2019-05-04 REPORTS: CO/KS/NM/OK/TX

Jun 16, 2015
Oklahoma City, OK
I set out for the High Plains yesterday and debated between two targets. After getting to Amarillo around midday, I opted to drift north, as there were signs that convection would soon be initiating in southeastern Colorado.

A cluster of semi-discrete storms formed in Baca County and as I got closer in, I was not too impressed with what I was seeing. With dew-points in the mid to upper 40s, these storms were struggling to intensify and cloud bases were quite high.

One storm near the Oklahoma border did organize better and started producing large hail. I dropped south through the storm to get a better look from the south side. There still wasn't much of a visual and storms were starting to fire farther south, on either side of the New Mexico/Texas border. For the time, I stayed with the storm that was crossing into the Oklahoma Panhandle.
The storm continued to better organize, moving into somewhat more favorable low-level moisture. Despite near-surface winds of 10-20 knots (kicking up a lot of dust in the inflow region), dew-points were only around 50 degrees. There were times in which the storm looked like it was trying to form a wall cloud, but these attempts were not enough.

I drifted south a bit as more storms were firing in the northern Texas panhandle, but the most intense supercells were forming south of I-40. There was also a debris signature on radar just northeast of Adrian. I was much too far away to catch this storm, but I did catch some mammatus at sunset on the back side of the storms.
I still consider today a successful chase for having supercells to follow and a few photo opportunities, but it was clear that any bonafide tornado threat and potential for intense supercells was going to be where there was better low-level moisture. Dew-points were in the lower 50s near I-40 and even higher farther south. Kudos to storm chasers who caught the more southern supercells! I hung back north for logistical reasons and jumped on some of the early storms in hopes for a longer window of chasing.

Patience is key!
Jul 25, 2012
Albuquerque, NM
Hi folks! I admittedly peruse the forecast discussions more than I've been able to contribute the last several years (chock it up to only having time to chase once or twice a year), but I wanted to share a couple images of a beautiful classic/LP supercell we chased in west TX on 5/4. We posted up in Tatum, NM, at the southern edge of an agitated cumulus bank waiting for initiation mid-afternoon, as the model guidance suggested modestly better backed surface winds near the southeastern NM border with west TX, relative to further north. As it turned out, better-than-expected SRH materialized further north near Amarillo and led to a confirmed tornado later in the day.

We watched towers go up just west of Tatum and a single supercell became dominant within the next hour or so. We debated heading toward another vigorously developing supercell about 60 miles to our north, which was showing a bit better organization and initially superior mid-level rotation. It also appeared our cell might meander into more strongly capped air once it crossed the border into TX, potentially minimizing tornado potential on a day that was already marginal in terms of Td's and LCLs. However, our cell exploded and rapidly organized, convincing us to stick around for the show. In the end, we were treated to some of the most beautiful structure I've ever seen and a completely unobstructed view of the rapidly rotating updraft base. Our best view was from a random wildflower patch looking north, as the storm drifted slowly to the southeast. At this point, a couple very modest wall clouds tried to form, but they were fleeting. The storm weakened and looked less organized on radar shortly after sunset, but ended up catching a second wind after sundown as the LLJ cranked up, going tornado warned. However, we decided to bail at this point and begin our 5-hour drive back to the Albuquerque area. Despite no tornadoes, this was a photographically rewarding and very enjoyable chase in great terrain (spare the frequent whiffs of methane and other petroleum outgassing compounds) with a great road network.


Here's a wider panoramic stitch of the storm, though don't look too close, as I did these handheld and wound up with some parallax issues during the stitching process. (I've since learned my lesson and bought a nodal slide for my panning head to ensure this doesn't happen again!)