May 10, 2013


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Junction, TX
Mason, TX 11:48 AM 5/10/2013
Springfield, IL 1:00 AM 5/13/2013
Uvalde, TX
0 mph
Gust front, dust storm


Upslope supercell chase off TX/Mexican border. Targeted sw of Junction, TX for afternoon upslope initiation. Intercepted in middle of line of cells near Uvalde, TX where dust storm developed under gust front. Chased HP supercell east and south to George West, TX until after dark.

Crew and Equipment

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




This was Brindley and my third day out on the plains. A cold front moving in from the north was pushing the moisture and instability further and further south each day we were out. We followed it and the upper level winds, winding up in southern Texas by the 10th. This was now the furthest south we had ever chased. Brindley and I started the day in Mason, TX, grabbing breakfast at a quaint little diner in the middle of the town while checking the morning data. Upslope flow across the Mexican highlands was to be the focal point for afternoon initiation of storms. Shear and veering profiles were there to support supercells, but lack of surface boundaries and low level wind kept the tornado probabilities pretty low. We targeted southwest of Junction, TX off of I-10 and made our way down there by early afternoon. We stopped at a motel off the highway to check data and await initiation. We were miles off of our initial intercept point, but I knew that this would probably be the last location we would have data before we got into the remote backcountry approaching the Mexican border. Cells finally lit up just west of the Rio Grande, and well to our west in southwest TX. We watched them for a bit before committing on a target and heading south out of Junction toward Uvalde. The terrain was poor at best, with tall hills and scrubby trees. I feared that, in addition to having no data, we wouldn’t have a view of our storm. A messy line of cells went up ahead of and we decided to punch through a gap in the middle of them and then find a dominant looking cell on the other side. We made it through the line of cells and came out ahead of them just north of Uvalde, where the terrain miraculously opened up and Brindley was able to get a few scans of radar on her phone. Hank Schyma stopped by to say hi while we were stopped on the side of the road just as a high precipitation supercell started to come into view from the west. The cell exhibited a ragged gust front, but looked to be a promising chase target for the day. The cell was approaching us rapidly, so we hurried through Uvalde. Some sort of outdoor or event or concert was being setup in the middle of town, and we hoped everyone had a chance to get out of there before this potentially severe thunderstorm hit.

Scuddy wall cloud/gust front
3 miles SE of Uvalde, TX
5:59 PM
We took a SE county highway out of town that would parallel our storm’s motion nicely. A ragged attempt at a wall cloud formed just to our west, but the feature looked pretty scuddy or outflowy.

Birth of a Dust Storm
3 miles SE of Uvalde, TX
6:02 PM
As the feature passed by us to the north, the storm became dramatically more photogenic. Beautiful shades of blue and teal colored the layered gust front, and then the first tendrils of dust started to kick up under the apex of the gust front as a dust storm started to form.

Dramatic Gust Front
3 miles SE of Uvalde, TX
6:03 PM
We stayed as long as we could until the gust front started to go overhead and we got blasted by outflow. We packed up our cameras, scrambled into the van, and blasted east down the highway to get out ahead of the gust front again.

Approachign Storm
15 miles ESE of Uvalde, TX
6:19 PM
We setup for another shot of the approaching gust front, marveling at the photogenic structure and colors.

Blowing Dust
19 miles WNW of Pearsall, TX
6:37 PM
The dust storm grew rapidly in size, and as it approached, the horizon turned a dark muddy brown with dust filling the sky. We tried to stay ahead of it, but we were eventually caught up in it as it rapidly expanded around us. Visibility dropped significantly and the winds got pretty gusty, but we were able to get back out ahead of the dust without too much issue.
As evening set in we were able to get out ahead of the storm and into some terrain with a decent view. Laminar layers of cloud built up on top of a high precipitation supercell gust front. For awhile it looked like we had a double wall cloud type feature going with the old one fanning out to the south and a new one forming to the north, but the feature remained scuddy and eventually fell apart. The green lines and yellow sunbeams made for a really photogenic storm though.

Green Core and Yellow Sunbeams
10 miles SSW of Jourdanton, TX
7:44 PM

Gust Front over Lake
4 miles W of Three Rivers, TX
8:33 PM
We eventually dropped south of the gust front to prevent us from getting caught up in the storm and then followed from the south as night set in. We passed Choke Canyon Reservoir and decided to try and get into one of the parks to shoot lightning out across the lake. We found an entrance on the southeast side of the lake. It had an admissions gate, but it was open and looked unmanned so we just drove in. We took the first turn off at the lake edge and setup for gust front and lightning shots. It was a scenic location, but we soon realized that the gust front was rapidly expanding to the south and would soon overtake us.

Lightning over Lake
4 miles W of Three Rivers, TX
8:37 PM
Just before the gust front hit, we packed up our gear and made for the exit of the park. Near the gate, however, I saw headlights waiting at the entrance, and sure enough as we approached, flashing red and blues turned out. We were someplace we weren’t supposed to be. I pulled up alongside the officer and told him we were chasers, stopping by to shoot the storm. He asked about the storm and then told us he was closing the park up and asked if we had seen anyone else in there. We said no and warned him he had maybe a minute or two before the storm hit with some wind and hail. The officer wanted to chat with us for a bit, but we were getting fidgety that we’d get cored if we hung around any longer. Finally he left to shut the gates and we were out of there just as the first few drops started to come down. We got out ahead of the gust front and headed south to get out of the storm's way before it fully hit.
We headed into George West, a stone’s throw from Corpus Christi and the gulf coast, for the night to get dinner at a local Mexican joint and a room. At the first hotel, the clerk shuffled out of the office in PJs and informed us that we’d have to use an ATM to get a room because their card reader was down. We weren’t impressed so we went across the street to the Holiday Inn and got a pretty nice room, although a spider was slowly chasing Brindley around the lobby as she talked to the clerk. We met up with Tony Laubach and traded stories from the day and grabbed some dinner at a local Mexican joint before calling it a night. The next day we started our long trek home, stopping at Enchanted Rock State Park to do some hiking and crashing in Waco for the night.


The end of our plains trip was a photogenic one with supercells and dust storms. We had chased an incredibly far distance for no tornadoes, but we had a blast and were happy we went. I wound up with some of my best time lapse sequences of the year from the event too.

Lessons Learned

Follow On The Web!
Storm Chasers Giving Back!

Webpage, graphics, photos, and videos © Skip Talbot or respective owner 2018. Skip's Webzone