May 23, 2018 Picacho, NM Cone Tornado

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Ahhhh New Mexico…The state that most chasers hate xD New Mexico is beautiful, but has almost no roads and awful cellphone service. It’s old school storm chasing to say the least and dirt/mud roads everywhere. The state gets about a dozen tornadoes a year, so when you get the chance to see a large tornado up close, it’s a win!

18Z surface analysis

Was not expecting too much out of this day. We woke up in Roswell and had a nice breakfast. Then we went back to our hotel to do some surface analysis. To spare you the trouble, a trough was going to be present with an area of low pressure near the TX/NM border. This trough was hopefully going to trigger thunderstorms aided by orographic lift. I think there was only a marginal risk by the SPC. 83F/63F was not that bad, but it certainly meant isolated storms. Modest instability and low shear kind of day.

A lone supercell developed fairly early in the afternoon and went severe fast. I was expecting it to move, but it was nearly stationary. We started moving toward it (~20mins drive). Once we got on some farm roads with no data, we saw this:

I called the NWS Albuquerque, NM office and they just couldn’t believe it. They said ‘are you sure?’. Pretty sure hahaah:

The tornado had the classic waterfall roar, it was pretty close and fairly violent (maybe 100-200 metres). This was classified as an EFU for EF-unknown since the area where the tornado touched down is not accessible, but I estimate it to be at least EF1, possibly low-end EF2. We observed it for a good 10-15mins before it roped out:

Another storm started developing to the south and headed toward us. With only one road in/out, we started to move not to get stuck on the road. This storm also had some bigger hail on it. Once we got on top of a hill, we stopped since I had cellphone coverage. We observed another tornado in the distance. I called the NWS office again and they didn’t believe it! I tried to send a picture to them, but considering how far we were, it did not turn out very well. Both tornadoes ended up being official reports 🙂

Happy to have done our duty as spotters, but also happy we saw an awesome and violent tornado in the middle of nowhere!

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