Pic of the Week 5/24/18
"Harold, TX Supercell"
Date taken: 5/19/18
Location: FM 1763 west of Harold, TX
After a few decent days of storm chasing this year it looks like the spring 2018 season is done for. While I barely chased this season, I have had some success with each chase. At the very least, I intercepted storms and came back with some nice images. No extraordinary storms or tornadoes this year, but there is always hope during the fall season. The storms I did shoot had some of the better structure I've seen in a while and those can make more interesting photographs. There are times, however, when the foreground is less interesting and devoid of any anchor points in the photo. While this is great for visibility, it makes finding a composition/subject a little more difficult. This is why photogenic storms can be helpful--as they become the subject. On this chase we got to a little late start. We weren't late per se, but the storms were just early. Regardless, I met up with Jaden at my apartment and we headed to areas west of Vernon, TX to intercept developing storms. While driving to our target I got a call from my good friend James Langford telling me about the exciting photographs/timelapses he was shooting on our storm encouraging me to get there ASAP! When we reached Vernon we shifted our direction of travel a little more to the southwest towards a line of developing storms near Crowell, TX. Along the way we could barely make out the shape of the distant rain-free base and the occasional glint of lightning. As we approached closer and closer we were greeted to a quite beautiful outlow dominant storm. We pulled over on a small side road just outside of Thalia, TX and watched the storm get closer.
As the storm advanced we could start to make out some of the structure and it appeared to have an embedded mesocyclone in all the mess. We watched as plumes of dust shot out infront of the downdraft and spin up into brief gustnadoes that twirled across the open farm land. Then shortly after the cool air came and it was time to reatreat and get back ahead of the storm. While driving trying to stay ahead of the encroaching outflow, we came across a large plume of dirt that covered the road. We slowed down and carefully drove through the small dust storm. The dirt was so thick at time we could barely make out the hood of truck. I estimated some 50mph wind gusts at this time and was later confirmed by radar and storm reports. After clearing all the dirt we had to make a strategic decision we could either head south on 283 or continue east on 287. The storm was to our southwest and looked like it might be turning right. My suggestion was to continue east on 287 and let the storm come to us. If we went south the storm would pass over the highway and we wouldn't have another east/west option until Seymour, TX which was about 30 miles away.
We opted for the east option and it actually really paid off. As we drove down 287 I watched the updraft behind us and looked for signs of storm intensification. Somewhere near Vernon a brief gustnado spun up near the highway and crossed just before we could reach it. I did manage to record some brief video, but nothing too impressive. We continued down 287 until we reached Harold, TX. The storm appeared to be growing and looked good on radar. Once we reached Harold, TX we turned on FM 1763 which took us to the southwest through some ranch land. We found a nice hill with a good turn off to pull over and watch the storm come to us.
Initially, the storm did not look much more like the storms we encountered earlier that afternoon, but as it approached we started to notice the base getting lower and more signs of rotation in the updraft. The storm was forming a mesocyclone. It was almost as if someone turned a switch on in the storm, the storm really began to ramp up and intensify. A large beaver tail inflow band was extending from the spinning updraft and low, rotating was cloud was looming over the distant horizon. We watched in excitement thinking the storm would put something down, but very quickly it lost the balance and became outflow dominant once again and we had to bail back east. The storm pretty much lost all organization after that and we let it pass in Wichita Falls. But before we called it, we met up with my good friends James Langford and Justin Terveen. It's been at least a couple of years since I've seen these guys and its always great to see friends on chases. Maybe I'll get to chase with them again in the fall.