Tornado near Stamford, TX 3.28.17! - Oklahoma Skies

Posted on April 1, 2017 at 8:54PM CDT

The blog is back for another season! Happy new year! It only took four months into the new year for me to say that. It seems these blogs are becoming more elusive with time. It's not my fault I live a busy and fast paced lifestyle! I need more time to write these things. 

I digress. 

It seems that storm season is off to a rip roaring start with a busy week for severe weather wrapping up. I chased last Sunday down in south central Oklahoma where me and my good friend and chase partner Tim Eckstein lived under the meso all afternoon. Literally. We witnessed several impressive wall clouds and chased the storm east of I-35 from Pauls Valley. Eventually we gave up on the storm as daylight was beginning to wane and the terrain the farther east and southeast of the interstate you go, the worse it is. Of course we turn around only to miss the brief tornado near Ada about thirty minutes later. Typical. 

Tuesday saw sweet redemption as me and my other good buddy and chase partner Kevin Connor took a trip to west central Texas. A moderate risk had been issued and forecasters were confident in a multi faceted severe weather event for the region. They weren't wrong either. A broken line of supercells fired off in the Texas Panhandle/west Texas early in the afternoon and marched east throughout the day. There were several brief tornadoes reported with this activity. On the way there I keenly watched radar trends and became interested in a renegade storm that had developed southwest of Abilene. We were still a good hour away and Kevin was more interested in trying to intercept new storms developing to the north of that one. We played around with a cell that quickly developed near Hamlin, TX. The storm looked briefly impressive and had a tornado warning on it, only to become overwhelmed by convection developing around it and was soon choked off. We quickly departed that one for the more impressive Abilene storm and made our play to intercept it as it crossed I-20 to the north. 

After losing data/cell service a good chunk of the time and maneuvering a sketchy road network, we finally get into position as the area of rotation passed Hawley and continued north towards Avoca. We blast north and catch the storm just in time as a wall cloud rapidly organized and a stout stovepipe tornado touched down. 

A tornado briefly touches down near Stamford, TX 3.28.17. This was one of several tornadoes this supercell put down during its lifespan.

The tornado lasted about a couple minutes before lifting. Those two minutes made the entire trip worth it. That's how storm chasing is. You travel hundreds of miles for a few minutes( sometimes only a few seconds at that) of action. A lot of the time we come back empty handed. It's why you learn to appreciate more than just the tornado itself. People ask me all the time why I'm crazy enough to drive the kind of miles, spend the kind of money, and put myself in danger. I can't get enough of meteorology in action. It's one thing to be behind the scenes, it's a completely different one to actually be in it. I love storms and tornadoes. I don't like the destruction they can cause, but I appreciate their power and beauty. I'll never tire of it.

The above shot unfortunately was handheld and mostly used default settings. Everything happened so fast. Lots of post processing, so it's a little grainy. This is only noticeable to a picky photographer like me. 

Three storm chasers unfortunately lost their lives Tuesday as well. I debated on talking about it because the storm chasing community is blowing up over it. I've seen all kinds of crazy posts. The wreck wasn't directly weather related, but rather the result of people not paying attention/following simple traffic laws. Completely senseless and preventable. It almost makes me angry. Two contractors from The Weather Channel(which continues to get a bad rep) collided head on with another guy chasing the storms. How? Well the two guys chasing for TWC ran a stop sign . I don't understand this continued recklessness from storm chasers and some of these companies that 'own' them.  Guess what? The laws still apply to you whether or not you are chasing! No storm or tornado is worth your life. Be safe and follow the law. We all make stupid decisions sometimes but we need to be aware of others and stay out of trouble. It's also why I tend to distance myself from other chasers. The cliques, drama, and recklessness of others give storm chasing as a whole a bad name. I tend to follow my own path just because I don't care to be involved. So far so good. 

Looking ahead, not much to get excited about in terms of storm chasing opportunities. Tomorrow looks big over east central/southeast Texas and Louisiana but that's out of the cards for me. Tuesday has some potential close to home but models differ on placement/timing of trough and quality of moisture return. In the even longer range, it appears that an active pattern will continue but the models are all over the place with details. Just for kicks and giggles, the 18z GFS had a snowstorm for the southern plains about two weeks from now. No thank you!

Until next time. 

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