TULIA TO QUANAH, TEXAS LONG-LIVED SUPERCELL
29 MAY 2001

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The images above, except for the Amarillo supercell in the distance, show the updraft region of the supercell when it was drawing 35-40 knot inflow winds sustained for fifteen minutes.  A few images below are of this same area.  At this time, it was the most well-defined and extreme interface I've ever seen, with a solid rain core beside a taut, rain-free base and wall cloud.  It was amazing to watch this region develop and change.  --AM
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29May2001_27.jpg (61724 bytes) 29May2001_28.jpg (57891 bytes) 29May2001_29.jpg (51037 bytes) The next six images show a brief spinup that appeared beneath a wall cloud.  Time was 7:54 PM.  Video review shows circulation  associated with the wall cloud, but not violent in any way, so I hesitate to call it a tornado.    -AM
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29May2001_34t.jpg (59498 bytes) 29May2001_36t.jpg (61591 bytes) The next image was taken after the storm had restrenghtened at night.  Time of the image is 9:16 PM. 29May2001_37.jpg (81750 bytes)

 

From:  "Amos Magliocco"
Date:  Wed May 30, 2001  6:07 am
Subject:  29 May 2001: West Texas Supercell-orama and maybe tornado(es)

I echo Roger Hill's comments on this amazing cyclic supercell.  I did a few
things tonight I normally avoid, like intentionally passing through the hail
shaft of a developing storm, and sliding back and forth on wet clay.

We chased this thing from west of Interstate 27 through Turkey, Texas and into
Quanah, over seven hours and hundreds of miles.  We core punched it very early
to get the best viewing angle when the storm crossed the highway and
strengthened dramatically.  Just prior, we'd looked at the supercell near AMA
long enough to convince ourselves that was the one to take.  Then the dime hail
began falling from our storm, and the updraft base lowered.  We'd already
started north, and punched west from Tulia for a favorable viewing area,
deciding that the storm was young enough to pass through safely.  We did, but
the shower of golf balls made us wonder how soon the stones would get much
bigger.

When we came out the other side somewhere west of Silverton, we were stunned by
the dramatic rain shaft and wide, black wall cloud rotating on the steely
updraft base.  Our inflow cranked as the storm wrapped up tight, and we stood
in sustained 35 knot inflow for around fifteen minutes.

Here we saw a cylindrical funnel that appeared to reach the ground from the
first meso.  I haven't reviewed the tape, and don't plan on doing so this
morning since I haven't gone to bed yet.  That funnel, another brief spinup,
and a lowering after dark near Quanah all may have been on the ground.  Until I
look at our tape, and coordinate times and locations with video and GPS logs, I
can't call any of them tornadoes with certainty.  With this storm, it didn't
matter.  We kept our eye on both the meso west, and the new one developing to
our east.  It was confusing for a few minutes, but constant dust showed us the
distinct inflow and outflow patterns under the first meso and wallcloud.  With
occlusion, this meso blew up an intense, black dust foot that could have been
mistaken for a tornado from another angle.

Near Quitaque, the storm took on an HP appearance, but with a defined meso
producing wall clouds of various sizes and shapes.  We watched south of town
while the sirens blew, and a ambulance drove past.  Looked to us as if the
community did a great job with their warning, and the severe-savvy residents
who happened to be mobile at the time knew to a person better than to drive
near that thing.  None even asked us if it *might* be okay, they just glanced
over once in a while as if they would have rather not seen us and a storm like
that at the same time.  Mainly they kept their eyes on the updraft base, and
watched the gust front expand east with the glow of a sun-swiped rain shaft.

We stopped for gas at a large convergence in Paducah, then realized the storm
demanded our attention once again.  We raced east on 70, amazed that we were
still chasing at 10:00 PM or so, and not headed home to Denton after a six day
chase trip.  The updraft remained a smoothly textured barber pole into the
night, with constant lightning glow off the deep striations and blocked wall
clouds underneath.  We listened to the excellent linked-repeater system around
CDS, sharp spotters with efficient net controllers and attentive nowcasting
from the Norman NWS, and followed that information with our own wide eyes north
up Highway 6, a perfect view of the updraft north, emerging onto 287 to find a
roadblock.

We were a little too clever for own good here.  Trying to circumvent the
roadblock, which a friend had reported was only due to trees and some minor
debris in the road, we drove north on a small road out of Quanah, then west on
a smaller, clay road that would eventually turn south back to 287.  I should
have stopped when we passed a pickup truck caught in the muck.  The clay was so
slippery the truck made almost no forward progress for the sliding, and,
despite having learned to drive in Fannin County, Texas, a place with more than
enough clay to go around, I slid off the teflon rink into the ditch.  I rocked
the truck back and forth a few times, took it back into the road, and rounded
the corner to drier ground, but with the strange feeling that the power lines
were out of place and seemed to be coming closer.  Highbeams showed the snapped
upper half of a utility pole fifty feet ahead of us in the road.

We called the Sheriff about the power pole, tried backing out (the corner was
treacherous with a deep puddle and gouged tire tracks), then turned the truck
around about two feet at a time, and drove with more respect for the surface
back the way we had come.  At the top of the rise, a driver for the power
company asked how to approach the road.  I should have told him 'with a
helicopter', but I suggested he come at it from 287, the section which had
seemed like a dry stretch before we saw the wires and had to stop.  That
episode ended our chase, and six days of chasing bliss.  I'm ready to go again
tomorrow.  Who needs sleep in the last week of May??

I would add one note: everyone seemed courteous on the road.  A few people
mistakenly stopped on a state highway just after a rise, making them impossible
to see until the last moment, but I'm sure they quickly realized their error.
Also thanks to Phillip Flory for the excellent radar analysis , and Steve
Miller for the nowcasting before he left his house to chase. 

Amos Magliocco

Amos Magliocco's Storm Chasing Page