APRIL 20, 2002: PLAINVIEW, TEXAS DUST-WHIRL-NADO

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Non-storm convective tower

From: Amos Magliocco
To: Wx-Chase
Cc: Storm-Chase
Sent: Monday, April 22, 2002 1:27 AM
Subject: 4/20/2002 West Texas funnel

Steve Miller, Jeff Lawson, and I observed a funnel-associated dust whirl south of Plainview as Sam mentioned, and I know that sounds like a lot of work to avoid saying tornado. I'm desperate to avoid another round of the "what is a tornado" debate, but I'll say that, while this funnel clearly caused the dust whirl at the ground and maintained shape and rotation as it moved, it was certainly not violent, associated with a wallcloud of any sort, or preceded by any mesocyclonic activity that we could discern. In fact, the convective area above this phenomena could hardly be described as a proper storm.

It doesn't fit any labels neatly: not a real gustnado because it wasn't on a gust front--it was under a ragged, disorganized rain free base; can't call it a landspout for all the reasons we're too familiar with, and tornado seems like a stretch because it wasn't a "violently rotating column of air." It was more of a peacefully photogenic column of air in contact with the ground. Haha.

I shot a few seconds of good video, thanks to Steve Miller's eyesight, and I'll post video captures soon if we can get more than two days off in a row from Texas chasing.

Sam gave us a great tip on the radio about towers south of Hale Center, too, when we were caught in the murky soup of the warm front, information which eventually helped us to see whatever it was we saw. Thanks also to Dwain Warner, Brian Fant, and Jeff Gammons for nowcasting.

Amos Magliocco
Denton, Texas

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