Resting in Salina Kansas tonight after a couple of tough days. A long first day drive put us in Conway Arkansas on Tuesday night. We had our eye on north Texas for a number of days as a first chase target, and our forecast certainly proved accurate. On our drive westward out of Arkansas, we ran into thunderstorm cells east of Oklahoma City. Any potential route down I-35 south into Texas was blocked or slowed by extensive coverage of hail-producing thunderstorms, so our only option was a route southwestward through Lawton OK and Wichita Falls TX. We rolled through some storms, and cruised past some nice structure on the backside of the thunderstorms. Nearing the Red River we noticed a particularly well-defined cell and opted to veer off course to play tag with it for awhile. The base of the storm continued to organize and produced a nice wall cloud with a distinct funnel under it. Due to hills and trees, we could not determine whether any tornadic circulation reached the ground under the funnel. The shot by Trevor White below shows the wall cloud and funnel.
As this storm moved into an area where the road network became poor, we continued southward across the Red River into Texas. The location of the dryline became obvious over time as clouds to the west became moisture starved, while robust development continued to the east of our route south of Wichita Falls into Wise county. We targeted a cell that was the southernmost cell at the time in a loose line of relatively discrete storms. Winding roads an trees obscured the low-level view of the storm at times, but we pressed onward, continually trying to maneuver around the storm. Several times the storm appeared to produce possible tornadoes under the wall clouds, but we weren’t able to confirm it with terrain and poor contrast under the storm. Below is another shot taken by Trevor White, our photographer, of the storm as it approaches the town of Alford in Wise County TX. A tornado was reported with this storm shortly after this photo was taken.
We were able to position ourselves very close to the rotating updraft at dusk, and observed rapidly rising and rotating cloud tags under the cell. If we had other travel options southward this day that would have saved some time, we may have targeted the storm further south that produced the Hood County tornado this day. Will post more as time permits. Setting up for a multi-day chase period coming up. -Dave