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May 26 - HP Supercell & Bad Terrain

Hello (again) from Wichita Falls, TX!

We could have just left our stuff in the room instead of checking out this morning... We started the day off right here in Wichita Falls, TX. We were in a SLIGHT risk and 5% tornado risk as issued by the Storm Prediction Center. We repositioned a little bit further west toward Vernon, TX and had some lunch deciding that the better environment for storms would be south of the Red River on the Texas side, not the Oklahoma side.

Storms started to pop up and one in particular became very interesting just west of Breckenridge, TX. We started making our way down there. Storms had a lot of CAPE (convective available potential energy) to work with so their development was quite explosive. Unfortunately several storms erupted at once. There was one main storm that was clearly the one of interest but given the poor road network in the area and the bad terrain, it was difficult for us to get on it. As we approached it making our way around it along highway 16 we were seeing images of a very nice wall cloud.

It started to become very evident that this was awful storm chasing terrain. The roads were very windy with a lot of hills and valleys not to mentioned trees and ridges. We could make out the wall cloud on the storm but could not see the ground. We did see inklings of a funnel cloud but again could not confirm if it was on the ground. Eventually, massive amounts of rain and hail started to wrap into the storm. At one point, trying to find ANY good vantage point (which we didn't), we were able to look back toward the storm and see a very defined left and right side of what looked like a tornado back in the rain. Unfortunately, none of us were able to get an image of this. When this occurred we were on a road that lead into Possum Kingdom State Park.

Later we would see images from storm chasers that were closer to the storm and their tornado images looked very much like what we were looking back at as we were driving. What was occurring now was the storm would spit out an outflow boundary then "ride" its outflow boundary south. This caused it to form mesocyclone after mesocyclone in a pinwheel like effect. Effectively this meant the storm just kept diving south and diving south. We positioned ourselves in the town of Tolar, TX with a perfect hail shelter and waited to get cored. Well, of course, as is the case whenever you have a perfect storm shelter, the core dissipated. New photographs added here.

At this point we decided to continue south toward the town of Stephenville, TX. Here we would grab a bite to eat at the Hard 8 BBQ Pit (awesome joint) and ride out the storm then head back to our hotel for the night. Interestingly enough, while we were having dinner, the storm formed yet another mesocyclone basically right over top of us. Lucky for us and those at the restaurant, all it had to offer was strong winds, a lot of rain, and small hail... no tornado.

Our position at dinner in Stephenville, TX with meso moving through.

We started our journey back north to Wichita Falls, TX which involved driving through these storms. The rain was torrential and there was pea to marble size hail. We were treated to an incredible lightning show with strikes coming within 30 feet of the vehicle. At one point, lightning struck a transformer near by, we saw it blow and all the lights in the town went out. Cool to see! 

We're back in the hotel and assessing for tomorrow. There is another SLIGHT risk further north into Oklahoma or extreme southern Kansas for a target.

The Storm Prediction Center's thunderstorm risk for tomorrow (Wednesday).