Monday 22 May 2017

Day 9 - New Mexico

A Slight risk of severe thunderstorms was forecast for today by the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) with a 2% chance of a tornado within a 25mile radius - might sound low, but when you're constantly moving from storm to storm naturally your odds will be higher than if you sat in 1 location all day long expecting one to come to you. That said, given the low dew points it seemed unlikely to happen given the high cloud bases expected.

We headed south from Amarillo (TX) to lunch in Lubbock (TX) before moving west across the border into New Mexico (our 3rd state of the trip) and into a different timezone - Mountain Time, which is 1 hour behind Central Time, or alternatively 7 hours behind UK time rather than the 6 hours we'd become accustomed too thus far.

By this stage a few thunderstorms had developed over the higher terrain of New Mexico, but as they moved southeastwards over the high plains they were struggling to maintain intensity due to limited moisture and marginal upper support. We parked up north of Dora (NM) to watch a few of these storms attempt to become supercells but fail, but eventually things started to look more promising and a couple of severe-warned storms (1 inch hail and 60mph winds) were born and began to head in our general direction.

We headed west to refuel at Elida (NM), with the first of such storms practically overhead by this stage. We followed it south, the storm following us, but ran out of paved roads - and had no option but to drive for a good 17 miles east on dirt roads, which meant the storm caught us up and we ended up right underneath it. Some small (marble sized) hail and heavy rain made the drive a little more interesting, but the storm was weakening and essentially dissipated within 30mins or so.

Low-precipitation supercell thunderstorm over a gas station in Elida (NM)
Spying another couple of severe-warned storms to our northwest, we decided to head further west towards Caprock (NM), and chose a south road to park up and watch these 2 storms - the westernmost one had a nice looking base, and on radar at least a decent couplet. This storm became tornado warned, but given a good view of the rather high base it was clear nothing much was going to happen, and sadly it didn't produce. In fact within 45 minutes the storm had also completely disintegrated.

iPhone pano of the 2 severe warned thunderstorms approaching Caprock (NM)

Low updraft base of a low-precipitation supercell thunderstorm west of Caprock (NM)
The updraft 30 minutes later - practically disintegrated!
As the sun set we were treated to a rather nice orange-lit mammatus display from the decaying anvils, before heading to Hobbs (NM) for dinner and our hotel for the night.

Our GPS location (blue circle) in relation to the severe-warned (yellow polygon) thunderstorm to our NW, with tornado warning (red polygon)

No comments:

Post a Comment