Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The VORTEX2 crew had a very successful deployment today on a slow-moving HP (high precipitation) supercell in the Texas panhandle in and around Dumas! Teams gathered data on multiple tornadoes spawned by this beast of a storm which had an extensive hail core approaching 80 dBZ! We shared the road with literally HUNDREDS of amateur chasers in a region with a subpar road network, which resulted in traffic for miles along rural farm-to-market roads. After most teams got stuck to the point they could no longer get ahead of the storm, official V2 operations were called off. The CSWR crew, however, had already fled to the south then east then north as most teams observed the (as of current knowledge) longest-lived tornado produced by that storm. Many of those teams also got damaged by hail, however, and CSWR was able to pull off a final nighttime deployment which included (essentially) blind pod deployments. Because it was dark the pod teams had no visual on the tornado, so we completely relied on DOW-7 and DOW-6 to keep us away from the tornado that Josh was observing from the radar.
Our crew did have the earliest sighting of a tornado from the storm, however, as we fled south from an area that was starting to receive heavy precipitation as the rotation became rain-wrapped. The tornado touched down for a few seconds before retreating. Prior to that I also had visual on a very brief rope-like protrusion from the rotation, but in my excitement I didn't get any photos of it--this is a shame because it sounds like most people did not notice this feature, so I may never know if it was a figment of my imagination. At our second location the rotation of the mesocyclone was still very broad with a beautiful green color in the center due to the large hail. As we were standing under it Tim Marshall called in a report of a multiple-vortex tornado that the rest of us did not have visual on. Due to this and another called-in report of a funnel cloud, we were told to deploy pods in 70 mph westerly winds...not only was this a waste of resources, but my clothes are still wet.
During our ferry away from the hail core/tornado? the storm "cycled" and produced a new meso with a much less broad wall cloud. We continued moving to get ahead of the storm as the longer-lasting tornado was reported, leaving the amateur chasers in the dust (with baseball-sized hail). Then, with only CSWR left behind, we prepared for our own tornado-scale deployment, which was fairly successful in and of itself.
I've also filled up a photo album, check it out!