Home CHASE REPORTS 2011 2011.10.07 West TX and Eastern NM
Jun 25
2011.10.07 West TX and Eastern NM  E-mail
Sunday, 09 October 2011 20:17

This day promised to be the best opportunity for severe weather for the Texas South Plains and the plains of Eastern New Mexico we have had yet in 2011.  This is saying a lot when you consider this was now October!



A fairly strong upper level trough was approaching the area finally, after a significant period of being under the influence of the summer high pressure block, which brought an extended heat wave and drought throughout the entire summer.

This system had already been drawing Gulf moisture into the area, and while dewpoints weren't really high, some low 60s could be found in the area.  Wind fields where sufficient for supercell storms, and expected in increase in speeds after dark, increasing the tornado potential even more.  In addition, flooding rains from training storms were a welcomed prospect in this drought.  I was expecting a very long night. 



By 3 p.m. I was packing up and hitting the road.  Hand analysis showed the only real convergence was along a weak dryline in the Castro County area.  Convergence was needed if we were going to get any storms to pop prior to well after dark.   There was some better potential up in extreme Southwest Kansas, but I needed to remain in or near the area to cover the storms for KCBD NewsChannel 11.  I made the decision to head up to Lubbock and evaluate further.

I set up north of Shallowater a bit to watch the towering cumulous along the dryline.  This was the southernmost extend of any cumulous, and nothing further south or east due to the cap.  Eventually, this dissipated and I moved further north, ending up in Castro County at sunset watching what looked promising to form a storm.  Some storms had already formed north of Amarillo, and a Tornado Watch was already in place just north of me.

October 7, 2011 Storm Prediction Center Mesoscale Discussion

While I was in this area, I noticed some showers pop off along the dryline further south, which had now retreated further west just in to New Mexico.  Radar indicated these were growing fast, so I made the decision to head over to the Clovis area and meet them.  I decided that while the wind fields were a bit stronger the further north you go, they were also more parallel the further up in the atmospher you went, and I was concerned about them being able to maintain single cell structure long enough to form into a Supercell.  My thought was the ones further south stood a better chance of that, plus there was my coverage for the station as well.

By the time I reached the State Line at Farwell, a cluster of storms was really going at it with the lightning, and they had even issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for the complex.  The southermost storm caught my eye on the radar, as it appeared it might be taking on supercell characteristics, and being it was on the tail end, probably had the best chance.  While moving towards Clovis, and turning south toward Portales, lightning was getting pretty intense.  I wanted to stop and shoot photos, but I really wanted to get to the other storm, and estimated I'd probably meet it at Portales.

By the time I was coming in to Portales, it was starting to hail.  I saw a couple of reports of 1" hail, but I never saw or experienced anything larger than about half an inch.  I positioned myself to the west side of Portales to shoot some lightning photos from this storm. You can click on these images to see a larger version.

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I followed the storm up to Cannon AFB, but it was moving into an area I know is bad for roads, and I really didn't want to venture up there after dark.  After looking over the SPC Mesoanalysis parameters, I decided I really liked how things were stacking up to the south, down toward Lovington, NM  It was just after 10 p.m. CDT and it was getting about time for the upper level lift to start coming over the area.  I was hoping something else would pop up down there, so I made my way back to Clovis and Farwell where I gassed up, and then slightly back in to Texas and headed south.

By the time I reached southern Cochran County, a squall line began to rapidly extend southward from the storms up north.  I had seen no severe weather at this point, and realized my best shot at anything tonight was going to be lightning photography.  I was already pleased having caught the above images earlier, and was hoping for more.

I set up at several locations as I worked my way back north a bit and then east toward Whiteface and Levelland, TX.  I did manage to get a few more lightning strikes, but I was a little disappointed as one particular location I set up, which was having an incredible barrage of CG hits, and for some reason my camera kept shutting itself off! I know I missed some incredible shots there.

In the end, I worked my way back home in the rain, finally calling it a night past 3 a.m. after over 12 hours and nearly 500 miles of driving (I was never more than 120 miles from home!).  Below are the images I got from the second round. Click on them to see larger images!

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2011.10.07.lightning11  2011.10.07.lightning12

Last Updated on Sunday, 09 October 2011 21:35
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