Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Day Three (second day chasing)

Alex Thornton checking in....
Day two consisted of a ton of excitement and a good bit of disappointment as well. When we woke up in Odessa yesterday, we were already in a great position. The conditions were great for the formation of severe thunderstorms and possible tornado activity. We waited in Odessa until around noon before making our first move. The HRRR and NAM had both hinted at a long living cell that would set up south of Highway 10 around McCamey, Texas. Therefore, when we started seeing cells popping up in that general area, we blasted south to try and catch it. In the process of doing this, I lost my hat out the window while taking some pictures(R.I.P). Soon after setting up in a position where we had a good visual, we spotted our first Tornado.

 Because we were there from the very beginning, we were able to give early warning to the surrounding towns and their law enforcement. Soon after making our report, the cell was Severe Warned and also Tornado warned. The tornado lasted somewhere around 5-8 minutes and we watched it from start to finish!

We repositioned ourselves further south(storm had southward motion) and observed the cell as it matured even further. The structure that we observed was amazing. I was able to pick out every textbook structure that supercells usually have. This cell continued to be Tornado warned as we watched for the next few hours. 

In the process of observing we came in close contact with many anvil lightning strikes which inspired us to move further south. One strike(which we caught on camera) was easily within 20 yards of the truck as we were all sitting inside. *Sidenote* seconds before the lightning struck we all heard a static noise and had the full on experience of the hair on our arms sticking up. 

After moving south to get further from the lightning threat, we were able to find another good vantage point and pulled off the road. At this point, the cell was still tornado warned and more chasers began to show up. This is also the point where we began to be out of cell service and would be for most of the day. 
The radar images that we did get minutes before indicated an area of strong rotation and hook echo. The only problem was, rain was hindering us from seeing much into the inflow area of the storm(best viability spot). We could see a pronounced base and brief periods of a hanging wall cloud. 
Before too long, some of the rain cleared out as it neared our position and we were able to make out our second tornado of the day. We were able to watch it for a few minutes before rain made it too hard to see once again. We also think that it soon dissipated after this. 

As the cell got closer, the structure became amazing!

As the storm continued to move south east, we noticed that we needed to move further south in order to not get caught up in what was more than likely 1(+) inch hail. In the process of doing this, we came in extremely close contact with the business end of the storm. 

The structure found in this part of the storm was unreal. We were able to safely get south of the storm and eventually get further east. We also found ourselves getting low on gas and had to make some difficult decisions. We ended up jumping off the storm and heading to Sanderson, Texas to fill up on gas. From here we headed to Fort Stockton to get a hotel room. 

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