All original images (C) Steve Douglass unless otherwise noted.

All original images (C) Steve Douglass unless otherwise noted. Permission required for commercial use or publishing.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

First Severe Weather Event Last Night.

We had our first severe weather event last night.

Big storms fired up in New Mexico and slowly made their way into the Texas Panhandle.

Around 9:00 PM a big cell shot up (within minutes) just west of town near Bushland, Texas.

Since we were expecting severe weather, I had already put all my gear in my car so when the call came for spotters to go into the field and watch the storm to our west/northwest, I was all set to go.

I phoned my friend John Madden who hadn't been on a storm chase yet ( and was standing by) and told him I'd pick him up in five.

Since the storms were such slow movers we thought we had plenty of time to get into position, but we had barely gotten on the road when the NOAA weather radio went off.

A tornado was indicated by radar just NW of the city and there were several citizen reports of a rope tornado near the town of Wildorado.

I called my "Nowcaster" Dale Stanton who was reading the weather radar for me and he said it would probably clip the NW side of the city (where my daughter Jennifer and grandkids live) so we put it in high gear, sped around loop to the NW side of town to "the spot" on Brickplant Road.

As we traveled north, the lightning to our west was amazing, but since we were in a active tornado warning, I could not stop to shoot it. I just hoped that by the time we got to our overlook on the hill it would still be booming and zooming.

I called and warned my daughter and she took the kids to our place in town. She told me later that the kids were grumbling that they had to be yanked out of bed and she said , "So next time I shouldn't wake you and just let the tornado get us huh?"

They didn't have a comeback other than "Oh noooo!"

And then it happened -- nothing. The storm died in a matter of minutes.

Both John and I set up our cameras to try and capture the few remaining bolts, but they were far and few between or stayed high in the clouds and only dimly lit up the sky.

Oh well, sometime you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.

The EOC released us just before 11:00 PM and we chatted amiably as we headed back into town.

Not much to show for our efforts but they promise more big storms today, a daytime severe event which should be much more photogenic. Stay tuned.


Special thanks to Dale Stanton. His excellent Nowcasting kept us out of trouble and put us right where we needed to be.

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