May 30, 2021


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Roswell, NM
Pecos, TX 10:32 AM 5/30/2021
Hobbs, NM 10:18 PM 5/30/2021
Picacho, NM;
0 mph
Wall Cloud, Striations, RFD Gust Front, Gustnadoes


Upslope chase near Roswell, NM noting tornado warned HP supercell west and south of Roswell with large wall cloud, gustnadoes, and some low level rotation. Chased the storm until sunset with a striated structure show.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley Ubl, Anton Seimon, Tracie Seimon. Equipment: Sony AX100, Samsung S9, Photography courtesy Jennifer Brindley Ubl shooting on a Nikon D4s.




From my morning email to the group:

"Turtle keen on scooting northwest into NM, where param geeking indicates low level instability pooling in front off the high terrain. Models seem to be picking up on local crapvection activity with modest instability and some inhibition persisting through afternoon. Wondering if this stuff is modifying the profiles aloft just enough to cause problems. I like the axis of stronger jet level flow across southern NM too, perhaps giving us a bit of venting and some push to get stuff off the high terrain initiation points. Turtle looking at points w of Carlsbad to Roswell by mid/late afternoon. HRRR consistently showing a helicity track right on Pecos though, which is tough to drive away from. I'd like to say I have better forecast sense, but that would have definitely burned me yesterday with the HRRR nailing the CO storm while I pfffed at the midlevel flow questionable thermodynamics. "

Supercell over Mountains
Picacho, NM
3:21 PM
Brindley and I made our way to Roswell, NM from Pecos, TX after being down the previous day with vehicle repairs. After a couple stops for data, gas, and pictures with alien themed tourist traps, we saw initiation imminent in the mountainous terrain to the west. Anton and Tracie hadn’t caught up with us yet, having camped out away from us the previous night, but we didn’t want to miss the action so scrambled for the intercept. We took the west highway out of Roswell. The terrain was less than ideal, and we soon found ourselves on a winding mountain road struggling for views. A valley near the tiny town of Picacho, NM was our best bet. We pulled off with a supercell looming over the mountain to the west just as it picked up a tornado warning. The chase was suddenly very exciting, the view ominous. We waited to see if a tornado would appear over the top of the mountain, but a churning wall cloud and base did instead.

Wall Cloud and Beaver Tail
Picacho, NM
3:29 PM
The base with a thick beaver tail forming passed us to the south. We stayed until we started to get swamped by rain and hail from the forward flank. The winding mountain road took us in and out of the forward flank, but we were able to get ahead of the storm by a few miles. We found a perch on the highway and stopped to watch, Anton and Tracie finally catching up with us. The storm looked like it was transitioning into a high precipitation mode, and the structure was best when we first saw it. We left it and drove pretty much all the way back to Roswell until we had a south road to get back in front of the supercell that was turning hard right and now moving southeast.

Approaching Gust Front
6 miles W of Dexter, NM
5:23 PM
We waited for the storm south of Roswell, dramatic structure approaching from the west.

Bowl Shaped Lowering
6 miles W of Dexter, NM
5:26 PM
A bowl shaped lowering looked potentially tornadic in its appearance, but I don’t think it was actually rotating that strongly.

Supercell Wide Angle
6 miles W of Dexter, NM
5:45 PM
Wide angle shot showing the rear flank gust front, large wall cloud and inflow bands:

Wall Cloud and Vault
6 miles W of Dexter, NM
5:46 PM
A menacing looking base and cavernous vault in teal colors:

Approaching Wall Cloud
6 miles W of Dexter, NM
5:57 PM
We stayed, shooting video and timelapse until the base and hail were almost upon us. There was lots of roiling and churning motion, but nothing that looked distinctly tornadic yet.
Just as we left, gustnadoes spun-up to our south on the rear flank gust front.
The rear flank gust front started to move overhead as we scooted south. Tight low level rotation appeared nearly above us and we stopped to let it pass. A tornado was reported by other spotters or chasers at about this time. I thought perhaps the gustnado activity was associated with this rotation in the base, making it a tornado, but couldn’t verify that.

Striated Supercell
25 miles ENE of Artesia, NM
7:25 PM
We chased the storm east into the plains and noxious oil fields. We also had to deal with some large spikes from unidentified flora that had embedded in the tires after we pulled off the road. Fortunately they didn’t seem to go all the way through the rubber and we didn’t have any flats between the two vehicles. We watched the storm until sunset as the cap started to sculpt the storm into a striated but dying beauty. We called it and headed for Hobbs for the night.

Striated Supercell
25 miles ENE of Artesia, NM
7:25 PM

Striated Supercell
2 miles W of Loco Hills, NM
7:40 PM

Dying Sunset Storm
14 miles E of Artesia, NM
9:03 PM


We again missed tornadoes in Colorado, but our chase in New Mexico was productive, yielding a photogenic supercell that provided us with several video and timelapse sequences. It was another one of those potentially tornadic, brief dust whirl spin-up days, which seamed to be the theme of 2021 for us.

Lessons Learned

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