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May 15 - Chase Day 1 - Messy & Dangerous Storms in North-Central Texas

Well, we have our first chase day under our belt this year … And it was a bittersweet chase.

We started the morning off in Norman, Oklahoma, grabbed some breakfast then headed southwest into Texas with a target of Vernon, Texas. When we woke up in the morning the Storm Prediction Center had issued a Slight Risk area and a 5% tornado risk for our target area. We reassessed a bit and headed to Electra, Texas. We then headed over to Seymour, Texas and played the waiting game. 

After about an hour and a half we saw towers going up to our east. We left Seymour and headed west to the cells and watched them grow before our eyes. Soon enough we were dealing with full blown supercells. Cells way to our north and way to our south were tornado warned and we knew the environment was conducive to tornadic supercells. 

Eventually the cell we were on became tornado warned and several times it developed interesting features. It was slightly disorganized which made visually identifying features difficult. The cells were also rapidly become rain- and hail-wrapped. 

We bailed south down a highway toward Decatur, Texas then northeast along another highway our of Decatur. We parked on top of a hill and watched the cell head in our direction. Things started to get interesting at that point and there was definitely a wall cloud developing. The issue? Rain and hail were starting to wrap around it so we headed south back to Decatur. From there we slowly headed east along the 380 … Slowly being the optimal word. We new the cell was drifting southeast and the circulating part of the storm was going to cross the highway. We did see another lowering area develop just to our northeast but it eventually faded. A tornado was reported twice on the cell we were on but it was difficult to say. There were some interesting features but were definitely not tornadoes so to the amateur-eye it may have looked like a tornado. Our cell tried and tried and tried but eventually it just couldn’t hold on anymore and we called it a day. We did meet up with Mark Robinson and Jaclyn Whittal on the side of the highway under the meso!

I’ve uploaded pictures to the photography page and am in the process of editing today’s video. I may not be able to get to it tonight since it’s almost midnight and we’re still a ways from the hotel.

All while this is happening, further to our cell, large, dangerous supercells were moving through towns west of Dallas-Fort Worth area then into the metropolitan area. We’re hearing preliminary reports of damage, deaths and possible mile-wide tornado. These reports are all preliminary and we’re hoping for the best but we’ve seen some damage and tornado pictures and it doesn’t look good. Images of damage and tornadoes coming out of Granbury, Cleburne and Rio Vista, Texas. 

Overall, in our neck of the woods, we had a successful first chase day. We’re now headed to Ardmore, Oklahoma to spend the night. We wanted to make it back to Oklahoma City but we’re pretty tired. Tomorrow’s target looks … far … from where we are. Based on tonight’s models perhaps a 6+ hour drive to target tomorrow. We’ll see how things progress.

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