Day 3 – Storm chasing in Texas

Today was quite a classic day of Storm Chasing. We woke up, had breakfast / brunch at Ihop and by then our guides Charles had made a plan for today’s trip. They look at their radar images, listen to weather reports, look at their gadgets and make estimates where it is most likely that the super-cells and tornadoes will be created.

Today, it seemed to be  western Oklahoma and north-western Texas, so we started moving in that direction. Charles has access to local radar images on his laptop that enables him to analyze the storm clouds around. On it he will look for emerging clouds that show the right features.

Today we passed a number of smaller cells on the way down through Kansas, but none looked really interesting. Instead, we focused on a double cell being formed in north-western Texas and sped on southwards. On the way down there we drove past another cell which at first did not seem interesting at all, but began shaping up really quickly.

What happens when a storm cloud begins to mature is that it is rising up quickly and starts to spread at high altitude. If the rotation is strong enough this can be seen on the radar. When you then start to see a “wall cloud”, that’s when it starts to get really interesting.

This very day outside Canadian, Texas, it was just like this. A wall cloud began to emerge from the cloud and created formations of small clouds down toward the ground. If a wall cloud starts to rotate, it can produce tornadoes.

A really large storm cell is called super-cell and is a magnificent sight. Our storm cell developed into one and we drove through it at the small village of Canadian, TX. Rain and hail poured down, and the clouds seemed like they were just some 100 meters above. When you also know that the roof basically can start to spin into a tornado at any time, your pulse really goes up a few notches!

We went out on the other side of the base and then kept ourselves just outside this low wall cloud. The storm created quite frequent lightning and when the wall cloud silently floats in and over you, it is just plain powerful. It looks very much like when the mother ship in Independence Day floats over the sky!

Absolutely amazing!

Photos from the storm:

This is how it looked from inside the car when it suddenly started to become interesting. A wall cloud is beginning to shape. In fact, one of these clouds started funneling during a short time, i.e., the prelude to a tornado. However, it was so far away that I did not even notice it.


texas storm
A little bit later, the wall cloud (he darker one in the back) has grown a bit larger. A wall cloud is only the very lowest part of the storm and the size of it is just a fraction of the entire storm cloud. However, it is the wall cloud that is most interesting in the case of shaping tornadoes.
base storm cloud
A bit later. Notice how flat the base of the storm is!


underneath the storm
Photo from when we drove in under the storm cloud and were heading out on the other side.


Now the storm quite well developed. One can see the rain coming down on the far left of the shelf cloud and then how the storm goes up in different layers. Just next to the storm, the sky is blue!


me and mother ship
You stand by shooting photos, admiring the cloud that floats in as a mother ship from Independence Day. Then it starts to flash very close to where you stand, you get back into the car again and drive a little further away.
face in the clouds
I saw this face in the clouds while we re-positioned and immediately took a photo. A short while later it was gone.

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