Cyclone Road

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Shutting it Down

I'm spending a few more days with friends in the DFW area before heading back to Indiana for the rest of the summer. Right now I'm in Cleburne, at a public library which blocks access to newsgroups, so I'm unable to keep up with much of the lament of my chaser pals. But I can hear their cries in the ether--haha. Yes, the season ended as violently and abruptly as it began, strangely enough, and stranded many chasers who have only arrived for their yearly vacations in the last few days. My last check of medium range models shows very little hope for the next several days. For me, it's a signal that the time for fun is over. I expect to see a few more people tomorrow afternoon and evening, then begin the push for Bloomington on Thursday, perhaps.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Images from past days

I'm taking a few down days to catch up on errands. This could be the end the road for me, as well, considering the grim prospects shown by the medium range models. If so, I'm enthusiastic about the way the season went, easily my best ever. If it ends today, I will have logged over 10,000 miles chasing on 16 of 22 days, observing approximately 18 supercells and 7 tornadoes.

I'm posting additional images from May 22, when we observed some amazing sheared, mini-meso cumulus clouds. No, that's not a precise scientific term for this phenomenon, but close enough. Basically, there's enough low level shear to spin and sculpt these bases, but not enough instability to keep the updrafts vertical against the upper level shear. The result, at least on this day, is a perfect balance of continuous updrafts in a horizontal direction! Quite a strange sight. Jeff Gammons has great time lapse of this on his Weathervine site. The images for the 22nd are not clickable. I'll load the full images later when I have more time and better bandwidth. The images at the bottom of this post for the 23rd, however, are thumbnails.

Then the pictures from the marathon chase of May 23, when I drove from Goodland, Kansas to Hays at 5:00 AM, waited while the Toyota mechanics searched for the cause of the metallic screech from my differential, then raced back to Colorado and down along the Rocky Mountains to catch these sweet LP storms along the Front Range, followed by the most violent lightning storm I've experienced in some time. Short quick bursts of lightning all around me, so bright I had to blink several times to clear my vision after a strike would land in front of me. I have video captures of some of those sparks which I'll post when I return to Indiana. Meanwhile, here's the daytime digital stills from the storms, which I had all to myself, I should mention.

(click for full image)

(click for full image)

Finally, one more great image from the 24th, this shot at night near Claude as the storms were forming a fantastic, sculpted gust front:

Dynamic May Morphology

Steve Miller admires tall LP near Mobeetie

More from the same cell

Gustnado near Hoover

Nighttime Striations

Amarillo, Texas--Steve Miller and I chased isolated LP storms in the Eastern Texas Panhandle today, one of which morphed from a small, compact LP north of Mobeetie in Wheeler County into a classic supercell with a large rain core near Hoover, where we witnessed a large and impressive gustnado (see picture). This feature might have been reported as a tornado though several impressive wall clouds associated with constantly westward-developing mesos certainly could have touched down briefly. In Pampa, what had become a line segment with strong inflow on the eastern and western flanks shrunk into a more classic supercell with a small hook and mesocyclone, dropping baseball hail on State Road 70 just south of the city. We perched beneath a gas station awning, looking for a way to escape back into a favorable viewing position. As the storm moved southwest, we skirted the hail core by driving south on 70 as the storm cleared the road.

We headed west on Interstate 40 toward Amarillo and then south to Goodnight where we shot the laminar banded gustfront, polished and sculpted something like the May 27, 2001 derecho in Southern Kansas. Considering the small distance we traveled, we’re amazed to realize we chased more than five hours from 4:15 PM CST to past 9:30. Tonight, we’re holed up in the Amarillo Super 8 looking at Southeast New Mexico tomorrow, or wherever the boundary finally stops for the night. Weathervine crew and Scott Eubanks also chased with us.

Yesterday, we caught a photogenic LP near Colorado Springs, Colorado, then moved south to chase the supercell backed against Cheyenne Mountain. South of Pueblo, Steve Miller, who was riding with Weathervine at the time since I was coming back from the mechanic's, saw a land spout southwest of Fowler while I was only miles behind navigating through the town itself. Still, I took several great photos from east of Colorado Springs and Pueblo and enjoyed the great high terrain of the Colorado Front Range.