After overnighting in Hobbs we were smack bang in the middle of the target area for storm initiation, so a nice late start before wheels up. While prepping the cars for the day a slightly more unusual sight, a horse parking up at a gas station….
About 10 miles out of town a storm exploded directly over our heads, the first bolt of shotgun lightning woke us all up and was a great start to the day.
This cell which was rapidly becoming supercellular was moving east, so the only way to chase today was to carry on moving east to stay just infront of the storm. Multiple funnel clouds were descending from the cloud base. The storm transitioned from classic to HP throwing out a large gust front with a stunning green core at its centre.
As this was the only storm in the contiguous US and with only two roads to chase on we were about to experience some extreme chaser convergence, which I can only compare to a chaser version of whacky races with chasers from all over the world in an array of different cars struggling for the best spots to pull over.
A second cell suddenly developed below the one pictured above and began to steal it’s energy source. We dropped down onto that storm along with every other chaser in North America, it had some nice structure and was happy just floating about over the open fields of West Texas.
The storm rapidly became Tornadic, the picture above shows a funnel with broad circulation, I managed to get some footage before we needed to drop south and east to stay in front of the hooking base of the storm. The storm produced a Tornado that latest for around two minutes, it wrapped itself in rain and scud pretty quickly but I was able to capture the debris cloud swirling on the ground.
We continued to push east, a new cell behind our tornado producer dropped a lovely rope Tornado about 20 miles away, one of the guests managed to capture it in the distance. A subsequent supercell formed behind us with an incredible stacked plate updraught structure, the scale of this had to be seen to be believed and the picture really does not do it justice.
We headed west behind this storm to see what we could see but the hail being dropped was far too large to be playing those who risked it ended up totalling their cars. We headed back west after the storm has passed over the road to get some lightning shots but this was short lived as the developing MCS had accelerated and was now chasing us into San Angelo. The Tornado sirens blaring, we jumped out of the cars at our motel and let the storm pass over us, with large hail crashing down and VERY close lightning strikes landing all around. After this bombardment we headed out to dinner, but I could not sit inside when the backside of the storms were lightning up the sky.
After dinner we could not resist heading east into the darkness to enjoy the show as it drifted away, it was very much worth the late night trip.
What a great chase day from start to finish with 14 hours of continuous stormage and some great driving experience acquired for myself!