Following The Weather Channel Tornado Hunt 2013

May 2/3 - Winter Storm Takes Over and Shuts Down Convective Storm Chasing

By: TWCTornadoHunt, 3:02 AM GMT on May 05, 2013

The previous evening was the last of the storm chasing as the powerhouse winter storm pushing across the Plains and Midwest ushered its cold front through the North Texas area with temperatures dropping some 40 degrees. Morning rain with an occasional snowflake and a temperature of 43F greeted the team as they left Wichita Falls, TX headed for the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Based on the forecast for the next five to seven days there was little or no chance of convective weather throughout the Plains region from North Dakota to Texas. It was decided that the team would take a break with members flying back to their respective home bases in Atlanta, New York, Houston and Chicago while parking the trucks in Ft. Worth on Friday, May 3. On a positive note, the team was able to meet and interview with the City of Arlington Emergency Management office on Friday morning. Discussed was the city's outdoor sirens and policy and their life-saving practice of their usage during the April 3, 2012 tornado that struck the city with considerable damage, compelling images that many saw on TV of semi-trailers being tossed in the air, and most importantly the zero deaths that occurred. 
The team plans to be back in Texas/the Plains next week so stay tuned!

Updated: 3:03 AM GMT on May 05, 2013


May 1 -- Finally Some Action Along the Red River of the South

By: TWCTornadoHunt, 11:04 PM GMT on May 02, 2013

After two days of seeing sunny skies and a few puffy cumulus clouds, the team finally encountered what was desired from the get go. A long trip from Junction City, KS to somewhere in NW Texas meant "wheels up" around 7am in Kansas to get to our destination. The cold front as part of Winter Storm Achilles was just south of Junction City as we encountered temperatures in the 40s. The drive south to Wichita along I-135 brought us south of the boundary with fahrenheit readings into the 70s. 

By late afternoon, we arrived to the Wichita Falls, Texas area and analyzed the current situ seeing the cold front/dry line intersection just 30 miles or so west. Storms had begun to fire. Instability was impressive, but the upper level winds/shear was pretty much non-existent thus no tornadoes expected. We had hoped for at least some thunderstorms with hail and gusty winds and some picturesque views good for the TV and online viewers. Storms were very slow-moving which was optimal for positioning and showing the audience across all platforms (TV, online, social media, live web-casting, etc). Monitoring the NWS Chat window of the NWS Norman OK office along with chaser networks revealed various reports and severe thunderstorm warnings issued due to large hail. Reports of quarter size to near golf ball hail was commonplace. We maintained our vantage view in the perfect spot to the southeast of the storms. What perhaps was the most impressive and interesting phenomenon of the chase was the sound of the thunder rumbling across the Plains of Wichita county, Texas and across the Red River in Tillman County, Oklahoma. It had a sound and feel like cannonball fire you would experience at a Civil War reenactment. Even a deep base feel to it --- we were impressed. 

It was a good chase considering the atmospheric situation not conducive to tornadoes, but that is not a bad thing, either, as no worries of damage or destruction to the area. 

It is definitely worth noting that it was 88F at our location while watching the storms and jut 30-50 miles away across the cold front it was in the 50s. Upon waking up the next morning after the chase, it was 43F and raining with a very brief period of rain/snow in Wichita Falls, Texas.  Well to the north across southeastern Minnesota, the storm was producing snowfall of 12-18" in some spots! 

Updated: 2:45 AM GMT on May 05, 2013


April 30 -- More Sun and a few Cumulus Clouds

By: TWCTornadoHunt, 10:16 PM GMT on May 02, 2013

The Tornado Hunt project departed the greater Kansas City area hoping for maybe seeing a few storms develop across northern Kansas thus the GPS set for Salina/Junction City area and then make a decision based on afternoon situation. By 2-3pm, the team made the call to head north off I-70 into north eastern Kansas north of Junction City and watched slow development of clouds and weak development of very sparse rain-producing clouds in the distance. Another frustrating but somewhat expected lack of storms to form. We even hoped for some average thunderstorms to at least wet down the farmers fields in the area. The highlight was actually watching (and listening) to the nearby Ft. Riley training area where Apache helicopters were firing rounds at targes well into the distance. Never heard that sound before so we were all impressed. We turned back south and called it a day and had eyes on Texas for Wednesday. We knew to the north the front was approaching with not so much thunderstorms but a winter storm event moving into the Plains/Midwest for the next day. This was just not matching up to the calendar saying it was May 1.

Storm Chasing

Updated: 2:45 AM GMT on May 05, 2013


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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Following The Weather Channel Tornado Hunt 2013

About TWCTornadoHunt

The Tornado Hunt team comprised of meteorologists, a producer, radio and video engineers and a cameraman (photog) on quest to hunt down tornadoes.

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