Our morning forecast discussion was done on the road after an 8:45 AM CST departure from Amarillo, TX. The convective outflow boundary from yesterday’s storm complex descended southward overnight, pushing moisture with it and containing higher dewpoints in the south central Texas region. A convergence zone associated with yesterday’s initiation also descended, and was located in the southeast corner of New Mexico and west central Texas. The setup is similar to yesterday in that all of yesterday’s forcing events existed today, although further south. Initiation was forecast to occur near the convergence zone in west central Texas and low level flow would push initiated storms southeast along the boundary. We therefore initially selected Big Lake, TX as our target.
Initiation occurred just northwest of Crane, TX, and we altered our course slightly to intercept the initial storm. We stopped in the parking lot of Rancherita Mexican Restaurant at the corner of Ranch-to-Market Road 2401 and TX 349 to view the rotating wall cloud the storm had dropped (Figure 1). We followed the storm south to County Road 111 to continue viewing, and the storm became tornado warned on our way there. (Figure 2).
In order to follow the storm, we moved south through Rankin, TX and headed east to stay in front of the storm on US 67. Once we reached Texon, TX, further severe development ahead of the storm created a cold pool that staunched the inflow of the storm we had initially chased, weakening it. We took shelter in Big Lake, TX as hail cores to the south and east prevented our movement. It had been raining there for nearly an hour, resulting in impressive flooding in the area. After the hail core weakened, we cut across the north edge of the storm and attempted to move further south to catch the back side of the storm.
We reached Barnhart, TX and turned south. We turned east on US 190 and followed a storm that blossomed to the east of the cell that forced us to stay in Big Lake for a time. After reaching Eldorado, it became clear that cells would not achieve tighter rotation, so we decided it would be more worth our time to chase a beautiful shelf cloud that was throwing some excellent lighting. We stopped in Sonora, TX to photograph and stopped at several places along the interstate as we moved east on I-10 to our hotel in Kerrville, TX (Figure 3).
Something to add…at around 10:00 PM CST, our hotel in Kerrville, TX experienced tennis ball sized hail…the largest hail many of us have ever seen! Much of it shattered on impact, but we did manage to get a picture of some golf ball sized hail that fell. (Figure 4)
Tomorrow’s severe threat is reduced, but the greatest threat is near the Big Bend area of Texas. We will likely head there as we continue our search for tornadoes! Stay tuned!
Click on this link for an interactive chase map: