Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day #9 (Chase day): May 28, 2013
Starting point: Hutchinson, Kansas
Ending point: Amarillo, Texas
Mileage Traveled: 538 (Trip Total: 4689)

We started our day in Hutchinson, Kansas. There was a very large area that was under the threat of severe weather; our forecast was to head towards the Woodward, Oklahoma area. This area was selected because there was a good amount of shear along with high CAPE values in this area. CAPE is the amount of instability in the atmosphere.  There was a jet streak (fast upper level winds) that was located in this area with short wave troughs extending into this area.  A dry line was also located to the west and heading to the east. All of these ingredients set up for the formation of supercell activity.

On our drive out to Woodward we drove through Greenberg, Kansas to look at the progress that the city has made since a devastating EF5 tornado in 2007. The city had rebuilt into a green city, with wind turbines, solar panels, and new green building. In addition to the green rebuilding efforts, the city has been using green landscaping techniques to utilize reduced water consumption.

While eating lunch in Woodward, we noticed a couple cells developing to the west and northwest of town. These cells were heading on a north-northeast path and continued to build on the back side of the line of storms. We chased these cells toward Beaver, Oklahoma, as we watched the storm we could tell it was rotating and there was a tornado warning issued for this storm. As we approached the storm we saw a wall cloud that was starting to form. A wall cloud is a lowering that occurs under the thunderstorm due to the storm's rotation. This storm began to fall apart as it moved off to the northwest. We then decided to drop to the south and chase another line of supercells that began to develop. The supercells were off the the southwest of Amarillo, Texas. As we got closer to the storms we began to lose daylight, and our chasing was done for the day.

We decided to stay in Amarillo to set us up for a the next day. We were still keeping an eye on the storm that was out to the west of Amarillo. The storm was strengthening as it moved toward the city, the storm was moving slow only at about 15 mph and as it started to approach the city its speed increased to 25 to 30 mph.  We decided it was best for us to drop to the south to get a better view of the storm.  We watch the storm pass through the Amarillo area, and when the storm was all clear we headed back to our hotel for the night.

Due to the late night we had we are hanging out in Amarillo until around noon and then we will move towards the Shamrock, Texas area to wait for the storms to develop.

Picture below by Andy Courtney of one of the storms near Beaver, Oklahoma.

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