2024-05-30 REPORTS: TX/NM

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Mar 30, 2008
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Norman, OK
Pretty documented in the event thread, however, I did write a chase recap as well for the 30th. Started in Lubbock, ended up on the storm south of Midland and drove home to Norman that night. One tornado from a distance south of Midland. Missed the other two stuck in traffic (ugh)

Chase recap is posted

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Finally getting around to posting this, over two weeks after the chase. Surprised Ben's is the only Report up so far, as this was easily one of the top four chase days of the second half of May. For me, despite missing the tornado, it was second only to Silverton on June 2, since I blew off Iowa on May 21 and missed Eldorado while cap-busting in southwest Kansas on May 23.

As documented in the Events thread for this day, we initially targeted the OFB near Denver City, TX. I was already aggravated when I departed from Amarillo, realizing we had wasted the previous afternoon driving from Midland to Amarillo for no reason. But my mood improved as we passed through Brownfield and turkey towers began rising up out of the bubbling Cu along the OFB. We stopped outside of Seagraves to observe the now-numerous turkey towers. Radar showed a storm near Bledsoe that looked best at the time, but the deeper moisture and backed winds seemed to be in the vicinity of Denver City / Plains / Seagraves.

However, cells were struggling for some reason (capping?). I began to think about going south. Initially I thought of heading southeast toward Patricia (south of Lamesa), and began to migrate in that direction. (I can't even remember exactly why at this point; clearly I saw some favorable parameters, but I can't recall if it was based on surface obs or a look at the SPC mesoanalysis of 3CAPE/surface vorticity). In an example of the mental fog and tunnel vision that seems to victimize me at times while chasing, I had RadarScope set to the Lubbock radar and failed to realize how much more prominent the OFB showed up on the Odessa radar. The OFB had clearly continued progressing, and was now south of Midland. I was now caught between the cells still trying to organize in my original target area, and other new development down near Midland. It's never good to be in the middle of two areas of development. I finally committed to Midland and blasted south, ultimately approaching from the north on route 349.

As we neared the city, we passed through the fringe of the forward flank of the Midland storm. It was ~5pm, the hook was just west of the MAF radar, and a TOR warning was up showing southeastern motion that would take the meso south of the city.

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My initial plan was to take the loop road west, come down around the west side of Midland and intercept the meso southwest of the city. As soon as I got on the loop road, I realized this was a terrible mistake. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper, as rush hour volume was headed toward a hail core. We bailed at the very next exit and went south through the city. Another terrible idea, as we hit every red light, and the last two lights (near and at I-20) before getting clear of the city were the worst. We sat through countless green/red cycles, nervous about lost time and an approaching hail core, before finally getting to the open road, able to move freely south on 349.

At this point we had already missed the initial tornados near the airport. The meso finally came into view as we drove south, and we went west on Farm Road 1787 to take a closer look. We stopped when it was immediately to our north and I was hoping it would produce again, but no such luck...

.

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We shifted east a bit as the base neared the road while becoming murkier underneath. It had nice barrel-shaped, layered structure and a prominent vault. Once the meso was on the south side of the road, we went the rest of the way back to 349.


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It was at this point that I made one of the stupidest decisions in recent years, worse than keeping to my KS target on May 23 instead of going after the storms in OK. Instead of continuing south on 349, I went east toward Midkiff. I don't know what I was thinking. Well, I know what I was thinking, but it made no sense. The storm was moving southeast, and I'm thinking I'm going to have to go south and east at some point, in some sequence... And I was worried about ending up behind the storm if it went southeast and I could only go south. I didn't think I would have another chance to go east if I didn't do it at that point. Yet some other part of my brain was thinking, I can always cut back west later, once I get south a bit. Well obviously those thoughts were contradictory - if there was a road option to cut back west later, then that means there was also a road option to go east. I guess I was worried about getting cut off on 349 before I could go east. There's no excuse, other than the general over-stimuli of everything. I should have thought it through more carefully, but I rushed the decision in the heat of battle. The next tornado occurred while we were well east of it, seeing good structure but nothing else. The updraft stayed west of 349 the entire day. And by the way 349 actually skews southeast a bit anyway. :(

We went back to 349 from Midkiff - you know, using the same road that we could have used later to go east if we ever actually needed to. The structure was great, and there was a ghost train leading into the meso, but when we got back to 349 we did not even bother going back north. At this point it appeared rain-wrapped and I figured I would settle for a structure show.

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As the storm weakened, the structure got even better, as the updraft constricted and the storm exhibited the best LP structure I have seen after several years of seemingly nothing but HPs.

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Although I will continue to beat myself up for the stupid and inexplicable failure of execution, I did enjoy the chase, particularly sharing it with my son because it was the best supercell structure he's had the opportunity to see in his young chasing career. Although I felt bad to lose a tornado for him, he didn't seem too worried about it (he has a much better temperament for chasing than me ;)). Many pictures I saw of the tornado were zoomed in; in the pictures that were zoomed out, the structure was still the main show in my eyes - who cares if the appendage between the base and the ground is missing in my shots? :p Sure, I would like to be able to say I "got" the tornado, and I hate screwing up, but at some point I've got to set my ego aside and appreciate what I was able to do and see - like my son does.
 
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