5/15/2013 N. Texas tornado outbreak

Apr 14, 2014
18
4
1
Dallas-Fort Worth
I thought I would put this one up since nobody had posted anything about this yet. This event was overshadowed by the Moore and El Reno tornadoes that year, yet I feel it was an important event. This is a special day for me because it was the day I saw my first two tornadoes. It was my last day of my freshman year at Dallas Baptist University and had packed all my things in my car to go home to Houston the next day when I saw SPC had a 5% or 10% tornado risk for the area. If anyone has some archived weather maps from this day please share on the thread.

Anyway storms were forecasted to develop on the dryline just west of DFW by about 4-5 PM. A little after 4, I got on I-20 and headed east. Towers had started going up and I exited near Weatherford and followed what looked like a developing LP supercell and I believe it was the same storm that produced tornadoes near Alvord and Sunset. I followed it to the Parker/Wise county line before hearing a loud boom and turning around to see a storm had developed behind me and I had not seen it. I turned around and headed back down the road.

The storm had a tornado warning on it a spotters reported a tornado near Milsap, Texas. I stopped to get a view but the base was blocked by a rain and hail curtain. I rushed south of Weatherford as golf balls started falling from the sky. I got some great views of the updraft structure before I saw something in the rain. As I came around the corner, I observed the last few minutes of the Milsap tornado as it roped out several miles away. I also saw another brief tornado after this.

Meanwhile, to my south, another supercell had quickly developed. This cell would produce the EF4 tornado that destroyed homes and killed 6 people near Granbury, Texas. It would also go on to produce several more tornadoes including a wedge that impacted the southwest side of Cleburne.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/fwd/?n=tornadoes051513

NOAA's write up after the event.

The Granbury storm I thought was interesting. A very powerful EF4, yet a very short path length of less than 3 miles. If I remember correctly, I think some of the meteorologist did not understand at the time just how strong this tornado would be. The velocity scans I don't thing provided a whole lot of info, maybe because it popped up and intensified so quickly. This is just my observation from looking back at some videos of weather coverage from that day. By contrast, the Cleburne wedge was easy to see via radar that it was strong and wide. Anyway if anyone has better knowledge on this than me please share as I was and still am an amateur in these areas.
 
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DNewman

EF1
Nov 18, 2011
54
1
5
Dallas,Tx
Yes I certainly agree, that this event was FAR overshadowed by the Moore tornado. I remember that day like it happened yesterday.

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Wade Robberson

Enthusiast
Jul 30, 2017
5
0
0
Acton, TX
What a day. Right in my backyard (lived in Granbury at the time and still do). Still unreal to think about. Not many chasers on that particular hood and Johnson county cell. Granbury tornadonwould have been impossible chase being it's track and the lake. Sad day for our community.
 
Sep 29, 2011
640
587
21
47
Fort Worth, TX
www.passiontwist.com
We originally headed north on 35 to try and get to the ongoing t-warned cell near the RR, but as soon as the new storm developed west of Fort Worth, we decided to break off our original plan and target this new storm. Headed back south on 35 to 820, then took that west and south down to I-20, where we turned back west. WE were driving head-on towards the storm, but I was fearful of giant hail impacting us while being "stuck" on an interstate with possibly no exits close by to escape on. I made a fatal error by trusting my map at face value, and took a road (TX 5) that looked decent enough. However it became twisty and winding and very tree-lined, to the point where i lost my bearings and couldn't figure out what direction we were facing (that rarely happens to me).

Sat in rural neighborhood trying to figure out where we were and what direction to go. Eventually we got a view of what I assume was the Milsap tornado, and shortly thereafter decided to just backtrack the way we'd come in to try and get back to familiar roads. In doing this, I inadvertently took a different turn which accidentally brought us out to TX171 south of Weatherford. Once this happened, I realized I had accidentally placed us in a great position to view the storm. We just worked that stretch of 171 between Annetta and Cresson, observing a trio of tornadoes, all weak and short-lived. The Grandbury storm was starting to squeeze us out between it and the one we were on, but eventually it began to fizzle and we were able to thread the needle before giving up the chase east of Granbury along US377 after rolling up on a rollover accident. There were no injuries, and because we'd seen a police until a few miles back at a store we'd passed, we decided to turn back and go grab that officer. When we got to the store, the cop was gone, so we drove back to the accident scene.....and everyone who'd been there before was gone, leaving just a pickup truck laying on its side.