Friday 23 May 2014

2014 Chase Day 11 - Carlsbad (NM) to Hobbs (NM)


Today was initially more of a position day for the weekend as the risk of severe weather had now shifted into the southern Plains of New Mexico and Texas. We drove south for 4 hours from our starting location in Rotan (NM) with an initial destination of Roswell (NM). En-route some decent convection was developing over the mountains to our west, but we carried on further south where instability was forecast to be better.

A few storms had fired off over the mountains to the southwest of Roswell (NM), so after a quick fuel stop we drifted west into Hope (NM) and sat for a while. Unfortunately these storms were just pulse-type and were dying fairly quickly. There were some other storms near the border of Texas and New Mexico around Eunice (NM), so we drifted back east and then south to Carlsbad (NM). It was at this point we were beginning to feel like it would be a bit of a bust day, so we had a search for some hotels online and booked a room in Hobbs (NM) knowing that with it being Memorial Weekend hotels would be busier and more expensive than usual.

A long-lasting storm was now approaching from south of the Texas border, with a trajectory just west of Carlsbad (NM). With not much else to play with at the time, we thought we'd park up in it's path and let it come over us. Thus we drove a short distance southwest to get into it's path in about 40 minutes time or so, when it suddenly became tornado warned! According to Spotter Network we were one of the only two spotters near this storm, so naturally we became rather excited. We parked up and let the storm slide northwards to our east, keeping a close eye on the base near the updraft for any possible rotation.

New updraft towers were rapidly growing all around us, while 2 new supercells were approaching from the west, and within 30-45mins or so all the cells had merged into one large MCS, producing very large hail in places. Thankfully we were positioned just west of the complex to avoid any severe weather, but as the storms merged and drifted northeast over Carlsbad (NM) they produced a lot of rain and surface flooding, accompanied by frequent lightning and probably some hail.

Our hotel was booked in Hobbs (NM) which was unfortunately the other side of this now line of storms, thus we had to effectively follow these storms all the way to Hobbs (NM). They were only moving at 30-40mph, so we parked up a couple of times to try and get some lightning shots as darkness fell, although annoyingly a broad area of precipitation on the back-edge of the storm meant that the majority of lightning was just flashes within the cloud rather than actual visible strokes.

Woke up several times overnight as multiple rounds of thunderstorms moved through the area, they appear to have been more severe to the west of us with Roswell (NM) recording the highest amount of rainfall to fall in a 24 hour period on record, at 111.5mm. Previous record was 110.2mm back in 1991.

STORM CHASE 2014 STATS thus far
McDonald's tally: 14
States visited: 9
Distance driven: 4,189 miles

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