2021-05-17 REPORTS: TX/NM

Aug 9, 2012
Galesburg, IL
Day 1 of my chasecation turned out to be very hot. I was expecting a good setup, but not nearly as good as what I got, which was a little bit of everything. I targeted the Big Spring, TX area due to it's location near a remnant outflow boundary which intersected a dry line that was arcing NW back into New Mexico. I wasn't a fan of the lower moisture on either side of this so I decided to stick with the bubbling convection near and east of Big Spring near Stanton, TX. This went on for 90 minute to 2 hours before one cell took over and turned SE. We encountered VERY large hail south of Big Springs, TX approximately 3.5-4" in diameter. We watched 2 funnel clouds form, I was initially unsure of whether they touched down but I got confirmation from fellow chaser Evan Hatch that one indeed touch down about 3 miles to my SW near Elbow, TX! We made the move of driving S and then back to the N on another major highway (road network is bad here) and managed to intercept the storm right as it dropped a large white tornado near Sterling City, Texas. This was a very photogenic bright white tornado from our position and we attained excellent stills and video. This tornado appeared to lift with multiple vortex on the ground and a cone would condense every now and then. It either handed off to a new tornado or was a continuation of the long track tornado, but a very large tornado approached highway 163 and ended up impacting a gas plant. The nearby wind farm recorded a 112 mph wind gust I was informed by one of the employees in the RFD of the tornadic storm as the large tornado passed very nearby. We probably encountered close to 80-90 mph winds in the RFD before turning around. The day was capped off by incredible HP storm structure, mammatus, and a nice sunset.

Here are some stills I shot thoughout the day:

Tornado touchdown to my NW in rural Sterling City, TX area

We managed to pull over and the tornado grew quite large almost reaching wedge status at one point before lifting.

Excellent storm structure with large tornado ongoing underneath


Cone tornado recondenses under long-lived tornado cyclone.

Very large tornado approaching highway 163 about to become shrouded in heavy rain/hail. We encountered extreme winds after this and bailed south. I'm not sure if this was the same tornado of just a continuation of a long track tornado that lasted nearly 55 minutes. Either way, it was quite an intense chase and I have quite a bit of photographic material to sort through.
Jun 4, 2018
Altus, OK
My first chase of 2021, and first since 2019, was characterized by a few critical mistakes and a lot of learning. My plan for the day was to leave Altus, OK and head SW to Paducah, TX. Once in Paducah I would decide whether to go ahead and push west a little further or move south to Guthrie. Either way, my plan was to wait for initiation and pick up the storms as they moved towards me.

I left Altus around 1pm, and followed my plan to Paducah, gassed up, and decided to move south to Guthrie. Mistake #1 was not sticking with my original plan, wasting time in Guthrie second guessing myself, and then finally deciding to head west on US 82 towards Lubbock. While in Guthrie, I noticed a cell getting going just SW of Spur and Gerard (SW of my position). My gut said to break off and stick with it, but I decided to continue pushing west, all the while second guessing (mistake #2). I was a few miles west of Dickens when the aforementioned cell went severe warned. I decided to stop my push west and double back. Initially I attempted to get SE to Girard, but the storm was really getting its act together and appeared (on radar) to already be pumping out some hefty hail near there. Not wanting to get caught in a potentially expensive situation, I cut back north to 82 once I got to Spur. At this point, another storm had kicked off east of my target storm. My plan was then to go east on 82 back to Guthrie, head south on 83 and basically shoot the gap between the 2 storms to get a better view. Well as I headed east, that gap continued to get smaller and smaller, and by the time I reached Guthrie, that gap was then occupied by yet another hail core. Again, not wanting to chance an encounter with hail bigger than what I'm comfortable with, I held in Guthrie for a bit and decided to push back north to Paducah. Just north of Guthrie, I stopped on a hill and snapped some long shots looking back to the south. The cell, now nearing Guthrie, split and so i made a move on the left split, which promptly dissipated. Another cell became warned west of Paducah, and then fizzled out as I was heading north to make a play. As if to add insult to injury, around this time the cell I had initially gone after went tornado warned. At this point I topped off again in Paducah and headed home.

While not a meteorologically successful chase, I did learn a lot about following my gut and second guessing/ hesitation in the heat of the chase. While following my gut would have still prevented me from seeing the structure/ tornadoes that other folks did, I would have at least been in position on a storm. I also got a chance to use my camera and tripod on a chase, both of which are new to me since my last chase in 2019. I'm off work until after Memorial Day, so hopefully some more opportunities will present themselves while I have the flexibility to chase, and I can apply what I learned yesterday. While not meteorologically significant, I uploaded a few of my favorite shots. All are looking SW towards the cell that was SW of Guthrie.



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