Stepwise through Stephenville – 30 April 2004

April 30, 2004 by
Filed under: Summary 

SHORT: Killed a series of supercells from Ryan OK to near Brownwood. Saw a funnel not associated with any of them. Fun chase anyway.

LONG: We roared out of AbNorman as soon as Elke got off work (2 p.m.), and after my NOW post noting development near SPS. We went from 50s and overcast (post-frontal) in abNorman to mid 70s and sunny between Pauls Valley and Davis. The anvil from the tornadic Ryan/Waurika storm was coming into view by the time we approached the Arbuckles, with some fat mammatus bags dangling beneath.

We heard the tornado reports (the one seen by OF Marshall) while approaching ADM. I didn’t have much hope that it would stay a discrete, cyclic *and* non-HP storm by the time we could get there, based on early initiation, weak CINH and a sharp frontal boundary to its SW, but we tried anyway, rolling past Cornish and Orr to near Grady, as a dark pall loomed across the western sky. Along OK32 near Grady (Jefferson County), we were passed at stunning speed (91 mph, to be specific) by a red truck with the label UK STORM CHASER, as if that was license for this self-absorbed jackass to drive *that* fast on a shoulderless, hilly, and probably unfamiliar 2-lane roadway. By the time the yahoo roared out of view, it was apparent that the storm into which he was hastily plunging was at least backbuilding across the river, perhaps lining out altogether. We turned around and went to Nocona, then SSW toward Bowie in valiant attempt to get S of this outflow-vomiting heap and on to other storms. This was out last view of it, looking N from between Bowie and Nocona.

A small updraft embedded in the line, near Bowie, produced a skinny shear funnel, about 1/4 to 1/5 of the way to the ground, that didn’t last long enough for me to stop and take a picture. The next storm was a supercell embedded in the line near Jacksboro, but still with distinct structure. Here it is evolving into outflow dominance:

…so we bailed yet farther SSW. We tried to intercept the next storm at MWL, apparently an HP storm as viewed from the distance. But as we entered MWL, it evolved fast into a small bow and surged ENE. Because of the town delays and its acceleration; we couldn’t beat it across US 281 and got smacked by the crosswinds and some small hail instead. My driver’s side windshield wiper busted into fragments, including some loosely dangling metal rods. As long as the windshield was wet, though, it wouldn’t scratch the glass up. There was nothing I would call severe while we were in this storm; though the WFO did warn for this feature as it roared up I-20 toward the S side of FTW. We bid the mess adieu. This view is looking N from just N of SEP:

It was a very low light situation out there, as you probably can tell from the high-ISO grain the digital camera imparts to the image when shot at roughly f3. So we hit SEP, about ready to call it an evening, when Constable Bobby called to advise us of a tornadic storm near BWD. We were close, it wasn’t dark yet, and already we had killed three supercells; so why not ruin one more? And so we did. Man, that was a dark storm a MUN (mean/ugly/nasty) HP beast! Actual light, looking WNW from between Energy and Indian Gap (westernmost Hamilton County):

…and a deliberate overexposure to bring out the structure better:

Told you it was dark in there. Just in case it tried any funny business from within the precip-wrapped NE flank (as intense HPs sometimes do), we maneuvered ourselves around to the ENE of the meso; but by then, both it and our last daylight were fading.

We had Texas mesquite BBQ (*real* barbecue, not this oversweetened, under-smoked, second-rate stuff from KC or North Carolina!) and a Texas style chicken fried steak at Woody’s Grill just NE of Dublin, along the SE side of US377. I strongly recommend this place for a hearty, filling after-chase meal should you ever end up anywhere in the SEP-BWD area. The next day was spent repairing the windshield wiper, eating good meals, touring the world’s oldest Dr Pepper bottler in Dublin, stocking up on heaven-in-a-bottle (original style Dublin DP with pure cane sugar), and breathing in the fresh spring scenery of greenery between Comanche, Possum Kingdom and Wichita Falls. Also recommended: Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant in Comanche.



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