MAY 22, 2014 CHASE LOG: TEXAS PANHANDLE
Written by Rich Hamel: (http://www.bostonstormchaser.com/)
Mostly a re-positioning day with a little chasing mixed in, and maybe even a nice surprise at the end. We left Denver with the idea of chasing the north side of the Raton Mesa, but by the time we were down there the small mountain storms to the west had already messed up the atmosphere, so we continued south towards our stop for the night in Amarillo, TX. We stopped in Dalhart, TX briefly to assess the line of storms to our west, but they all looked like junk, so we continued south. As we got into Hartley and approached the line of storms, we diverted east on Rt. 87 towards Dumas to take a look at the flying dirt kicked up by the gust front ahead of the line. After a few minutes, the line caught us and produced a large, persistent gustnado off to our west. Taking a look later at contrast enhanced pictures, I think this may have actually been a landspout tornado. It was under an area marked as rotating (and with a TVS) on radar, has a tall columnar look at least half way to cloud base, was long lasting and did not get shoved out by the front flank downdraft like a gustnado would have been, and occurred right at the point of a cell merger in progress. The only thing missing was a definitive funnel at cloud base. Hmmmm….
After that we headed back to Hartley and south to check out a new cell coming north, but it was nothing more than a rainmaker and we continued on, going through cell after cell as we got into Amarillo, where there was significant flash flooding.
All in all, not a successful chase day… or was it?? Either way, it was 444 miles for the day, putting us at 1619 for the tour.