Back to back chase days following the successful chase in southwest Oklahoma the day before didn’t leave much time to rest. But with a ‘Moderate’ risk of severe weather and the target area very close to home, how could I not chase on my own home turf? No tornadoes occurred within north Texas on March 19, but I did capture some rather beautiful shelf cloud formations.
The Storm Prediction Center issued a ‘Moderate’ risk of severe thunderstorms along the I-35 corridor in Texas from San Antonio through Dallas, and up into the Ouachita Mountain region of southeast Oklahoma. Primary hazards would be both very large hail and high straight line winds due to expected linear storm mode. However isolated supercell development ahead of the squall line was possible, and this prompted the 10% tornado risk area as well.
|Tornado Probabilities||Svr Hail Probabilities||Svr Wind Probabilities|
A large line of convection had developed overnight across the TX panhandle as a result of the same upper level trough that helped develop the tornadic supercell I observed in Oklahoma the day before. This line of storms was moving eastward fairly slowly during the midday hours, but remained west of I-35 in Texas. Using the RUC computer model I figured some isolated supercells may begin to develop ahead of this line of storms by 3pm across Hood and Somervell counties in Texas, just to the southwest of the D/FW Metroplex.
Around 1pm I left my home in Irving and drove an hour southwest to Alvorado TX arriving just before 2pm. This position afforded me easy road options in all 4 directions should anything develop, and some extra time to re-evaluate computer models.
By 2:26pm CDT a developing supercell was embedded within this line moving northeast at nearly 50 knots.
After watching this supercell continue to persist while embedded within this line, and seeing computer models become less optimistic about supercells developing ahead of the line in north Texas, at 2:49pm CDT I left Alvorado and drove north to attempt an intercept of this supercell near Gainesville, TX.
I arrived at the Gainesville Airport at 4:16pm, right as the storm was arriving. The storm lost it’s supercellular characteristics and seemed more likely a straight line wind event. Seeing the storm visually helped confirm this, as a large shelf cloud had developed along the leading edge of the storm cell. It was very unlikely that a tornado would develop in this environment, but a straight line wind risk was much more likely.
|Radar at 4:17pm CDT. My location at the Gainesville Airport indicated by red square.||The storm’s appearance at 4:17pm CDT when I arrived. This is looking due west at the approaching shelf cloud.|
I shot some video of the shelf cloud’s approach to the airport as well, which I speed up to 10x. Winds gusted up to 40mph as measured with my handheld Kestrel 4500NV anemometer when the shelf cloud passed. In the video, dirt and sand is blown across and over a nearby warehouse building with the high winds, as well as some rotating clouds directly over my head.
After the shelf cloud passed and radar imagery indicated the storm was no longer tornadic, I decided to head back south toward my home to stay infront of the shelf cloud and maybe pick up some high straight line winds close to home.
|Radar at 4:58pm CDT. My location indicated by small red square north of Denton.||The road with a view… which was actually called View Rd. Looking due west, Sanger TX 4:56pm CDT.|
I drove back to D/FW only a few miles from my home, and captured my favorite photo of the day in Coppell just 3 miles north of D/FW airport.
An aircraft making a landing only minutes before this large low shelf cloud passes the airport, bringing high straight line winds. I would have loved to of been on that aircraft with this view, but probably gave the passengers on board a fright.
At 6:30pm I ended the chase and returned home, which at the time was only 5 miles away from my position. No tornadoes occurred in north Texas this day, and a handful of severe hail and wind reports came in. Some tornadic storms did develop in south Texas near San Antonio, including one that did do damage on the southern part of San Antonio. The Dominator crew actually left south out of Alvorado and was able to capture that night time tornado on video.
I don’t consider the day a failure on my part as an amateur forecaster, as no tornadoes formed in my target area and I didn’t have to drive an excessive distance to see these storms.