April 23, 2008 Chase

This day was largely a repeat of our April 9 chase. Just like that day, many people were skeptical this event would be a good chaseable system, and, just like that day, we saw it as another great opportunity to score an early season tornado. Chad, Mick, and myself took the same path, more or less, southwest towards Abilene. However on this day, we would end up some distance northwest of Abilene proper. Unlike April 9 though, as we neared our target area, confidence wasn't high at all.

We stopped in the town of Rotan, with a severe-warned storm about twenty miles west of us. We were skeptical of anything happening because the storm west of us had been ongoing for over an hour, and had barely reached severe limits. The more time went by, the less we felt anything significant would occur. We filled up the tank, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then decided to head a little further south, to try and get a view of the storm as it approached Rotan. We ended up in the town of Roby, where we decided to turn back west on US180, as we had north options west of there, and we wanted to get a closer view of the storm's base.

Visually, the storm looked impressive, but it was obviously outflow-dominant. However we continued west to our north option, then took it. As we drove north watching the storm grow closer, it seemed as though it might be getting its act together. Our road hooked back to the east, and we found ourselves heading back towards Rotan, but this time approaching from the west with a severe storm in-tow. As we drove, Chad and Mick started noting that the cloud tags seemed to be moving into the storm, instead of out ahead of it like before. Because the storm was close to us and we weren't sure of any south options until we got back to Rotan, we decided to keep driving instead of stopping to see if the scud really was being pulled west.

By the time we reached town and once again found ourselves heading south through Rotan, it was obvious the low clouds were all being pulled into the storm. We continued through town, and a few miles south of there, I looked west and saw a distant tornado. We immediately pulled over and started shooting video, but a farmer was plowing the field next to us and his dust was blowing right into our field of view, obscuring the tornado that was already somewhat difficult to see. After inching backwards and forwards, we finally got a view of it away from the farmer's dust cloud. The tornado continued to move southeast, and after a minute or so, gradually began to thin out and eventually disappeared.

The storm continued to rotate violently, and we continued south back to Roby, to find our next east option. We jumped onto US180 eastbound, and drove to FM57, where we turned north. By this time, our original storm had become rather messy-looking, with lots of precipitation. We set up and watched as an RFD notch developed with a funnel, but could never get it done. After this cycle began to fade, we deemed the storm too junky to continue pursuing, and decided to break off and head back west to a second supercell that had become tornado-warned.

As we headed back west on US180, we noted awesome structure from the storm to our southwest, and as we pulled over to take a closer look, we noticed another tornado, already in progress, moving southeast. This tornado looked much like the first one, a ragged barrel shape, but it grew much larger, eventually attaining wedge status briefly, before rapidly weakening and eventually dissipating altogether. We called this one in to the weather service, and then turned around and headed east, in an attempt to get far enough ahead of the storm to find a south road and get a closer view.

We turned south onto FM126, and headed to the curiously-named town of Noodle. From there we noticed the storm seemed to be outflow-dominant, and couldn't understand why the tornado warning had been extended. However, we assumed they must be seeing something indicative on radar, so we continued to stay with the storm. Not long afterwards, an intense gustnado with a fully-enveloped dust column formed, and fooled us into thinking it was a tornado. I reported it as a possible tornado, and then we continued on further east.

We came to the same set of road options that had burned us on April 9, and, with the storm not really impressing us anymore, decided to not repeat our mistake of two weeks ago. Instead, we turned west onto I-20, and made a mad dash out west to try and catch up to another tornadic supercell near Lamesa. We got there just as it was winding down, although it did give us about twenty minutes of awesome structure as it slowly died in the sky. Another successful west Texas chase early in the year.