June 2, 1999

Supercell Produces Nazareth, TX Tornado

Chase Account by: Scott Blair


Chase Team: Scott Blair & Jason Politte.
Brief Weather Setup
At 7am, clear skies prevailed across most of the Texas panhandle. A jet streak ran northeast, bringing high and mid level clouds approaching Midland, TX. A stationary front laid across a line from Seminole, to south of Lubbock, to Wichita Falls. An area of low pressure was located over South Central New Mexico. Temperatures ranged in the low to mid 60's north of the front to mid 70's south. Dewpoints in the Texas Panhandle were in the lower 60's. Winds were out of the southeast at 5-10mph. By 7pm, the stationary front moved north across Northern Oklahoma to Southeast Colorado. Low pressure deepened and moved northeast into Southeast Colorado. A north-south oriented dryline moved east along the Texas/New Mexico border. Shear increased to 70knts with lifted index values at -5. Temperatures jumped into the mid 80's with dewpoints in the mid 60's. All winds were southeast at 20mph. A few supercells developed along the dryline with one impressive cell that developed near Clovis, NM and became tornadic east of Dimmitt, TX.

A beautiful blue sky welcomed El Reno, OK just after sunrise. There was not much time to waste, so I began forecasting early. After recognizing several surface boundaries and an impressive jet streak across the TX panhandle, we decided to target an area in between Amarillo and Lubbock. Everything was in order as we left El Reno, OK around mid morning.

We crossed into Texas on I-40 just before noon. Cloud cover was becoming a concern as surface heating was struggling to take place. We continued into Amarillo and stopped at the Taco Bell for lunch. Here, we received a few updates over NWR. Most notably, a special weather statement was issued discussing the threat of tornadoes and a needed alert of the dangerous weather situation developing. Sticking with our original target area, we continued southwest.

After a brief jog to the south on I-27, we headed SW on Hwy60 to Friona, TX. We pulled off near Hub, TX to record some readings off the weather station. Very strong SE winds up to 25mph were common. We decided to bump south, so we took Hwy385 and stopped just north of Littlefield. Through the slowly breaking clouds, the first organized towers of the day blew up around 5:10pm. The cell quickly organized and formed a nice anvil. By 5:30pm, it was clear this would be our target storm.

The supercell's movement was to the ENE. We pulled back north on Hwy385 and turned west on Hwy70 in Springlake. The lower levels were organizing nicely. We pulled off near Earth, TX to examine it more closely. A decent amount of scud was condensing upward into the updraft. Large pockets of dust on the ground inflowed towards the storm. We moved north closer to the storm and pulled off about 5 miles north of Earth. By 6:40pm, it was apparent that the updraft area would occasionally become outflow dominated. This was a little discouraging, but it was still early.

To stay ahead of the storm and stay in good contrast, we took TX Road 145 and pulled off north of Sunnyside. By 7pm, the storm significantly increased in organization. The lower levels formed some striations and a sustained wall cloud tightened up. A tornado warning was issued for Castro and Swisher Counties. We continued eastbound for another ten miles. We stopped briefly to observe. It was obvious this storm was transforming into a classic supercell.

We reached Hart, TX and made the decision to continue east due to contrast/position. VORTEX-RFD turned north to examine/gather data on the RFD. Likewise, other chasers turned north. We continued east for another ten miles and turned north on TX Road 1424. The situation was becoming very interesting. The classic "backward C comma" shape was evident. The RFD was punching in, filtering in some light. A tight wall cloud and associated inflow tail was found just on the north side of the "comma". We noticed some tight looking dust under the wall cloud, so we pulled off about five miles south of Lakeview, TX (or 15 ESE Nazareth). Sure enough, it was a tornado at 7:44pm. While the condensation funnel had a difficult time condensing downward, a significant amount of organized dust and debris rotated around. The entire storm structure along with the tornado was breathtaking. Contrast quickly became less favorable, so we packed up and moved north. The tornado finally dissipated as we pulled closer. Its lifetime was about three to five minutes.

We headed east on Hwy86 and stopped east of the tornado siren filled town of Tulia, TX. The original mesocyclone had occluded and the supercell appeared to have become disorganized. However, a new meso had formed southwest of the old supercell. This cell developed very fast. By 8:15pm, several inflow tails and quite frequent cg lightning strikes filled the sky. The setting sun aided in bringing out brilliant colors. We strongly considered chasing this new supercell, but with daytime heating about to fall and the possible organization into a MCS, we headed back into Tulia to end the chase day just before 9pm. The sky was beautiful with all sorts of different colors and mammatus. A great chase day! -Scott Blair




CONFIRMED LOCAL STORM REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LUBBOCK, TX
WED JUN 02 1999

0745 PM 8 E NAZARETH TX TORNADO
06/02/99 SWISHER TX
REPORTED BY VORTEX CHASE TEAM AND AMA TELEVISION STATION (LBB)


***CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK... VALID 022000Z - 031200Z***
THERE IS A MDT RISK OF SVR TSTMS THRU THE EARLY HALF OF TNGT FROM PARTS OF W TX AND THE TX PANHANDLE NWD INTO SERN CO AND WRN KS. THE MDT RISK AREA IS TO THE RIGHT OF A LINE FROM 25 WSW CAO LHX 50 ENE LIC 25 E GLD 10 WSW DDC 35 NW CSM 70 NE BGS 35 ENE HOB 10 S CVS 25 WSW CAO.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP THROUGH THIS EVENING FROM WEST TX NWD INTO ERN CO/WRN KS WHERE AIR MASS WILL DESTABILIZE UNDERNEATH DIVERGENT UPPER LEVEL FLOW. MEAN SHEAR VECTOR OF WLY AT 45 KT AND HIGH INSTABILITY INDICATES POTENTIAL FOR LARGE HAIL AND TORNADOES ACROSS THE RISK AREA.

***SPC MESOSCALE DISCUSSION #0526 FOR NORTHWEST TEXAS INCLUDING THE PANHANDLE/WESTERN OKLAHOMA INCLUDING THE PANHANDLE CONCERNING...SEVERE THUNDERSTORM POTENTIAL...***
LATEST VISIBLE IMAGERY SHOWS CUMULUS DEVELOPING THIS AFTERNOON ACROSS PORTIONS OF THE SOUTHERN TEXAS PANHANDLE AND NORTHWEST TEXAS. A WARM FRONT WAS LIFTING NORTHWARD THROUGH THE TEXAS PANHANDLE AND CENTRAL OKLAHOMA. THIS IS ALLOWING MOISTURE TO RETURN TO THE AREA...AS DEWPOINTS HAVE RISEN INTO THE UPPER 60S AND LOW 70S. WITH TEMPERATURES IN THE MID TO UPPER 80S...SURFACE BASED CAPE VALUES ARE WELL OVER 3000 J/KG. THE 18Z SOUNDING FROM AMARILLO SHOWS A WEAKENING CAP AS WELL AS STRONGLY VEERING WINDS. THE VEERING PROFILE COMBINED WITH THE EXTREME INSTABILITY SUGGESTS SUPERCELLS ARE LIKELY TO DEVELOP DURING THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS. WE WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR THIS AREA FOR A POSSIBLE TORNADO WATCH WITHIN THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS.

*Return to Main Page