Began the day solo targeting Happy, TX and reliving my May 5, 2002 chase
before blasting north toward the developing cell southwest of Amarillo. As
I intercepted the cell south of Bushland, the base came into view and
exhibited nice structure with strong upward motion. Rapid rotation was
noted in the cloud base as it approached Amarillo, but the meso occluded
without producing, leaving a rather flat and unimpressive base. Shortly
after, a tornado warning was issued for Randall County, four miles north of
Happy. Blasting back south on I-27, I ran into Scott Blair, Eric Nguyen,
and Amos Magliocco and continued the chase with them.
Taking 285 east toward Wayside, we intercepted the cell east of Happy and
found it to be rapidly transitioning into an HP although good cloud base
motion was still noted as the storm cycled through mesos. As the storm
continued to become quite messy, we bumped east to Wayside then south about
five miles as we observed a newly developed supercell with a low-hanging
wall cloud to our southwest moving northeast toward us.1.
As the meso approached, rapid, low-level cloud base rotation was observed
as a few spin-ups were noted at 7:01. Simultaneously, an elephant trunk
tornado became visible from an occluded meso further west. The elephant
trunk, soon dissipated, but the nearest meso wasn’t finished as a slender
rope briefly made its way toward the ground.2.
We bumped back north ahead of the circulation, then shortly east. As the
meso occluded, it took on a large bowl-shape, rotating rapidly.3.
At ~7:35, debris was noted swirling under the meso. Within a few seconds,
the tornado fully condensed, crossing FM 2301 and creating a power flash as
it struck the power lines. The tornado continued for a couple of minutes,
strengthening while becoming stretched and elongated and then dissipating.
During this time, another tornado formed near the one already ongoing.4., 5., 6., 7.
We continued tracking the cell, but observed no more tornadoes before it
reached the unchaseable territory of the Palo Duro Canyon, where we
encountered 80 mph straight-line winds. Ending the day, we made our way
back to I-27 via FM 285, encountering long portions of the road inundated
with deep flooding.