April 16th 2016 Texas Panhandle Severe Storms

Apr 21, 2016


Tracked several storms across the panhandle, most failing to produce severe weather, but one storm briefly ramped up and made an attempt at tornadogenesis.


Tornadoes: 0
Hail: .50″ (dime)
Wind: n/a

The Forecast:

Increasing moisture from the day before, with shear veering out and becoming more unidirectional. Cloud cover due to morning storms also a concern, but sharpening dryline would focus renewed thunderstorm development, especially if clearing occurred and more instability was realized. Northward moving supercells were possible with initial storm mode. Storm coverage was expected to be numerous, and SPC went 5% for almost the same areas as the previous day. I liked areas south of Amarillo where 500mb winds were more westerly, leading to better directional shear.

Detailed Account:

I woke up feeling really good about the previous day’s magic trick. Initial hopes the night before were high, but the forecast seemed to trend downward slightly now. Still, we were right in the target area so why not try. We left the hotel and made our way back to the Texas part of the panhandle region. I liked the areas further south of Amarillo and that was the plan. Some early afternoon storms made for some cool skies as we re-traced the previous days steps.
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Storms went up near Amarillo as we closed in, and they wound up detouring me away from my original target area. We got ahead of the first cell with ease as they were moving somewhat slow, but displayed a linear appearance on radar.
Shear was too unidirectional and they were lining out pretty fast. We stopped in Claude to wait for the first storm, then cat-n-moused it a couple times as we kept pace to the east. A better looking storm was moving up from the south, and we decided to drop towards it, taking us through a flat part of the canyon. It appeared south of Clarendon the hail core would beef up and we were in store for a good core punch. Approaching from the north, my favorite move.

We just missed it though, by probably a minute, but were dealt a few seconds of hail up to dime size for our efforts. This storm appeared to weaken so we let it go. We kept south, making for tail end charlie, arriving at a desolate highway intersection that was littered with other storm chasers, pretty much the only other people you’ll see out here on a day like this. We sat there for a bit and waited, as the sloppy looking storm approached. The thunder got louder and more frequent, breaking up the pure silence…minus the occasional tooting vuvuzela coming from one of the storm chaser vehicles everytime someone drove by, that was quite humorous.

The storm passed and looked rather unimpressive with a high based whales mouth and linear precip core. We didn’t pursue it initially and sat for a few more moments. We decided to make our way back north towards home when the storm recycled and began to take on a beefier appearance. The chase was back and we kept after it, getting north of the town of Hedley (which was blowing their tornado sirens during a severe thunderstorm warning for half dollar size hail) the storm made its best attempt at organization.

A well defined wall cloud formed, with a clear slot nudging in. It ALMOST looked like it was going to try to make something happen here.

It quickly fell apart after this though, as it was moving into worked over air from previous storms, as well as an overall less favorable environment. We officially called the chase and began heading for home. A quick driver swap and I was behind the wheel as darkness fell. Other severe storms had formed all across Texas as a heavy rain event was about underway. We punched through a particularly strong cell near Wichita Falls, and the positive CG lightning located inside the vault was INSANE. One after another bolts crashing down nearby for a period of about 5 minutes. It was a mistake not filming any of that, as I was too awe struck and enjoying the assault at the moment. Looking back, I’m really mad at myself for that…stupid…stupid…stupid. It would have been some amazing lightning video. Won’t make that mistake again! Arriving back around midnight, the day was officially over.


Storm wise – today fell short of initial expectations, but was otherwise a good chase. We made good timing and positioning on the storms we did get on, and thats all you can really do. The structure on the last storm as it made an attempt was pretty good, so at least there was that. The lightning assault on the way home was easily a top 10 of all the CG assaults I’ve been through. As I mentioned above…I wont make the mistake of not filming something like that again. At this point, the models are also forecasting something big coming in April’s final week, so I’m ready to get out there again!

Map: Today’s chase is highlighted.

SPC Reports:

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