Storm Chase 2001: May 26

May 26: LP Storm near Matador, Texas with CG's and mammatus

After spending the night in Abilene, Texas, I reviewed data for the chase. The target area was only about a hundred miles to the north. I drove north on 277 to Haskell hoping to check more data at a library internet connection. Unfortunately, their library was closed. I had a quick lunch and ran into Dan Weintraub, a storm chaser who also teaches and coaches soccer. We chatted for a few minutes before I headed west to Aspermont. There were some scattered cumulus to the west. Again, no open library. While getting as and supplies at an Allsups, I ran into Cloud 9 Tours with Charles Edwards and Jim Leonard (1V). Jim allowed me to look at some of his weather data from a cellphone modem and dispensed some advice from his many years of chase experience. Chris Kridler and Dave Lewison soon arrived at the gas station, and we spent about an hour watching the sky and checking more data. Chris, Dave and myself first started chasing with Cloud 9 Tours in 1997 before chasing on our own and it was nice to see those guys. Besides a detailed knowledge of the weather, Charles and Jim chase responsibly and safely and attract many for their storm chase tours.

There were reports of towers forming to the west and Chris, Dave and myself headed toward Jayton and Spur via state roads 380 and 70. By 5PM, a storm was visible to the northwest. We intercepted the forming low-precipitation supercell (LP) just south of Matador. The storm (2P) was high-based but we hoped it would move into an area of better moisture and strengthen. We found a picturesque place near a farmhouse to watch the storm. Cloud 9 (3V) and some other chasers joined us. We watched the storm wax and wane in intensity but it just didn't organize enough to form a tornado. The storm was moving slowly and I (4V) was able to leisurely photograph it. Other storms were forming in the area including a distant and possibly tornadic one (5V) near Lubbock. Our group left, forming a long chaser caravan heading south on 70. There were chasers parked along the road, and I am still amazed at the number of people standing outside in very lightning-prone areas (6V) of the storms. By 7PM, Chris, Dave and I were back in Spur and then headed west on state road 261. It seemed like rush-hour with the the number of chasers that were crowded along the narrow road. The Doppler on Wheels research vehicle from UMass was also in the group of chasers. We watched numerous cloud to ground (CG's) lightning strikes (pic #1 (7V) and pic#2 (8V)) from the nearby storms. We drove through one storm with pea sized hail and came out of the rainy dark core to view the gorgeous sunlit side of the storm with a white hail core and rainbow (9P). As the the sun set, we watched the changing colors of the clouds and nearby storms (pic of Dave and Chris;10V) . The dying storms produced mammatus clouds (pic #1 (11V) and pic#2 (12P)) which glowed orange and red as they faded. We then had a long and tiring drive to Amarillo.

1V 2P 3V 4V
5V 6V 7V 8V
9P 10V 11V 12P

(P -- Photo) (V -- Video Still)

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