June 13 2009 Texas Storm Chase With Nice Scenery

Mar 05, 2012

 

Summary:
Targeted TX panhandle where ample clearing was aiding rapid destabilization. Intercepted first storm near Perryton where pursuit began but was cut short due to flooding across our road. Fell behind storm as it produced a tornado and dropped to next storm in string of pearls nothing impressive structure but no tornado. Storms began to congeal so allowed them to overtake me noting huge hail adding some new dents to the vehicle. Called chase nothing large structure fire on the way home. Ate dinner and roomed up in Pratt, KS for the night.
Stats:
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: 2.75″ [baseball]
Wind: est 40mph outflow
New large dents noticed on truck: 3
Detailed Account:
Awaking in Liberal it was clear I had to get south for the days target. The same areas as the day before were under the gun and the boundary was clearly visible. I made my way to Canadian TX where I had a rendezvous with Kris Hair and Kendra Reed. We agreed to team up and moved back north towards Perryton. Spotter Network reports indicated severe flooding in the area so I called Skip to see what was going on. Based off his advice we took a roundabout way to the area.
TX Scenery:
We weren’t in Perryton very long before storms fired nearby. We met up with several other chasers including Jesse Risley and crew as well as David Reimer. Watching the storm mature over Perryton it began to look good.
Mid level flow was stronger today which helped the storms move off the front as opposed to getting quickly undercut like the previous 2 days. Prospects were beginning to look good. The storm was showing some rotation and a weak wall cloud began to develop as it moved overhead.
We all moved to keep our positions only now the chaser hoards had arrived. I pulled over in what looked like stable ground but quickly sank into mud. Luckily I was able to switch it into 4 wheel drive and get right out.
The storm began to struggle a bit and we were worried it was beginning to get undercut, but we kept ahead of it knowing it still had potential. The picture shows some rapid rising motion around the area one would expect a tornado to drop.
Moving north the storms visual appearance began looking more conductive for tornadoes again.
We were now in the middle of a chaser brigade and chose to get on some back roads to be out of the mess. Unfortunately the area had received allot of rain in recent days and while we were a couple miles onto our road we came across a point where it was washed out due to flood waters. We had to backtrack a couple miles which now put us behind the storm.
Wouldn’t you know it…tornado reports now start coming in near the town of Slapout. We made a desperate attempt to catch back up, noting a possible funnel along the way.
The tornado was too wrapped up in rain though, and given the road network the storm was pulling away. Radar showed some more impressive cells forming to our south so we decided to drop towards them. Tornado reports began coming in on those now and I was starting to get a little frustrated. En route I thought once again I had a distant view of a tornado and this time I was able to get my camera on, but a conveniently placed hill was blocking my way. It is inconclusive and I have yet to see other chaser video or pictures that resemble what I saw.
One of the approaching storms showed some really nice updraft and anvil structure.
After snapping this picture I felt something crawling all over my feet. I look down to sure enough see a bunch of fire ants on me. I quickly jumped out of there and brushed them off. I only managed to get bit by one, a brief stinging pinch that was quite noticeable at the moment but only left a dull bruise. I think the fact I wear sandals saved me here, because with shoes and socks on I wouldn’t have known they were on me till they got to my legs, at which point I could have been in much more trouble.
Radar was showing some big hail falling with the storm so I moved my position ahead of it to let it core me and give me a quick escape route for shelter in case it got too big.
Watching the storm approach.
Eventually the rain started falling, then small hail, then hail a bit bigger, then THUD! Incredible large hail began to fall, I could see it exploding on the ground and bouncing out of the grass. The insanely loud sound it made as a few of the stones hit my roof was deafening. I made my escape and found some cover under a gas station a couple miles down the road. I was hoping to film the area getting hit by the huge hail but the main core had passed to the north. Chaser Bart Comstock was not far behind me and stopped to collect some of the stones. He loaned me one for a picture.
Now that is some nice hail! The hard, spikey kind that is sure to leave a mark. After this the chase was pretty much over and I began to meander towards the general direction of home. At one point I got into a hairy situation on a muddy road with a steep hill that I was unable to climb with my truck. I decided to let gravity slide me back down the hill to go the way I came but in the process slide off the road and into the [luckily] shallow ditch along side of it. I was able to reverse down to safety but that was probably the most nervous I had been on the entire trip. If I had gotten stuck it would have been a long night. I was miles from anything resembling civilization with no cell signal.
I also came across some people from England who had also gotten stuck. I marked their location and found a highway officer down the road to summon help, hopefully they made it out of there ok. I decided the chase was over as all the storms were now linear junk with only some severe hail to go after. I began to head towards home when I noticed a huge plume of black smoke. I closed in to notice a significant structure fire in progress, perhaps started by lightning.
Video I shot shows the actual fire. The amount of smoke coming from this was insane, and really altered the skies appearance.
Once making into Kansas, the setting sun against the storms off to our east provided some surreal lighting to the landscape.
I made it to about Pratt when my contact lenses began bothering me. My initial goal was to drive all the way home but with my vision getting worse and my eyes bothering me I decided to just pull over and get some rest.
Conclusion:
The Slapout tornado was a pretty nice one so I was pretty miffed about missing it. It was an embedded HP cone but several chasers were able to get nice up close video of it. Had our road not been washed out we probably would have been able to be there. The large hail was a nice consolation prize and missing the tornado was easier to handle since I bagged a nice pair just 3 days ago. Thats the good thing about scoring on the first day of the trip, it makes missing later shows easier to handle.
Map: Arrow shows where our road was washed out and the line shows approximately where the tornado occurred.
SPC Storm Reports:

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