible amount to avoid staying in somewhere were the most recent review was from a customer who’s door got shot in overnight during an DEA raid next door.

We ended the day, surrounded by rooms of other chasers – obviously a popular choice of motel, beer in hand, looking through all our photos - just like the olden days when we had storms!

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

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

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Tue May 2016

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