Chase Accounts

April 5, 2003
Pictures from this day.

Beginning the day in Denton, TX, Scott Blair and I targeted Haskell, TX, where a dryline/warm front intersection was progged to set up around 21z. We expected the triple-point to provide the focus for storm initiation at around 3-4 p.m. and hoped that we could get a supercell to ride along the warm front.

We arrived in Haskell at 2 p.m. and noticed some fuzzy anvils in the distance, which indicated that initiation had occurred earlier than expected. We continued west on Hwy. 380, and within a few minutes, one cell rapidly strengthened near Rotan and was placed under a tornado warning. We finally got into position to observe the updraft base about five miles east of Aspermont. The base looked rather disorganized at first, but it soon underwent an intense transformation. Scott and I watched with awe as an immense area of scud formed near the ground and rose rapidly into the base, literally forming a large blocky wall cloud within a matter of seconds. It was an amazing process to observe and constitutes the quickest formation of a wall cloud I've seen to date.

The wall cloud persisted for about 5 minutes as the RFD began cutting around it and intense downward motion could be seen in association with the RFD. Scott and I bumped another mile west on Hwy. 380, getting as close as we could without getting into the forward-flank precip that was just to our west. Just as we pulled over again at 2:58, the sides of the wall cloud eroded to reveal a large cone tornado about 4-5 miles south-southwest of Aspermont. Although the tornado was about 7-8 miles away, our position afforded us beautiful backlighting as we watched the tornado morph from a cone into a stovepipe against a golden backdrop. It was truly a fantastic display, but finally, after 7 minutes of being on the ground, the tornado lifted, leaving only a large funnel in its place as the RFD wrapped the meso in rain and completed the occlusion process.

With the old meso no longer a concern, we blasted back east then south of Old Glory on FM 1835. As we made our way out of the light precip, a new wall cloud appeared to our southwest. It appeared to be slightly undercut as it had somewhat of a shelf cloud appearance. As we approached the meso from the north, it was clear that we weren't going to be able to get ahead of it and to its south. It was also clear that the wall cloud was organizing significantly, and we were going to be in for a show. We set up about 100 yards north of the meso's path, and as it crossed FM 1835, the wall cloud began twisting and writhing as cloud matter streamed upward into the base at an incredible rate. It was truly a jaw-dropping sight, and a tornado seemed imminent. However, it was not to be as the meso moved on, and we were now out of east options with a nasty core bearing down on us.

In order to keep up with the cell, we were going to have to backtrack north through the core and then east again on Hwy. 380. Our progress was short lived though. Within a couple of minutes baseball-size stones began falling. With my windshield now cracked in three places, I pressed on, but the deluge of hail to follow and the accompanying hail fog was too much, and I was forced to pull over and wait it out.

We finally re-intercepted the cell just after 5 p.m. near Woodson. Scott was a couple of miles ahead of me and was able to just get ahead of it at Woodson while I opted to approach it from behind on Hwy. 283. The cell still had a decent updraft but was now obviously a major HP producing up to softball-size hail and doing an enormous amount of damage to Woodson. We continued following the cell to Mineral Wells where we decided to call it a day and let it go. We later met up with several other chasers and capped off a successful early season chase at Pizza Hut.


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