Chase Log by David Reimer
We left Norman, Oklahoma heading west on Interstate 40 towards the Texas Panhandle. After driving for four hours we arrived in Amarillo. A storm was developing northwest of Hereford and was our target. Our route had us take Interstate 27 south to Canyon and then southwest on Highway 60 to Hereford. As usual we could start seeing the storm’s features a good 20 miles away and we arrived in Hereford around 4:30 PM. The storm was still about ten miles north of Hereford moving south/southeast. We positioned ourselves at the Walmart on the northern fringe of town. Dust was being kicked out by strong outflow winds along with a strengthening low level circulation. With the storm still in the development phase we were afforded the opportunity to watch it intensify for about ten minutes. We needed to move south through Hereford which was easier said than done. For a smaller town I must say the traffic was absolutely horrendous. The storm overtook us with blasting outflow winds and the occasional piece of hail. By the time we got south of town the low-level circulation had continued to intensify. Damaging winds over 60 MPH were produced in Hereford and they’re lucky a tornado didn’t drop in town. Strong winds were blowing dust all over the place below a strongly rotating wall cloud. Thanks to the obscene amount of traffic in Hereford we punched the edge of the circulation – right as a possible tornado was developing in the adjacent field. We could see a funnel cloud spinning right about us but with all the dust it was impossible to determine any ground contact. Our route took us south at the next intersection and out of the danger zone. As the storm continued to move southeast we stair stepped with it to Tulia. The storm continued to produce low-level circulations but we didn’t observe anything beyond a couple wall clouds. No doubt big-time hail was being produced but we had no interest in trying to play in the hail core. As the original storm became a high-precipitation supercell our attention was turned to a new storm going up about ten miles to our west. By this point we were 15 miles southeast of Tulia and the new storm was just east of town. The new storm had amazing storm structure and a rock-hard updraft. We moved west back towards the new storm and as we cleared the first storm’s cloud debris we were treated to amazing storm structure. We observed a funnel cloud from a distance but were unsure if it was actually a tornado. Storm chasers closer to it did confirm a very brief tornado. It was a pathetic thing that hardly kicked up any dust. By far the storm’s supercell structure was the catch of the day. We called the chase after the sun set and headed back to Norman. On the way home through Caprock Canyon the front-end of my car had a unpleasant encounter with fallen rocks. I’m happy I didn’t blow any tires but the encounter damaged at least one bearing and my power steering system.