Thursday 31 May 2018

Day 4 - Texas Panhandle

WED 30 MAY 2018

We headed west from our hotel in Woodward (OK) to Boise City (OK), via lunch at Guymon (OK). Storms were beginning to fire over the high ground in Colorado and New Mexico, slowly drifting east towards us. We waited a bit, then nudged south to Felt (OK) to watch developments.
SPC Forecast
SPC Tornado Probability Forecast
Our location (blue circle) near Felt, watching a line of storms approaching from the west
We had good views of the bases of 3 separate thunderstorms, the southern two eventually became severe-warned. The storms began to form a line, rather than anything discrete, and we tracked them for several hours eastwards as they continued to intensify, favouring the southern cell as it had both the best look on radar but also theoretically the best availability to warm, moist air to feed on as there were no other cells south of it to compete with.
Multiple rotating updrafts were visible near Conlen (TX)
As the storm was near Stratford (TX), it developed some notably low cloud bases, but this soon lifted leaving some stunning structure which you'd need to be many miles away to be able to capture it in one shot (rather than underneath it as we were). This storm had reportedly tipped over a semi lorry and snapped some power poles due to the strong winds on the rear side of the mesocyclone, while producing some very large hail too.
Lowering cloud base looking north from east of Stratford (TX)

Greenage! Usually an indication of large hail
Big storm following us southeastwards
iPhone pano looking north to the east of Spearman (TX), once I'd managed to get rid of mosquitoes having a feeding frenzy!
We'd now booked a hotel in Woodward for the night once again, but then had an issue trying to keep ahead of the storm due to the road network. I'd managed to work out if we could get to Hollis (OK) before the storm we should be able to reach our hotel before the storm ploughed through town - however, it was going to be an incredibly close call as to whether we'd be able to beat the storm, and as we approached the outskirts of Hollis we had to park up and let it pass in front of us to avoid our vehicle getting wrecked from large hail.
Our position (blue circle) relative to the hail core, which was moving ESE-wards
Once it had passed we then tried to find some hail in Hollis - there were a few tree branches down in the road, and quite a bit of leaf shredding from hail impacting trees, but the largest hail we could find in a quick search through the grassy verge as it poured with rain was 1.16 inches in diameter (nearly 3cm). We finally made it to Woodward after midnight, very tired, and arrived at our hotel a few minutes before a new thunderstorm rolled in.
GPS tracker

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