2007 March 28
Copyright 2007 Eric Nguyen
 
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Chase Area:  Texas Panhandle
Amos and I targeted the Amarillo, Texas, area ahead of the dryline.  Instability was forecasted to be very high (3000+ J/kg), shear values more than sufficient for supercells, and strong low level shear as surface winds backed southeast.  We left Denton, Texas, at 10am up highway 287, stopping in Claude, Texas, to wait for storms to develop.  An isolated storm fired south of Shamrock, Texas, which appeared to be in a very favorable area for further intensification.  We blasted east to watch it die on radar, which we then blasted south of I-40 towards Clarendon, Texas.  We continued south and observed our first tornado near Silverton, Texas.

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Tornado #1:  Silverton, Texas
We observed a large cone funnel that we never confirmed as a tornado that was ongoing when we arrived.  We found a high spot and observed a rope tornado off to our southwest by 10-15 miles.  This tornado began at 2302 UTC and dissipated at 2304 UTC.  Several people drove by and appeared to be unaware that there was a tornado on the ground.

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Tornado #2:  North of Silverton, Texas
We continued south and found a low spot that overlooked a ridge to our west.  We initially had a lot of hail up to golf ball sized and rain falling, however as the tornado developed the rain and hail stopped.  The storm moved up to the ridge and touched down at 2330 UTC as a weak debris cloud under a large cone.  Over time it developed a merry-go-round of multiple vorticies and eventually fully condensed.  It went through many changes and was an amazing tornado to watch.  It was pretty easy to sit back and enjoy this as there was no rain or hail, and no lightning to worry about.  Once the tornado moved into the valley we were in, we could hear the tornado roar.  It was roughly one mile to our west.

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Tornado #2:  Then The Sun Came Out
If this view couldn't get any better, the sun came out, turning the tornado white.  On top of that, the tornado moved into the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, which turned the debris cloud dark brown from the sand in the river.  It wasn't long when we were hit by a warm but strong RFD, which made it difficult to stand up at times.  Luckily it was a dry RFD.

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Tornado #2:  Ropes Out
The tornado slowly began to rope out, which lasted for quite some time.  The tornado dissipated at 0010 UTC.

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Night Fall
We followed the storm all the way up to I-40, observing several tornadoes on the way.  Most notably, the tornado that eventually crossed I-40 west of McLean, Texas.  This started out as a violent rotating wallcloud with multiple thin ropes touching down, and eventually morphing into a large stovepipe tornado.  The first image shows the storm just after a weak thin tornado lifted.  Unfortunately the roads didn't have many places to pull off, and occasionally very strong RFD winds and hail prevented me from doing a tripoded long exposure.  We had large tree branches flying off the trees from the RFD winds, which we kept running over.  Occasionally they would hit the side of the car.  The second image shows a video capture Amos took of the tornado 6 miles SSW of McLean, Texas, at 0114 UTC.  It gives you a sense of how close we were as we paralleled it on a northbound road.  When we got close to I-40 we observed a new tornado to our immediate east.  We blasted north to I-40 and stopped just north of I-40 on Hwy 273 to wait out the two tornadoes.  Our long-lived tornado went west of McLean crossing I-40, and the tornado to our east passed 1-1.5 miles east of us, crossing I-40, hitting power lines which knocked out power to McLean, and passing over a West Texas Mesonet Station.  This weather station measured a 124mph 3 second wind gust.  After both tornadoes were well to our north, we called it a night and went east on I-40.  We drove to Shamrock, Texas, meeting up with Bob Fritchie and Rachael Sigler for dinner at a Dairy Queen.  We then learned about the devastating tornado outbreak that was going on across southwest Nebraska, Western Kansas, and down into the Texas Panhandle where we were.  A tornado to our west hit Groom, Texas, which shut down I-40 all the way to the Oklahoma border.  Police crews were turning people around and making them take the Shamrock exit.  This was a nightmare for travelers.  Highway 287 was also shut down after a tornado crossed 287 near Clarendon, Texas.  Our storm to our north raged on and had a classic violent supercell appearance.  After a long day like this, the last thing I want to do is do a dangerous nighttime chase.  We took Hwy 83 south out of Shamrock towards Childress, which conveniently took us out of the mess that was occurring on I-40.

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Copyright 2007 Eric Nguyen
 
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