HAPPY, TEXAS WEDGE & WAYSIDE, TEXAS TORNADO
5 MAY 2002
PAGE ONE
All Images Copyright 2001 Amos Magliocco All Rights Reserved

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Jeff Lawson and I filmed the tornado from south-central Happy with an unobstructed view of the wedge. This large and violent tornado wrapped up forcefully and drew gusting inflow as it crawled due west toward our location.

We closed on this storm after having waffled between playing the warm front and dryline all day.  We drove from Abilene to Childress in the morning hoping the front would keep us from having to brave the drier air in the Central Texas Panhandle and the recently-fickle and unproductive dryline.

We fell in with a convoy of Al Moller, Scott Eubanks, and Sam Barricklow and his wife.   Following 287 toward Amarillo, we turned west at Claude to intercept what at the time was a storm near Canyon.  After some manuevering and keen insight from our seasoned convoy-mates, we found ourselves on the south side of Happy, Texas.

Taping from within one-half to one-quarter mile of the wedge, this is obviously the best video of my life, but the experience is dampened by the news of fatalities, particularly when the storm was surrounded by chasers and spotters and the sirens blew within moments of the first, large dust sweepings at the ground.

After the wedge we fled the town and repositioned to the east in time to witness the small and unremarkable Wayside tornado over an open field.

On our way home, we witnessed a disturbing damage track along 285 with many overturned semi trucks and dozens of snapped utility poles that strung power lines back and forth across the road. From what we could tell by watching some chasers drive and even walk over these downed power lines, they were no longer live. We allowed others the opportunity to verify this before we crossed. The 10cm mobile radar from UMass was caught in a web of these fallen cables, but everyone appeared unharmed as we passed their location. This damage track, from either a tornado or devastating straight line winds, extended for over twenty miles on either side of Lakeview, Texas

Quite a weekend for us and others in West Texas: three, possibly four tornadoes, massive hail, and a chance to chase with some old friends and some veteran chasers who demonstrated that experience is gold in this business.

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6: 43 PM
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6:43 PM: we think
this wallcloud became the Happy stovepipe which went through town
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Several minutes later, the miniature Wayside, Texas tornado

 

 

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