Panhandle Magic Part II: 11/16
In perhaps one of the last storm chases of the year, a tornado outbreak struck the High Plains from the Texas panhandle to western Kansas. It was a setup you would expect to see in May and not November. In fact, the outbreak set records for the furthest west so late in the season, including rare November significant tornadoes in the High Plains.
The afternoon started relatively quietly until a supercell developed near Tulia, Texas. With that area being close to my target for the day, I did not have to go far to get into position. Little did I know that I would pass through a Canyon and end up having little to no cell phone data or radar imagery for over an hour. Nonetheless, I watched a supercell develop and form a ragged wall cloud in open country. The thunderstorm become tornado-warned as it moved northeast to a position over Palo Duro Canyon. Rotation with the storm struggled to become focused, but there was a short period of time when two apparent funnel clouds could be observed over the canyon.
I moved north and the storm continued to struggle, at least from my vantage point. Seemingly out of nowhere, a brief tornado did touch down to my east, but it was short-lived on all accounts and I was only able to get a quick photo when the vortex was lifting.
Although other thunderstorms began developing over the Texas pandandle through sunset, the most robust storms and initial tornadoes were focused over western Kansas. Just as it became dark, things began to light up near Pampa, Texas. As I was on I-40 going east, a tornado suddenly touched down just to my north and was moving in the general direction of Pampa. Ahead of this storm, a significant, long-track tornado had also just passed by Pampa to the south.
I turned north to pursue these storms and for a short time, I had a visual on both tornadoes, one to the northwest and the other to the northeast. The below basically summarizes the storm chase, including low resolution photos of the two tornadoes (in separate images) near Pampa:
Very low quality, but 3 from Monday, tor lifting south of Claude, then tornado near Groom, then Pampa I in distance: pic.twitter.com/hkt6nSuR7M
— Quincy Vagell (@stormchaserQ) November 18, 2015
The storm chase came to an abrupt end a few minutes later as there were power lines down all over over the road, with debris and damaged cars everywhere. Due to safety concerns and a developing squall line to the west, I got back on track and blasted east, all the way to Fort Smith, Arkansas. Although the next day had more severe thunderstorm potential most of the tornadoes were focused over Mississippi at night, well after I had already called it a day and was driving back to Atlanta.
Here is another time-lapse from the supercell over Palo Duro Canyon:
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