May 25, 2014


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Hobbs, NM
Fort Sumner, NM 10:14 AM 5/25/2014
Hobbs, NM 5:47 PM 5/25/2014
Hobbs, NM
0 mph
Elevated supercell updraft, Anvil


High plains/upslope chase in southeast New Mexico. Targeted Hobbs for afternoon storm initiation on converging outflow boundaries. Watched several turkey tower failed attempts before calling it a chase by later afternoon. Went back out after dinner as high based and elevated supercell went up west of Hobbs, noting gorgeous sunset structure.

Crew and Equipment

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




My fifth chase day with Jennifer Brindley Ubl chasing upslope storms in the high plains, we awoke in Fort Sumner, NM and made our way due south with an initial target between Hobbs, NM and Carlsbad, NM. There appeared to be a converging point between a couple of outflow boundaries there indicated on the visual satellite imagery and towering cumulus were going up by noon.

Turkey Towers
37 miles WSW of Hobbs, NM
2:17 PM
We took the highway southwest out of Hobbs stopping just off the road to watch some turkey towers going up. The updrafts looked promising but none of them could last very long. We watched a few updrafts go up and then die, probably being choked off by residual capping.
The only other play looked to be down on the Rio Grande in southwest Texas. That was out of reach for us by early afternoon and we didn't want to deal with the lack of roads and hilly terrain down there. We decided to go for a hike instead while watching the convection all around us.
Brindley and I hiked through the bright red sands and blue green brush of southeast New Mexico spotting dozens of scurrying lizards, a dung beetle rolling a big ball of dinner with a freeloading friend, some birds of prey, and a jack rabbit with huge ears and an ugly face.

Hobbs, NM
5:50 PM
By late afternoon, none of the turkey towers were able to maintain their updrafts. We watched more than a half dozen failed attempts at storm initiation. The cap was forecast to fill back in, which would kill the chances for surface based storms. The cumulus field thinned out to almost clear skies, so we decided to call it a chase. We made our way back to the highway and headed into Hobbs to get a room and a couple margaritas. We found a cute, funky motel called the Sands on the east side of town, just our style. We emptied the van, unloading all of our gear and cameras. It took us four different Mexican restaurants before we found one that had margaritas, however.

Surprise Storm
Hobbs, NM
7:57 PM
Our buddy and fellow chaser, Victor Gensini was leading College of DuPage Trip 3. The group was chasing down in southwest in Texas, but was on their way to Hobbs for the night. We were trying to coordinate meeting up with them for dinner when a storm exploded just east of Carlsbad, near the same convergence point we had been chasing all day. We all decided to go after the storm. Our gear, however, was in the motel room. Not wanting to miss the storm driving across town and reloading the van, we decided to go after the storm basically naked equipment wise. The only thing we had was Brindley's iphone. The visibility was amazing, the air clear and all the low clouds gone. We could see the storm perfectly from more than thirty miles away from Hobbs, so we really didn't any equipment other than our eyes.

Gorgeous High Base
37 miles WSW of Hobbs, NM
8:21 PM
We caught up with the two vans of CoD Trip 3 at the exact same spot we had been waiting all day for storms earlier in the day. With the cap filling back in, the storm was partially elevated above the boundary layer and also very high based. It was absolutely gorgeous though. A brilliant white anvil stretched overhead, with bubbling convection in the updraft tower, and a beautifully textured and contrasted updrafted base with a dramatic precipitation core. The low light lit up the storms in shades of steely blue and golden yellow. It broke my heart to see such a gorgeous storm and not being able to shoot it with my cameras or time lapse it. I forced myself to just watch the storm with my eyes though, taking in the experience with my senses rather than all the electronics that I'm normally using.

iPhone Pano
37 miles WSW of Hobbs, NM
8:42 PM
It was actually quite liberating standing in front of the storm and not worry about cameras, radar, or any of the other distractions. Brindley snagged a few photos with her iphone for our memories and the log. We hung out with the students and chasers of Trip 3, including Dan Cook, whom I hadn't seen or chased with since 2006. The storm eventually fell apart and lost its gorgous coloring, structure, and bubbling convection as the sun went down and dusk set in. We headed back into Hobbs with a few other groups of chasers that had converged on the storm.
We met up with Victor and Trip 3 at the Applebee's. Our group of about 20 completely overwhelmed the restaurant though. It took a couple hours for everyone to get their food, and dozens of minutes went by between drink orders, while the bartender stood idly by, unapologetic and refusing to help since it wasn't part of his duties. Afterwards, just Victor, Brindley, and I went across the lot to Buffalo Wild Wings to get a beer. I put in an order of fries, and it never came out even after we reminded the waitress twice. Service is apparently not one of Hobbs' specialities. Back at the motel, our key card didn't work and the office was closed up. I was able to pop the screen off and climb in through the window to get into the room, however. We'd be leaving the rat hole known as Hobbs with a less than stellar impression.


It saddened me not being able to shoot our gorgeous catch, but Brindley was able to get a few shots of the storm on her phone, and the CoD Trip 3 chasers got video and time lapsed shots from the same position so we have those to remember the chase by too. Tornadoes were a no show in New Mexico, with only a few brief, and rain wrapped ones down in southwest Texas that were difficult to chase. Our gorgeous but elevated storm west of Hobbs wound up being the photogenic catch of the day.

Lessons Learned

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