Saturday, May 23, 2015

Recap of last 3 days

A long over due update for the last three days...

Day 4: Thursday, May 21, 2015
Non-chase day visited Carlsbad Caverns and Roswell New Mexico
Beginning City: Fort Stockton, Texas
Ending City: Roswell, New Mexico
Total Miles Traveled: 274 miles for the day, 1987 for the trip

There were no storms to chase so we took a leisurely drive towards Roswell, New Mexico for the evening. This was to set ourselves up to chase along the Texas, New Mexico border the following day. On the way to Roswell we passed through Carlsbad, New Mexico and decided to take the tour of the caverns. The students enjoyed the time out of the vehicle and making the trek through the caverns.

Some of the students walking down the steep path through the main entrance to Carlsbad Caverns.

Day 5: Friday, May 22, 2015
Chase day along SE New Mexico/SW Texas border into Fort Stockton area
Beginning City: Roswell, New Mexico
Ending City: Lubbock, Texas
Total Miles Traveled: 432 miles for the day, 2419 for the trip

Written by Jeremy Buck and Grant Francis

The forecast was favorable for supercells in both southwestern Texas as well as eastern Colorado, but the former was far closer to us. We took off from Roswell, New Mexico, and decided to head southwest towards the town of Kermit, Texas. The town was just north of a dryline bulge which typically provides favorable conditions for strengthening storms. Our drive through New Mexico was riddled with mist and fog.

Once arriving in Kermit, we waited for the storms to begin firing by relaxing at a city park and throwing around a football. After noticing a few cells had fired up to the south towards Fort Stockton, we geared up and went after them, with the nearest cell showing a gorgeous updraft and a textbook example of an anvil cloud. Unfortunately, the cells dissipated and began falling apart just as we arrived. Before leaving though, we took several photos of the anvil and were also treated to a small display of mammatus clouds. On our drive to our hotel, we got many terrific photos as the setting sun shone against the bottoms of the clouds. After a long drive, we settled down in Lubbock, Texas, for the night in preparation for tomorrow's chase.

The setting sun reflects off the remnants of the anvil from the storms we were chasing near Fort Stockton, Texas.Photo by Grant Francis.

The sun sets and highlights the back side of the updraft core on the storms we were chasing near Fort Stockton, Texas. Photo by Grant Francis.

Day 6: Saturday, May 23, 2015
Chase Day near Lamar, Colorado
Beginning City: Lubbock, Texas
Ending City: Guymon, Oklahoma
Total Miles Traveled: 601 for the day, 3020 for the trip

Written by Chloe Rehberg and Jacob Strohm

This day was the most exciting day we have experienced so far on the trip. During our morning forecast discussion we highlighted two main areas: Texas and eastern Colorado. Our team opted to chase the eastern Colorado region as we thought the conditions were slightly more favorable for isolated storms. This area typically experiences broad cyclonic rotation due to the Rocky Mountains to the west. Our original target city was Eads, Colorado which was approximately six hours from Lubbock.

The storms initiating just before we arrived in the region. As we got to the city of Lamar, numerous severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for the storms off to the west. One of these storms, which was headed towards La Junta, Colorado, also had a tornado warning issued for it. Though the warnings expired, the storms continued to build to the south before merging into a line of storms. As we approached the storm, we witnessed many areas of rotation and lowering which given the right conditions could develop tornadoes. The roads were very crowded with other chasers. We continued tracking the line of storms focusing on the southern end. We stopped numerous times to watch rotation in clouds near us.

The challenge with these types of storms is staying away from the precipitation core, so that you don't get wet or hail. We continued to drift east and south to stay out in front of the storm to watch it, and the rotation seemed to calm down. After some time, some isolated cells to the south converged with the line that had developed. This seemed to strengthen the southern end once again and we continued to follow areas of rotation south of Lamar, Colorado. At one point the outflow from the storm became really strong and caused some dust from a near by field to obstruct the road we were traveling. We were able to stay out in front of the winds after that. New developments kept popping up on the south end of the line, so we followed it to take pictures for a while and finally headed to Guymon, Oklahoma for the night.

Precipitation core behind the leading edge of line of storms near Lamar, Colorado. Photo by Chloe Rehberg.

Dr. Frye watches the storms approach us west of Lamar, Colorado. There was a slight lowering just a above the chasers on the right. Photo by Chloe Rehberg.

A lowering from the storm near La Junta, Colorado. Photo by Jacob Strohm.

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