Storm Chase 2000: May 27

Jacksboro, Texas: long funnel, rotating wall cloud, amazing roll cloud

I started in Mineral Wells, Texas. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday during Memorial Day Weekend and data was hard to find. Libraries were either closed or opening late. I drove to Denton, Texas because of a listing in the Kinkos store location guide but the Denton Kinkos would not be open for another several months. I found a public library with a long waiting list for internet access. I saw an open computer designated "geneology" but the librarian wouldn't let me use it for even a couple of minutes. Eventually, I found an open university library and checked data. My target was Jacksboro, Texas which was close to Tim Vasquez' target of Olney, Texas. I headed back west on 380 through Decatur, Texas. A very pretty part of Texas that reminded me of Virginia horse country. I planned to stop in Jacksboro for lunch, gas and maybe check more data. I had only eaten an Alsups burrito in the last 48 hours. By 1PM, I noticed Cu developing several miles west of Denton. Towers were forming by 1:20. This was very early and I wished I'd spent less time wandering around Denton looking for data. At 1:30, a storm (1V) was visible to the northwest. I heard a tornado warning for Eastern Archer County. The storm was moving northeast. Arghhh! I was still far away. I drove through Jacksboro and then north on 148 passing through a weird area of dead forest on both sides of the road. I hoped to intercept the storm from the south. I figured that 281 northwest of Jacksboro would take me too far west of the main updraft. I continued north on 148, then west on 174. Something wasn't right. The storm was too far to my south. Another radio report confirmed that the storm was moving southeast, not northeast. I was worried that any tornadic activity would end before I arrived. I backtracked south along 148, watching the nice crisp anvil. I took 175 west through Antelope grazing the edge of the storm and encountering brief heavy rain and hail. I turned south onto 281 and drove out of the rain. I briefly chatted with a few chasers at 2:33PM. By 2:38, I noticed an area of rotation and a notch (2V) forming to my west. A funnel (3V) quickly formed and was two thirds to the ground (4V) at 2:42. I didn't see any debris but trees blocked my view of the ground. The funnel became obscured by rain and I continued south on 281 and away from the storm (5V) There were large numbers of chasers around including one with his own portable radar. I stopped and talked with one group of chasers (6V) including Matt Crowther from The Weather Channel. Chasers including myself would watch the the storm (7P), then move farther down 281 to get away from the approaching rain and hail. The storm became very linear (8V)and no additional tornadoes were likely. I briefly stopped in Jacksboro for gas (I was running on fumes) and then headed north to catch a storm south of Wichita Falls. I was out of luck as it soon died. I did pass through some wild dust storms blowing through a town as tornado sirens blared in the distance. Very eery. I ended the chase because the whole area was overcast and visibility was poor. I couldn't obtain any radar data. I later learned that I could have intercepted a tornadic storm to the north of Dallas. I leisurely drove to Dallas stopping at a satellite uplink facility where I met Sam Barricklow and we chatted about recent chases. I later watched a roll cloud (9P)at 7:30PM. Produced by cold outflow from distant storms, this long tube-shaped cloud rolled toward me, backlit by the setting sun. (10V) Very impressive. The roll cloud alone was worth the chase day. Success is not only defined by finding a tornado. Finally, I settled in with a plate of Texas barbecue ribs. A step up from an Alsups burrito. I left Dallas the next day.

For only a week, I am pleased with my results. I saw beautiful storm structure, rainbows, hail, wall clouds, one possibly two tornadoes, funnel clouds, dust storms, roll clouds and lightning. I also got to see some old friends. Even the off days were fun as I hiked and photographed the backroads of Texas.

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

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

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