Saturday, June 02, 2007

Day 7 June 1, 2007

Today marks the halfway point of our trip. As we were going through Liberal, Kansas to get ready to depart south, we happened to spot the Tornado Intercept Vehicle and a couple of Project ROTATE vehicles parked at a motel. We decided to have a closer look at this interesting piece of metal on wheels. Let's just say that I would never be caught dead riding in that thing... but I do give credit to the guy who drove this TIV all the way from California!

We were to head south into the Texas panhandle today, just south of Lubbock, possibly on the New Mexico state line. There was a large tornado risk area for today according to the SPC. I never did get a chance to download models last night to see what was cooking for today because we pulled in late and I was pretty tired, but Ron was going to download anyways.

While on the way down, we saw numerous fields flooded out by a previous storm system that went through several days ago. A lot of rain must have fallen here because the puddles were still pretty big and almost look like small lakes. When we got closer to Amarillo, we saw two small storms, one to the west and another to the southeast. Mammatus could be seen under the anvil of the western storm, while an interesting inflow band on the southeastern storm grew fatter and eventually attached itself to the base of the storm. Since I was riding with Sandra in Ron's car, I decided to check the Baron to see what was cooking. These appeared to be small supercells with no rotation couplets. When we arrived in Amarillo, we went to eat a buffet lunch at a place called Furr's. For under eight bucks you definitely cannot go wrong. The food was delicious.

We swapped seats once again and continued our trek south of Amarillo towards Lubbock. We took highway 114 just east of Lubbock. The storm that was to our southeast now had 4 rotation couplets on it according to the Baron and that it was moving 20 mph southeast. Ron said. A tornado warning had been issued. We were going to intercept it because this was all that was available at this time. As we got closer, we saw a nice hail shaft and hailbow. The hail shaft actually had quite a foot on it, indicating the strong outflow winds. From this vantage point, it looked like there was low level moisture being fed into the storm updrafts. We headed towards Abilene, and went through a rain/hail core that had poor visibility. In Aspermont, we gased up and had a quick restroom break, then continued on highway 283.

By this point, the storm didn't look very good at all... there was a lot of outflow from the hail core, and that was cutting off the much needed inflow to this storm. The bases had clear breaks in them. Crap. At one point, after heckling this "great big storm of Texas", scud tried to gather and form a wall cloud. I saw a brief skinny pointy funnel cloud come out of it, but that was all that it amounted to. We pulled off the highway to take some pictures. It looked like a small shelf cloud was pushing its way through over us, and off in the distance to the south I was watching a pretty good piece of scud rise up and attach itself to the base of the storm. It then started to rain, and we continued on highway 277.

At around 7:30 pm we punched the core of the storm... it wasn't a real threat since the biggest hail was past us. Flash flood warnings had been issued. I could see why... the area was already saturated and there was decent ponding on the roadways. On the way north, we stopped two times for mammatus pictures shortly after 8 pm. On the way into Wichita Falls, we were treated to a cool lightning display. We had a nice steak dinner and are staying at a Best Western in Wichita Falls.

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