May 1, 2009 Chase

Bridge, Mickey, Randy Cooper, and myself targeted the western edge of a slow-moving cold front this day, near the area where it was expected to cross the dryline in north Texas. We left Norman later than I would've liked, but made good time down I-44 all the way to Wichita Falls. As we negotiated town, storms developed west of our target town of Seymour, near Benjamin. I was pretty upset at this, knowing we'd needed to be on the road much earlier to insure we'd not be late for initiation. But regardless, there was nothing we could do now but keep racing west towards the storm.

We blasted west on US82/277 through Seymour, Goree, and Munday. South of Munday, we got our first good look at the storm's base. It looked interesting, but like it was cycling down. We'd heard the report of the tornado earlier, so we knew it was capable. We kept the base in view as we continued south on 277 towards Haskell. We stopped a few times along the way, observing some dust being kicked up underneath. As we got into the north side of Haskell, Mickey found a network of back roads that worked well with the storm's motion, which was due south at a snail's pace. We used these roads (which at times were nothing more than glorified trails) to work our way towards the storm's notch, where we would spend the rest of the storm's life.

As we maneuvered our way towards the storm, a clear slot developed and light rotation was noted. A lowering formed below it, and slowly spun as the clear slot kept cutting in. However, the storm was fighting outflow, and could not sustain the light rotation. The lowering soon vanished behind a slowly wrapping curtain of rain, and dissipated altogether. With the storm cycling down once again, and obviously struggling with outflow, we decided to move a mile or so south to our next west option, to keep ourselves in a prime viewing area for the next attempt.

We continued to move south for short intervals down our little back road, stopping occasionally to watch the storm try to organize repeatedly. Eventually, just north of Stamford, it did. A large area of scud that had been fighting to become a wall cloud against the influence of outflow finally won the battle, and within a minute, had established itself as a large lowering, with good inflow on the northeast side. We stayed and watched until it got too close for us to work with, and then moved south once more to position ourselves ahead of the developing rotation.

We stopped about a mile further south down the road, and got out. The rotation had focused itself on the north end of the lowering, and was becoming rapid and tight. To the southwest of this, due west of us, an RFD was cutting into a separate area of rotation. Back on the northern end, a cone funnel developed on the left side of the intense rotation, and spun rapidly for a minute or so. It twisted and writhed, but eventually became absorbed back into the main rotation, which continued to churn just north of us. The rapid rotation continued, and seconds later a debris cloud spun up behind a row of trees. The tornado continued north of us while a strong RFD off the western rotation began kicking up dirt west of us. The tornado continued north of us, but quickly got wiped out by an RFD from the northern circulation. As this was happening, the western RFD was still cutting into its own rotation, as a small funnel formed. It snaked down just a bit, but could never get close to the ground. It sustained itself for maybe a minute, and then vanished. By this time we were eating dust from the northern RFD, and bailed out to the south into Stamford.

We stopped to gas up, meeting rookie chasers Conner McCrorey and Aaron Estman. We said a quick hello, then jumped back on the road, moving south of town on TX6 to get a view of the storm. Unfortunately, the storm began to rapidly decay, and we decided to let it go. On the way back north through Stamford, we stopped again at the place we'd gotten gas, to look at an exploding corkscrew tower which was struggling to be surface-based. We decided to target a storm to our northeast near Seymour, and drove back up to Haskell, turning east onto US380 headed to Throckmorton. From there, we turned north onto US183 headed to Seymour. However, this storm too began a rapid decline, and vanished before we could reach Seymour. Once we did, we stopped for a delicious dinner at Dairy Queen (a favorite from my childhood I hadn't had in twenty years), and then began the journey home.