Clam’s Foot Surfer

July 1, 2010 by
Filed under: Summary 

Dumas TX and vicinity
12 Jun 10

SHORT: Observed outflow-dominant line E of Dumas, elevated stage of supercell SW of Dumas that hailed over us at dinner.

Elke and I began the day with a cold breakfast at our Burlington motel, joined by Chuck and Teresa Robertson, then Matt Crowther and Vince Miller, all of whom also had intercepted the Limon-area supercells the day before. The cold front was surging farther S, faster than forecast the previous day, so we all had to get out of town soon and jaunt down south to the Panhandles. For Chuck and his lovely bride, who live in the northeastern TX Panhandle, it would be a return home, with storms along the way.

After a couple of hours on the road, we stopped to pick up some provisions at the Wal-Mart in Lamar CO. On the way to the rear latrine, I spotted a familiar human form — there was Vince, picking out a shirt in the clothing section! What are the odds? A short chat with him and Matt outside, and we all were back on the road again. We wouldn’t see either of them the remainder of the day. Still, in storm observing, such are the unplanned, chance encounters one can have with familiar old friends and acquaintances.

By the time we got to Boise City OK, storms already were firing along the cold front to our S and SE in the TX Panhandle, with big towers erupting beyond the cool, foggy haze. The most robust of those went through a briefly tornadic supercell phase well before we could get to it, then turned into a large HP mess. We thought about “rounding the corner” on it E of Dumas, but by the time we committed to that plan and got near it, the entire complex had degenerated into this rather amorphous, outflow-spewing mess, all while dumping nearly a foot of rain from train-echoes near Morse.

Another fun serendipity of storm observing is being in the same place twice, hundreds of miles from home, on different days and different storms, in the same season. Such was the case with the last photo, which I took on FM-1060 while less than a hundred yards from where I shot the mesocyclonic merry-go-round E of Dumas the previous month (see You Decide, 18 May 10). We retraced steps from that amazing May day eastward through Stinnett and north a few miles, but without such intense atmospheric results.

While shooting time lapses N of Stinnett, David Hoadley pulled up and chatted with us for awhile in the cool outflow. It’s always a pleasure to see Dave again, as I seem to do about once a season at some random rural pull-off near a storm. Some new cells were trying to fire south of the outflow boundary and W-NW of AMA, so Dave and I agreed that was the only remaining viable target, and parted ways, independently heading the same general direction. Along the way back to Dumas, Elke and I stopped to shoot a couple of peculiar, fascinatingly illuminated and somewhat convective scud formations (first and second).

One longer-lived cell had crossed over the arching outflow boundary SW of Dumas but remained intense on radar, so after grabbing a motel room there, we drove a couple of miles S of town to take an unobstructed look. We still were in cold NE outflow from the massive complex to our NE, and this storm was obviously elevated at the time, exhibiting laminar formations and riding atop an elongated, clam’s-foot cloud formation (wide-angle view looking WSW) as the chill breeze at our backs strengthened further. Ribbed texturing to the main low-cloud band, glowing in twice-reflected, late-afternoon light, formed an uncommon and striking visual backdrop for the wind farm SW of town.

Thinking somewhat erroneously that the storm would remain elevated, we ate dinner in Dumas as it rolled over us, profusely peppering the restaurant windows with a protracted blast of hail near an inch in diameter. I was tempted to run out and grab some hailstones as ice for my drink, though the Moore County Health Department might not have approved of this item on the menu. It turns out that the supercell backbuilt and right-moved, once again getting close to the eastern segment of the curving boundary, and becoming surface-based again to our E, after it left town. We finished supper and headed a few miles SW of Dumas hoping for sunset photography, but with all the various clouds in the way, all we could salvage was some twilight pastels over ripened wheat.

We slept well that night, knowing that the next days’ target would be in the Panhandle also, but not knowing that we would see both a pretty tornado-producing supercell and the largest amount of standing water we’ve ever witnessed on a High Plains storm intercept.


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