Splitting Supercells and Incredible Structure in Texas 3-25-18

Although the next few weeks seem to be a bit quite in terms of severe weather in the plains, the season is off to a good start – at least from a photography perspective.  Last Sunday’s chase near Wichita Falls was more picturesque than we had initially envisioned. Texas did it again!

vault of the supercell

Earlier in the morning a Marginal Outlook had been issued by SPC for along the Red River. As the morning progressed, SPC updated it to a Slight Risk as the models came more in line with each other indicating the development of a supercell or two around 4pm.

outlook am

We started off positioning on the warm front in Ryan, OK waiting for the cap to break. The Red River only has a few crossings between TX and OK and we wanted to be close to both sides of the river depending on where a storm fired.  The afternoon was hot, muggy and beautiful.

outlook

 

Enjoying the sunshine in March is always appreciated.  A few CU towers started bubbling up enough to have us leave Ryan and park at the gas station in Waurika, OK north of us. As is typical when the environment is still capped- the cu towers went up and then settled down again and did nothing.  More waiting.  We could see on surface analysis and within the clouds themselves that the warm front had moved north into OK and then draped back SW towards Wichita Falls, TX. Our finally  patience paid off.  Although Radar Scope was having a delay with their feed for most of the day by about 15min, a substantial echo appeared near Wichita Falls. Screenshot_20180325-174542

We left Waurika and headed SW. Intercepting our storm as it was in the process of splitting. [For detailed information about storm splitting check out this link from NOAA]

We intercepted at Jolly, TX. left split Here’s the view of the base of the left split as we headed SW to Jolly.  The storm split was evident on Satellite, radar and visually. When storms split (typically a straight line hodograph) if the right split can survive and maintain a large updraft, that is the storm to target.  Below is the image from visible satellite. We like to use the College of Dupage’s weather resources: http://weather.cod.edu/

Here is the split on both Radar reflectivity  and velocity and visible satellite:

It is so cool watching storms evolve. As the left split flew off to the north after producing an interesting looking microburst… ( only downward motion, not a funnel – localized strong winds though)microburst.jpg

our storm by Jolly, TX got organized, slowly putted eastward and began to acquire fantastic structure…

right split

We went north of Henrietta, TX briefly as the wall cloud had some interesting motion in it for a while and a nice clear slot began to punch in. However the storm just couldn’t quite rotate well enough at the low levels to produce a tornado. Nevertheless the structure was incredible. We followed it east.

Here are these two views near Ringgold, TX:

Ringgold TX.jpg

At this time, the storm started to have an ominous-looking shelf-like curtain at the base. It didn’t appear that a tornado would be likely with this occlusion either and the storm was transitioning in to more of an HP as it moved southeast. Here is a panorama of the base as we dropped south of Terral, TX on HWY 81:

pano.jpg

Finally here is the sheared over updraft and at sunset near Monteague, Texas: Look at how sheared over the anvil is and how the inflow band extends for miles ahead of the storm.

Structure updraft.jpg

An excellent chase! Definitely one of our top 10 best structure days!  -LF

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