I left Altoona IA around 4am, targeting an area somewhere along the Red River in Texas, possibly the Wichita Falls area.
Now, the *problem* with doing solo early-morning commando runs to target areas 600+ miles away, is that there is little time to evaluate current weather data while enroute. I arrived in the target vicinity in early afternoon, already exhausted from driving, yet hadn’t seen updated weather data for several hours. Ugh.
Morning convection was an issue, and persistent cloud cover was keeping the boundary layer from heating up. I decided to move to the southwest a bit. My radar feed from KFDR went offline and I didn’t notice because I was driving (KFDR technical issue). No matter, I still had my eyes. I drove underneath a decent storm system as I neared Seymour, TX on Hwy 82. I saw a nice wall cloud in the distance and moved toward it. Texas roads being what they are, I had no north or south options available as I headed toward the storm, except for Hwy 25, which I passed a few minutes ago because I wanted to poke in a little further. This storm was moving rapidly southeast, a very unusual direction but poke-poke-poke further I did until I found myself in a position where I had no choice but to continue west into the oncoming storm. I was on a relatively busy highway, so I moved forward cautiously, looking for ANY opportunity to turn around. I saw dozens of other chasers backtracking east. Yay.
Soon I was buffeted by heavy outflow winds, and the rain and hail began. As traffic slowed, I decided to execute a “Questionable Traffic Maneuver” aka “QTM”, and suddenly I was heading eastbound. Whaaaa? 🙂
I hammered it out of there as 60+ mph winds tried to blow me off the road, while the poor schmucks who continued westward encountered 3-inch hail a few minutes later.
I was looking for that southbound road option, and took it. It took me several minutes to outrun the gust front, but eventually I came to a little rest are at the intersection of Hwy 25 and Hwy 210. Although nearly overrun with other chasers, I stopped anyway to regain my bearings, change my radar feed to a working radar facility, and look at road maps in the region.
Low on gas, I headed into nearby Archer City to gas up and grab a quick Allsups Burrito (the official burrito of storm chasers). While I was getting gas, Skip Talbot and Brindley (Jennifer Brindley Ubl) drove by in the “doghouse” following the TIV. They were heading for an intercept down Hwy 29 toward Olney – same direction I was heading. I was probably 3 minutes behind them when I saw a large hail core heading toward the road in front of me, about two miles distant. I decided to wait a few minutes before proceeding, noting roads were flooding rapidly due to heavy rain.
This system was a mess. Rather than a beautiful isolated supercell on the dryline, this was a cell embedded in low visibility stratus. Not optimal. I made it to Olney, TX and stopped in a parking lot to look at current weather data as moderately heavy rain engulfed me. Olney flooded to the point where town roads were barely passable. I decided this was not a system I wanted to chase, and headed to Wichita Falls to bunk down for the night.