Pic of the Week: 5/12/17
Location: Crowell, TX
Date taken: 5/10/17
Here we are in the second week of May and I have been sitting by patiently waiting for my first successful chase of 2017. There have been some nice (unfortunately fatal) tornadoes within a day’s drive, but I was either working or had other responsibilities. I kept saying to myself “Not to worry, it’s just March, it’s just April.” But once it came down to May I was starting to feel concerned. I have not had a successful storm chase all season long which can leave you with a real sour stomach. But on Wednesday this week I got to chase my first real storm of the year and not only that we successfully intercepted a brief tornado. Sadly, I was driving at the time and could not take photos as the tornado was very brief. Still it was great to just get to go out on the chase and actually pull out the camera!
Our chase started around 5pm where I left from Metro Photo and headed towards storms that were developing near Paducah, TX. My good friend Tyler drove up from Prosper, TX to chase this day so expectations were high. We drive west on 287 reaching Vernon and dropping south and west on Highway 70 to Crowell, TX. When we reached Crowell, we turned back to the north on highway 6 to be position of the storm. About 5 miles on highway 6 we pulled over at a historical marker and we had a nice view of our developing supercell. We could see the updraft tower surging into the blue sky above and a low blocky lowering in the storms base. This did not look like it was rotating at this time, but it did show promise. We crept closer and closer to the storm until it stated to cross Highway 6. I knew this could be a problem on this road. There are no east options that would keep us in position of the storm until we reached Quanah, TX and highway 287. The problem with this road is that it would put us behind the storm and not in front of it.
As our storm crossed Highway 6 we noticed it starting to intensify. The returns on radar grew larger, the storms wall cloud started getting lower and larger and was showing signs of rotation we pulled over and watch it pass the highway right in front of us. At one point the storm’s rear flank downdraft came around the updraft base tightening up the wall cloud and increasing the rotation. The RFD carved a nice shape to the wall cloud and updraft base which I found to be very photogenic above the empty two lane highway. I walked out to the middle of the road (checking the traffic first) and dropped to a knee to get this shot. It’s a very classic “storm chase” photo. In fact, I have a few in some of my other galleries. But still it was great being under the updraft of a picturesque storm once again and getting to storm chase.
We would continue following this storm into southern Oklahoma until evening time. While trying to get into position on the storm a tornadic circulation spun up directly to our west just .3 miles away! I slammed on the breaks and pulled off the road pointing and shouting to Tyler “TORNADO! TORNADO ON THE GROUND!” Not a few seconds after that I pulled out my camera to record a video of the brief spin up. But the RFD quickly caught up to it and we were blindsided by rain and wind. I confirmed with other chasers and storm reports that we did in fact see a tornadic circulation under a rotating base. There was no real visible funnel which is why it took by surprise. It was a great chase and it felt nice to get another tornado under my belt, even if it was short-lived one. Next week is looking to be an active weather pattern so I hope to have more storm photos to share with y’all!