THE BILLION DOLLAR HAIL STORM
Date: 11 April 2016
- Chaser: David Reimer
- Location: began near Newport and Alvord before ending the chase just west of Denton, TX
Ended up heading south on I-35 from Norman to the Sanger Love’s late morning and arrived shortly after 1 PM. Sat there for about 30 minutes until it became apparent the supercell firing up southeast of Wichita Falls was going to be ‘the storm’. Convoyed west with Stephen Jones and Jason Cooley west on 380 to Decatur and north on 287 to Alvord. The storm was showing a deviant motion to the right with southeastward movement. The initial plan was to go west out of Bowie but I elected to take FM2265 and FM2127 to just southeast of Newport. Made it within 3 miles of town when I pulled off and filmed a rotating wall cloud just to my west. Filmed for about two minutes before approaching precipitation made me bail back the way I came to Alvord. Storm showed various signs of organization as I made the 10-minute drive back to Alvord. Other chasers reported a brief tornado but I’m not able to confirm anything from my vantage point. The storm was becoming outflow driven with very large hail as it hit 287 between Sunset and Bowie. I quickly filled up in Alvord as the 50 MPH outflow winds hit. From there I drove south on 287 to 380 in Decatur and went east. The storm continued southeast at about 30 MPH and allowed for a good view looking north from 380. Things got interesting as I approached the Wise/Denton county line. The storm pushed out a strong RFD and become a major straight-wind producer in addition to the 3+ inch hail being reported. Even moving at 60 MPH the wind-driven hail curtains were keeping pace with me. I eventually took shelter under Highway 380 in the median of Highway 156 in Krum with about two dozen other vehicles. I witnessed a barrage of quarter to golf ball size hail fall as the meaty hook of the storm passed overhead. Since the storm was elevated and outflow-dominant I wasn’t worried about a tornado issue. Had there been a tornado threat I definitely would not have let the hook pass overhead. I let the hail pass on and edited video on at 380/156 as the storm pushed into the D/FW Metroplex. That same storm would go on to produce softball size hail in Wylie, TX about 45 minutes later. Weak low-level wind shear and an overall messy setup kept my expectations low for the chase. Considering I almost witnessed a tornado at close range and saw cool storm structure I was pleased.
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