May 5, 2015

Big Spring, TX

This was one of those chase days that makes all of those cap busts and disappointing chases worthwhile. The setup had been looking decent for tornadic supercells from West Texas through the Panhandle, and we woke up after a night in Big Spring, Texas, targeting the Snyder area. Specifically, I chose the town of Gail as my pick. However, by mid-morning things were looking bleak; lapse rates were abysmal and, to walk outside, the air was cool and damp. It just didn’t feel like a storm day.

Then, a mesoscale miracle (aka a mesoscale accident) happened. An outflow boundary from morning showers interacted with a weak dryline, establishing a quasi-triple point just north of Big Spring. A pinch point developed, initiating tower after tower until, finally, one took off. We sat underneath the storm as it matured and became a supercell, with screaming inflow winds, banding features and a textbook-perfect, rapidly rotating wall cloud.

We were perfectly positioned as the RFD wrapped around the base of the storm, slicing a beautiful cut through the wall cloud. Suddenly a plume of dusty debris began swirling below, and we had our tornado! For the next twenty minutes we watched as the tornado morphed from a large dust-whirl to a beautiful white cone. This was easily amongst the most photogenic tornadoes you could ever hope for.