Saturday 24 May 2014

2014 Chase Day 12 - Fort Stockton (TX) to Sanderson (TX) and back

I find every day myself questioning our decisions and whether we could've chosen a different, better storm to follow etc. Today was no different, and for quite a prolonged period of time we had no internet   which meant no fresh data on what the storms we were chasing were doing, or if any better storms had developed elsewhere. But most days it seems, despite the questioning of your decisions, in the end you tend to still do fairly well - just go with your instincts etc.

Starting in Hobbs (NM) we travelled quite a distance south into Texas - the majority of today's action was progged to be on a rapidly southward-moving outflow boundary associated with the previous night's convection. Some models also simulated another round of storms over New Mexico during the evening, so we were torn between waiting for the majority of the day to see if anything fired up over New Mexico, or race southwards to try and get on the other side of the outflow boundary and try our luck with an environment more favourable for tornadoes.

We had a quick lunch stop in Monohans (TX) - McDonald's of course - and then made the decision to try and get to the south side of the outflow boundary/cold front. It took some time since the front was also moving southwards away from us, but between Fort Stockton (TX) and Sanderson (TX) we managed to break through to the other side, having driven through some heavy rain and small hail from a developing storm. Cloud bases were very low over the multiple hills that make up the Hill Country, with plenty of rotation going on and a couple of attempts at forming a wall cloud.

We took a road northeast part-way towards Sheffield before stopping and reassessing. Parking up for a while, the storm was getting closer, and while it probably stayed just to our north, it was also backbuilding and we ran the risk of getting hit by hail/rain from these storms instead. Without any fresh data for an hour or so, we blindly drove further south into Sanderson (TX) where we briefly received some internet signal - a quick refresh of the radar and it was one messy line of severe thunderstorms, the one we were nearest also tornado warned!
North of Sanderson (TX)
North of Sanderson (TX)
North of Sanderson (TX)
We drove west towards Marathon (TX) to (a) try and get a better view of the storms given the fact there are hills everywhere! and (b) to try and get around the western edge of this line such that we could head back north again should anything more discrete develop over New Mexico. Given the mess, we continued to head north and booked into a hotel in Fort Stockton (TX), but given it was still quite early in the evening (20:30 CDT) I refused to quit so early, thus we parked up outside Fort Stockton (TX) and tried to shoot some lightning from these storms that were to our southwest. Looking back through the set they make a pretty cool timelapse, so putting all 530 photos together (contains flashing images, naturally):

One of the lightning shots, taken from Fort Stockton (TX)

STORM CHASE 2014 STATS thus far
McDonald's tally: 15
States visited: 9
Distance driven: 4,560 miles

No comments:

Post a Comment