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