15 MAY 2003: STRATFORD, TEXAS AREA TORNADOES

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Steve Miller and I intercepted three tornadoes on May 15, 2003 with a storm that moved from north of Dalhart, Texas northeast through Dallam County in the extreme North Texas Panhandle. Due west of Mallet about seven miles, the large mesocyclone produced a multi-vortex wedge tornado and a long, elephant trunk satellite tornado simultaneously. Later, northwest of Texhoma in the Oklahoma panhandle, we observed a small white rope tornado.

This was a day where I nearly made the same mistake as so many times before, ignoring a lifting warm front and / or the proximity of the vort max.   Luckily, this day, Steve and I helped convince each other about where we should go, and we raced north to this storm, catching it in time to witness the tornadoes.

Steve and I used a wet clay road (visible in the images) and when the elephant trunk lifted, the parent circulation moved toward our position, forcing a decision about moving forward or backwards.  The images below that show only the wedge were taken while I had the camera in one hand and my eyes on the old circulation approaching us from the southwest.

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Texas Twins

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Elephant trunk on the ground at 5:50 PM
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Former elephant trunk approaches our position...
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but this is more interesting
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There was much debate about the nature of one of these sister tornadoes, whether or not it was cyclonic or anti-cyclonic.  Steve conducted an exhaustive study, and I have nothing to add to his excellent report linked here.  By the way, Steve's page there has one of the coolest stormchasing pictures I've ever seen, with all our gear and gizmos in the foreground, and two tornadoes on the ground at the same time out the window.  It is the image for contemporary stormchasing.

Scott Eubanks and John Poch also chased with us. Huge thanks to Phillip Flory for excellent nowcasting.

Here's a clip of the twins with Steve and I sounding like two guys from Texas, which we are:

3 meg video clip of Tornadoes Touchdown

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cap33thumb.jpg (3629 bytes) cap34drivingthumb.jpg (3088 bytes) My blog post from 9:37 AM that morning:

"Caprock Magic Show Later Today
Lubbock, Texas--Watching a very powerful mid-level impulse churn towards the Texas panhandle right now where a juiced boundary layer awaits. I have no doubt that some storms will have tornadoes; the question is whether or not we'll see them or be on the right storm. We're gonna try. Our target at the moment is from Dimmit to Hereford, Texas, eding north along with the front. We expect long-lived supercells to travel east or just north of due east, so we could chase them right along the I-40 corridor into Oklahoma later today. We'll see"
Amos Magliocco's Storm Page