May 8, 2015


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Vernon, TX
Wichita Falls, TX 10:17 AM 5/8/2015
Vernon, TX 11:01 PM 5/8/2015
Vernon, TX; Randlett, OK; Montague, TX
0 mph
Shelf Cloud, Wall Cloud


Dryline play in north central Texas. Started in Wichita Falls hoping to catch tornadic supercells by late afternoon just to the west. TIV and Doghouse split between target storms. Went for northern, lead tornado warned supercell. Noted HP gust front and precip core. Intercepted storm complex again just across Red River in OK noting gust front before dropping south to more discrete supercell near Bowie, TX. Noted wall cloud and lackluster HP structure near Montague before ending chase.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley Ubl, Phil Bates. Equipment: Canon 60D, Canon t2i, Canon EFS 10-22, Canon EF 50mm, Sony HDR-xr500v..




May 8 was day three on this run for the TIV and Doghouse crews. The setup looked fairly similar to the previous day's with a warm front draped along the Red Rover, storms expected to fire southwest of Wichita Falls, and a mixed storm mode. SPC went with a more favorable 10% this time around though. We were already camped out in Wichita Falls so we anticipated hanging around most of the day until eventually having to move west for the intercept.
Coffee and the morning forecast in the hotel lobby:

The lobby was filled with laptops and chatter about storms. A large college chase group was also staying at our hotel.
Loading up TIV and Doghouse for another chase:
Battle scars adorn Doghouse.
Sean showing off TIV to the college chase team:
Anchor spike test. Check!
We had lunch at the same Mexican restaurant we were at the day before. There were still hours to kill before initiation, however, and an idle TIV and Doghouse crew means trouble.

This is probably the only photo that exists of me in flip flops. My shoes were still soaked from jumping into a water filled ditch twice during the previous chase. I had a pair of wet socks hanging from the Doghouse's window too.
Despite dewpoints approaching 70 making for a tropical sauna and despite that we had just eaten lunch, Sean built a small fire and a spit for roasting. Paul meanwhile was trying to save a tree that had split by binding the trunk with heavy recovery straps.
Finally storm initiation on the dryline and the restless TIV and Doghouse crews could get back to work. We were positioned well downstream with good roads for the intercept, but there appeared to be two potential targets: a mean supercell ahead of the line, and Tail End Charlie on the bottom of the dryline activity. The call was made to split TIV and Doghouse up, TIV taking Tail End Charlie, and Doghouse going for the lead storm.
Doghouse was getting the lesser of the two picks. The storm was displaying a sloppy high precipitation return on radar before we could even get to it, while Tail End Charlie would most likely have much better visiblity. However, rotation ramped up in our target storm and a tornado warning was issued. We might have a view if we could safely get into the storm's inflow notch.
Doghouse inbound toward the supercell:
A line of chasers was ahead of us on the highway, indicated by the red dots on the radar display. The rear flank of the storm was turning into a massive bow echo and another cell was being ingested into the inflow notch. We weren't optimistic about getting a view.

First Supercell
4 miles WNW of Vernon, TX
4:20 PM
Past the town of Vernon, TX we got off the highway and stopped atop an overpass. The elevated view was great for watching the storm come in and was positioned just ahead of the inflow notch. We ould see little except a hazy, gust front and blue green core, however.
The overpass soon became crowded with chasers and spotters, making us a bit edgy about our exit plan as the storm approached.
We had no views of any tornadoes despite a good view into the inflow notch. Any tornado would likely be rain wrapped on this storm. We did a few stop and go maneuvers east down the highway to shoot the gust front.
The screen of Phil's Red camera showing the gust front:
Moving east to stay ahead of the storm as the inflow notch moves over the Red River:

Second Supercell
2 miles E of Randlett, OK
5:51 PM
We ran north into Oklahoma to get in front of the complex once more and shoot the approaching gust front structure:
Chatting with a few storm chasers from overseas:
Moving east to stay ahead of the line, the inflow notch was still visible but any circulation would be completely buried at this point:
Despite the storm regaining a tornado warning, we decided to bail on it, knowing we'd never have a view even if it did produce a tornado. There were more discrete cells firing to our south in north central Texas as the boundary layer started to cool and the low level jet ramped up. A storm heading toward Bowie started to show a hook echo and rapidly strengthened. Given the similar pattern, location, and behavior as the previous day's chase we hoped for a repeat and another large tornado intercept.
We cut east to get in front of the storm instead of a direct core punch. Rotation picked up in the hook and the storm gained a tornado warning, our third tornado warned storm intercept of the day. Doghosue had less than a quarter tank though. If we went for the immediate intercept we might have to bail off the storm to get gas just as it really got going, but if we stopped we could potentially miss the show if it only produced a one and done tornado. We decided to stop for gas in Montague, immediately downstream of the storm. The sirens wailed and I jogged out into the road to try and spot something under the storm while the diesel was pumping.

Third Supercell
3 miles SSW of Montague, TX
7:23 PM
We scrambled to get to the storm's hook. A rear flank gust front and lowered area in the notch, a rather scuddy looking wall cloud, came into view. The storm was HP and the structure was mushy and watery. We stayed ahead of it for a few miles, but it soon fell apart and we lost our light. There would be no repeat of May 7. We decided to call the chase and regroup with the TIV crew. It was another long slog through the rain and hail as the entire warm sector was lighting up with storms as night fell. We met up with the TIV in Vernon, where we caught our first storm of the day, and gathered at a little sports bar for dinner and beer. TIV's storm wound up being HP and not producing either so it didn't matter which target we got assigned to.


This chase was a bust. Despite us getting on tornado warned supercells three times, the storms just did not cooperate for anyone. Weak lapse rates from worked over air probably lead to mushy, watery storms, and waning flow aloft to an HP storm mode.

Lessons Learned

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