Day 3: Messy supercells in Texas

My jetlag is not really letting go of me and I woke up at 4:30 AM. This was in fact a bit convenient because I had an interview scheduled with a UK based journalist from USA Today who are making an article about storm chasing. So, I started off the day with responding to questions about storm chasing in general and storm chasing tours in particular. We had to get up very early to make the long drive from Kansas. I spent the majority of the time in the backseat, catching up on some work.

Today had some tornado opportunity but SPC shifted back and forth between a 2% and 5% tornado risk in our area around San Angelo where we targeted. We arrived to our generally targeted area around 3 P.M. and at that time it felt almost like a down day. We had been driving for so long that it felt like the day was already over! It wasn’t.

After the usual gas station hangout a storm started coming our way, it was already supercellular and had rotation on it. It was “only” 3 counties away, but this meant a 45 minute drive to intercept it. Luckily, it was coming our way and followed the highway quite well, which was good because there aren’t many road options in this area.

Driving towards a rotating storm that you cannot see the base of is always both exciting and painfully stressful. You don’t want to miss out on a early tornado, especially if it is the only one! Circumstances were however that live streamer Brandon Copic was on the same storm, so I could watch the storm on my phone while we were heading towards it – making sure nothing happened!

When we finally caught up it was still rotating, and the rotation speed was steadily increasing as well. Compared to our supercell in Kansas on Day 2 it was almost impossible (for me) to see this in the storm. Even when storms in Texas are isolated like this one, it is usually much messier than equivalent storms further up north. Sometimes it is difficult to get the bearing of what you are actually looking at with so many low level clouds as this one had.

We had a few decent stops before the lack of low level support finally showed, and the storm became outflow dominant. We had an attempt at a storm to our west but it never did anything special.

Houston was otherwise the talk of the town today. It got smashed by a Derecho with embedded tornados killing four people. We did in fact have the Derecho running over us at its very early stages (when it was just a bow echo).

All in all, the day turned out quite as expected given the forecast. Usually I try to find something new in every storm I look for, or something new to learn but I think this storm chasing day as a whole was quite vanilla. The excitement driving towards the storm possibly was the main take from this day.

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