The southern Great Plains chase season is rapidly dwindling as the ridge builds in. But, we managed to squeak in at least one more chase in the Texas panhandle this past weekend. We brought along Michael H., who just recently joined CAPS. He had never photographed a supercell before, and we thought it likely that we could help him achieve this modest goal for the day.We were initially attracted to extreme SE CO because of high-resolution model solutions indicating the potential for supercells there. However, we also noticed that those same model solutions indicated that the supercells would grow upscale into an MCS within a few hours. We departed Norman around 11 a.m., reaching the panhandle just after 2 p.m. A cluster of “junk-vection” had developed in the area just south of Woodward, while supercells had indeed begun to pop up in eastern CO – more than three hours away, and very out of play. We gritted our teeth and held up near Logans Corner, OK, where we watched a multi-cell cluster pulse and produce photogenic precipitation shafts, but never quite got its act together. We followed it as far as Buffalo, OK before giving up.
We were a bit disheartened, but took some hope from the fact that it was only 4 p.m. and we had more than five hours of storm environment evolution with which to work. The OK Mesonet indicated that the richer surface moisture hadn’t quite arrived in the Oklahoma panhandle yet. We returned to Logans Corner, OK, where we met up with fellow NWCers Michael C. and Jim C. By then, convection was firing up in discrete, widely-spaced cells stretching from E CO all the way back to central OK. A cell near Spearman, TX caught our attention when it began showing signs of rotation, so we dropped south to Darrouzett, TX. Along with other NWCers (Kiel O. and his entourage), a nicely sculpted LP supercell was there to greet us:
After the wall cloud passed by to our north, it quickly filled in with rain. At the same time, a new cell came up to our south, and the two quickly merged as we tried to follow the hook east. We soon found ourselves deep in the murk, blasted by horizontal rain directed variously out of the northwest, north, and northeast. Suspecting a circulation might be forming right in front of us, and lacking radar data, we decided to pull our vehicles over, put the hazards on, and wait until better structure presented itself.After several minutes, we dropped south out of Follett, initially intending to follow the original target storm (by then near Catesby, OK) along a more southern route. However, in the meantime, a new, classic supercell to our west presented a photography opportunity. We decided to pull over on a dirt road about 12 mi. S of Follett, and shoot this storm at sunset. It produced a beautiful wall cloud with double-tiered structure. We chose, once again, to sit back and enjoy, shooting plenty of video and stills as it passed by us to the north.
We called the chase off at dusk. On the way back, at a Seiling gas station, we happened to encounter Mr. Michael Fish (British TV superstar weatherman) leading a group of chase tourists back to I-35. (I had met Mr. Fish before, taking a previous group on a tour of the NWC.) They were on their last day of a two-week chase trip, and happily reported that they had witnessed a tornado near Beaver, OK earlier in the evening. What a nice way to cap off a tour! I congratulated them, and wished them a safe flight back to the U.K.
Video highlights of the day: