Last minute gentleman’s chase tracking an elevated supercell across north central Texas yielded some half dollar size hail.
Hail: 1.25″ (Half Dollar)
Wind: est 40mph
Return flow encountering a nearly stationary boundary/warm front sparking off isolated supercells in a weakly, moderately unstable airmass. Straight line hodographs favored splitting storms favoring hail, but if a storm could become surface based there would be a tornado threat.
After each winter, I always anxiously await the year’s first chase. The season has been off to a pretty active start across parts of the deep south, setups which I have sat out. I also sat out a setup closer to home a couple days ago that ended up not verifying. The itch was very real. While on an extended visit to the Dallas area I awoke to see isolated supercells developing across the area. The setup wasn’t ideal and normally not the type to lure me out on my first chase, but I was in the area so I decided to bolt out the door for a gentleman’s chase to get into some hail. My most recent partner Chelsea was also down to tag along.
I left the apartment and stair stepped ahead of a developing storm, giving it time to mature.
While positioning a road closure forced me to backtrack a solid 15 minute. I see 2017 wasted no time throwing challenges my way. I met up with Chelsea and she jumped into my ride and we were off. It didn’t take long to position on the storm, catching a brief bout of pea to dime size hail and some downburst winds approaching 40mph with whiteout conditions. Suddenly a downed tree appeared in the road infront of us. Really?
The tree was obviously dead and very weak so I doubt it was actual severe winds that took it down. Thankfully I was able to drive through the ditch to get around it so our progress wasn’t hindered too much. Are blocked roads going to be a theme of this year. We continued to track the storm as it pulsed up and down. At one point I opted to leave the backroads for a paved highway and we hit a significant traffic snarl. The storm pulled away from us as a result, but we found a new route and were able to catch back up as it displayed a wannabe wall cloud.
Reaching the small town of Windom, we placed ourselves ahead of the core, but it became apparent it would slide a little further east as some more pea size hail began falling. We jogged east to Honey Grove, where the hail picked up in size and intensity. The storm had pulsed up overhead and unleashed a good bout of hail, eventually covering the ground and reaching half dollar size.
The storm began dying a quick death after this and it was apparent this was its best attempt to become better organized. We tracked it east to Paris (Texas, not France) where we stopped for a fast food snack and to bum some wifi so I could work on some video. Once that was complete we took a look at radar, with no new storms to go after we called it a day and headed back to the apartment, arriving before sundown.
Today was a nice little “warm up” “equipment test” chase. I went to bed not even thinking about chasing and woke up to bolting out the door last minute to try and get into some hail. Catching the storm at its strongest point was pretty much the best we could have done for the day, and thats what we did. 1.25″ makes it officially severe hail. I’ll take it for the first short chase of the year! A bigger setup in my home turf lurks tomorrow, the 2017 season has begun!