May 7, 2005

After what had been a chilly spring, the southern Plains were finally going to have an opportunity for severe weather the first full weekend of the month. The hope today was convergence along a dryline mixing eastward through the Texas panhandle would generate a few storms there today. Strong southwest winds aloft would provide enough shear for supercells, although weak winds near the surface and especially limited moisture would limit the tornado threat. As had been the case for most of the spring, we have had a hard time getting decent moisture in the Plains as we got repeated intrusions of Canadian air to flow over the Gulf throughout the month. The previous Canadian air intrusion earlier in the week brought cold enough air to the Texas panhandle that widespread heavy snow fell across the region! So dewpoints out ahead of the dryline would struggle to make it to 60F today. But with the aforementioned shear, the expectation would at the very least be to see some photogenic LP supercells.

After leaving work, I briefly looked at data, then at 3pm headed west on I-40 towards the Texas panhandle. Thick stratiform cloudiness and light drizzle had developed across much of western Oklahoma, so we would be seeing a narrow window of instability across the far eastern Texas panhandle. By the afternoon, it was apparent the instability would be a question as well, as cirriform clouds had spread over much of the region. By the time I got to Shamrock TX just before 6pm, the sky was filled with thick cirrostratus clouds - with turkey towers just barely visible through the haze to my distant northwest. I then noticed that these towers were going up and fizzling underneath a hole in the cirrostratus deck, so I headed northwest as I watched these towers go up and fizzle. At times these cumulus towers showed hints of promise, with trails of low stratocumulus streaming towards them. But just as they looked as if they would break the cap, they totally fell apart. I continued all the way to Miami TX, but once I got northwest of town, the sun went behind the dense cirrostratus, and it was clear this area would no longer receive any heating. At this point I decided the chase was a bust and decided to head back to Norman.

On the way back to Norman, I looked off to my distant south and noticed a mammatus filled anvil. I later learned that this storm briefly produced a little bit of rain and lightning in the southeastern Texas panhandle, but quickly fizzled with no severe weather reported. The highlight of the day was probably seeing all the wildlife across the Texas panhandle - I saw numerous roadrunners crossing the road, and even a live snake slithering across the road. I also had a couple of locals pull up and ask me if I was broken down while I was waiting for storms to fire near Laketon. This was the second time this happened to me while chasing this year, I also had a cop stop and ask me if I was broken down near Isabella OK on Apr 10. Because of this I am considering putting additional flair on my vehicle to make it more obvious to passers by what I am doing out there - especially to those who are viewing my vehicle from the front or side.

Total Mileage: 496 miles
Total Driving Time: 7 hours, 57 minutes

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