June 13 2010 Texas Gorilla Hail

Feb 27, 2012


Targeted TX panhandle. Intercepted first storm near Perryton that wound up producing tornado near Slapout that we fell behind due to flooded road. Dropped south to next storms in line noting impressive structure, eventually let storm overtake me with very large hail adding dents to the chase vehicle. Called chase and headed towards home while driving by a significant structure fire. Roomed up in Pratt, KS for the night.
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: 2.75″ [baseball]
Wind: est 40mph outflow
Evil creature encountered: Fire ants.
Detailed Account:
Todays setup was similar to yesterdays with a stalled, well defined frontal boundary. I woke up on time to get into the warm sector with plenty of time before initiation. I made my way down to Canadian, TX where I had a rendezvous with Kris Hair and Kendra Reed. We agreed to team up for the day and made our way back towards Perryton. Spotter Network reports indicated significant flooding in town so I called Skip to get a first hand account. He advised it was probably better to avoid the main route so we took a different way that took us to the east side of town.
TX scenery.
We weren’t in Perryton long before the first storms went up over town. We watched for awhile as it began to organize. The storm made several attempts to wrap up and put down a wall cloud but had not yet moved off the front and was getting undercut.
Unlike the last 2 days, today there was stronger mid level flow so we thought the storm would reorganize and we moved to keep ahead of it. I pulled over on what I thought was stable ground but sank into some mud. Luckily I was able to put the truck in 4wd and crawl out otherwise my chase could have come to an early end.
The storm began to reorganize and soon earned a tornado warning. We could see some rapid rising motion taking place.
The storm began to slowly organize and we were keeping good pace with it. By now the hoards of chasers had caught up with us so it was a bit messy trying to navigate through all of that.
We decided to take some back roads to get closer to the storm and stay out of the traffic jam. This plan was going well until our road suddenly became washed out. We then had to backtrack a few miles which put us behind the storm.
Sure enough, what happens? It produces. Tornado reports started coming in, we made an attempt to catch back up but to no avail, the storm was very wrapped up and had pulled away from us. I did spot a possible funnel though.
Radar showed some impressive looking storms to our south so we decided to ditch this storm and get into better position for the next ones in line. It was too late though, en route tornado reports came in on those as well. I was beginning to get frustrated, I saw what I thought was a tornado, and this time was able to get my camera on in time but of course a hill was obstructing my view and by the time I had a clear view it was gone. The video is inconclusive and I have yet to see other chaser pictures or video that resembles what I saw so I will leave it at that.
The next storm displayed some impressive structure from afar.
Shortly after taking this photo I felt a tickling sensation on my foot. I looked down to see a bunch of ants all over it. I quickly jumped back and brushed them all off but not before feeling a sharp sting on my ankle. I smacked it in reflexive response and sure enough a [now] dead fire ant fell to the ground. Those little guys pack quite a sting but it never really left a mark. Im crediting my sandals for saving me because if I was wearing shoes and socks I wouldn’t have known they were on me till it was too late.
Continuing after the storm, radar indicated some pretty large hail so I put myself in position to view the storm while allowing the storms core to come at me with a quick escape route for shelter.
The storm became another messy HP blob and I let it overtake me. First rain, then small hail, then a little bit larger hail, and then THUNK! A few deafening pounds on the roof indicated very large stones were falling. I looked out the window to see them exploding on the ground and bouncing out of the grass. I decided it was time to flee, taking a few more hard hits from the very large stones. The sound was again deafening. I found a gas station nearby and parked under it and was ready to film the onslaught but the core moved north and I was left with nothing bigger than quarters.
Bart Comstock was behind me and he stopped to collect some of the stones, he loaned me one for a photo.
Now thats some hail! The large, hard spikey kind that will leave a mark on whatever they hit. After this all the storms had congealed into a mess and were well east of me. I called the chase and headed for home. At one point I had a very nervous drive down a slippery mud road, which was fine until it came to a steep hill that my truck could not climb up. I made it about half way before getting stuck. I decided to let gravity take me down but in the process slid off the road into the shallow ditch. Luckily it was shallow and I was able to reverse myself down the hill and went back the way I came. If I had gotten stuck that would have been a nightmare. I was miles from anything resembling civilization.
I came across some chasers from England who were stuck. I marked their location and found a sheriff who I had summon help so hopefully they made it out of there ok. Further down the road I noticed a huge plume of smoke arise out of nowhere.
Driving past revealed a pretty significant structure fire. I shot some brief video and continued on my way. The smoke coming out of this was insane and left a black scar on the sky.
Further into KS the setting sun against the storms well off to the east lit up the environment in some surreal colors.
My plan was to make it home but my eyes started to really bother me. I was not tired and I figured it was irritation in my contact lenses, perhaps from the smoke from the fire. I decided rather than drive 10hrs home with blurred vision I would pull over in Pratt, KS for the night.
Missing the Slapout tornado miffed me a bit knowing it was a flooded road that caused it. It was a messy cone embedded in HP madness but some chasers were able to get nice up close video of it. Allot of other things happened which made it an overall adventurous chase. I had scored some nice tornadoes on day 1 of the chase, which has amazing effect on how upset I get about missing other tornadoes on other chases. I was ready to return home a happy man.
Map, arrow shows where the road was washed out, line shows approximate location of the tornado.
SPC Storm Reports:

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