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Chase May 15 2003

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Route:Amarillo (TX) - Clarendon (TX) - Alan Reed (TX) - Le Fors (TX) - McLean (TX)
Chasepartner(s):Saskia Mulder


CHASE LOG:
A high risk and PDS in the Texas Panhandle! As we were staying in Amarillo, we decided to wait till the first storms formed in the nearby area. During the afternoon a cell formed in the extreme northwestern Panhandle, but it would take us at least 2 hours to get there, so we stayed in our room. On tv we saw footage of that storm as it produced a large tornado near Stratford...hmmmmm. Outside there was a brisk southeastherly wind. My guess is that it was at least 7 Bft. Nice shear conditions! Storms tried to form near Amarillo during the late afternoon, but they couldn't handle the cap. At about 18.30 one storm south of AMA did break the cap and it was time to start the chase. We headed southeast on US 287 and near Clarendon we were underneath the updraft of the storm. We stopped for gas and met some other chasers. There even was a rumour Warren Faidley was around. At the base of the storm we saw some slight rotation, but there wasn't a well defined wall cloud present.
As the storm moved northeast we used highway 70 to keep up with the storm. To our east we saw a rock hard updraft and to our west new storms started to form. Which one should we be chasing now? We decided to follow the updraft to our east. We used the I40 to go east, but soon we were underneath the updraft again. It had a tornado warning! We took the exit at Alan Reed.
Lightning got more frequent, but most discharges were CC and IC. We tried to find a dry spot near highway 273 for lightning photography, but those dry periods were rare. We drove north and south again, but it was impossible to keep out of the rain. At one time we headed straight into the hailcore of the storm. Aaarghhh what a noice! We were afraid our windshield could break and drove very very slowly. CG's struck all around us at this point.
Finally we got out of the rain and hail near McLean. We headed a few miles west on I40 and stopped on a farm road for lightning photography. To our east we saw a line of storms with lots of ligtning. Most of them were crawlers in the anvil.
When the storm moved away we got to see the last half hour of the lunar eclipse. It looked great, but it must have been better when the eclipse was full.


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© 2003 Bernard Hulshof