2019-03-13 REPORTS: NM

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Aug 16, 2009
Amarillo, TX
My first tornadoes of 2019 came from gambling on an advancing cold front in southern New Mexico. I initially wasn't going to chase because I had a terrible sinus infection. But around 11:30 am, I decided to drop down towards Lovington, NM to re-evaluate. At this point it was obvious the warm sector ahead of the front was not going to fire anything, and the only storms were going to be along the front. I strongly considered going home, but I was already here, and figured I could get some lightning behind the line. Mesoanalysis picked up a narrow sweet spot along the 285 corridor, with satellite showing a narrow band of clearing ahead of a group of storms west of Roswell down to Carlsbad. As I drove towards Artesia, the storms remained discrete and the southern storm near Carlsbad picked up a warning. I knew I wouldn't make it in time, so I committed on 2 supercells looking to split the Artesia/Roswell gap. Luckily I know this little area to have a great road network (think of Clovis/Portales type terrain/network). This area is in a bad radar gap though, so a good storm on radar resembles a nice round shape. I blasted north on HWY 285 and wanted to jump on the northern storm, because of it's radar presence. After punching a weak core from the southern storm, I was greeted to a huge occlusion occurring to my north. I knew what it was. And once I was within 3-5 miles, I could see the rapid left to right motion of the wall cloud that was still wrapped in rain. I could faintly see large rain wrapped cone in progress. The storm was still not warned at this point, so I stopped to take a photo and sent it to NWS ABQ via Twitter.

I drove passed what would've been the damage path, but there was nothing in terms of damage. I must've witnessed the rapid formation of the tornado. I continued north of the path a couple of miles before going east towards the circulation. I thought I had lost the storm due to fast storm motion, but just west of Dexter, I was able to watch the ropeout of the tornado as debris was being lofted.

I briefly spoke with a passing Sherriff, asking if they needed any help in town. He said they should be ok, as Roswell had already staged their crews to assist in the area. By this time, the cold front was roaring from the west. So I ensured him that the tornado threat is pretty much gone, and off he went thanking me.

I was genuinely surprised an EF-2 occurred here. I suppose storm motions were just fast enough to keep the storms ahead of the cold front enough to prevent them from being undercut. Although, between this and the tornado further south, there wasn't much action afterwards.