Panhandle Unchase

June 10, 2010 by · Comments Off on Panhandle Unchase
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Channing/Groom TX, 25 May 10

SHORT: Observed supercell get munched by outflow-dominant multicell complex NW of Amarillo. Pretty sunset.

This wasn’t specifically intended to be a chase day; but if we happened to see a decent storm along the way, that was acceptable! We had a truck bed full of cargo from Elke’s late mom that we were bringing home from DEN-OUN. Even though most of it was well-covered by plastic, getting in a bunch of rain and especially hail was not a palatable option. Therefore, even though the most dense concentration of convection promised to be along the Kansas segment of the dryline, where tornadic storms did occur, we opted to use the southern route through the Panhandles in hopes of more discrete activity.

We could see the first towers erupting along the dryline, early in the afternoon and to the distant E-ESE, while still on I-25 in southern Colorado. After turning ESE on US-87, a series of big towers grew into storms to our ENE and NE, including some of the Kansas activity that provided the joy of rich and abundant data to V.O.R.T.EX.-2 scientists. Near Des Moines (the New Mexico town, that is), we saw a classical, atom-bomb style of thunderhead eruption in the western Texas Panhandle, off to our SE (here photographed beyond one of the area’s numerous, inactive cinder cones). Given the favorable shear and discrete nature of this storm, its destiny as a supercell was assured, and our destiny was to intercept it — preferably avoiding most of the precip.

It took us a long time to get around to the E side of the slow-moving storm, even via the fairly direct CAO-DHT-Hartley route on US-87. As we approached DHT, radar imagery indicated that a left-split off of some storms N of Clovis was growing into a large, northward-moving multicell cluster — headed directly for our intensifying supercell! Just our stinkin’ luck! Tracking our course and that of the raging multicell cluster from hell, it was obvious the solitary supercell with so much potential would be snuffed out like a match in a fire hose, not long after we got in viewing position.

Our viewing position turned out to be virtually the same spot N of Channing from which Rich T and I first observed the tornadic Dumas-Stinnett supercell from 18 May. Unfortunately, this textured and colorful little storm was about to be absolutely destroyed by the onrushing wall of outflow and convection from its S. We had about 15 minutes of viewing as that happened, then headed to AMA.

There was too little daylight left to attempt to intercept Jeff Passner’s tornadic storm near Dimmit, so we stopped in AMA for dinner, drove E, photographed the Leaning Water Tower of Groom in some nicely reddening sunset light, then drove on home in the dark of night. So, in effect, we were able to observe the shortest-lived and most decidedly nontornadic supercell in between all the longer-lived, tornadic ones.