Total Miles: 375
Yesterday marked the first chase of the 2016 storm season, one that has some great potential! The morning started off with a strong squall line that went through the Metroplex, and knocked out the power at the office for an hour and a half. The system left behind an outflow boundary to the south-southwest, and that would be my target for the afternoon chase. Lampasas, TX is where I decided to head, which was right on top of the boundary.
There was one storm that fired about the same time I was leaving. I watched it gain some strength, then stall, then gain strength again, only to falter back again. Looking at the current conditions, the storm was not in the best environment. It was right on the edge of the unstable air mass to the west, but it was moving to the east away from that good environment. As I traveled south on 281, I thought I might try to intercept it if nothing else was going on by the time I got to it.
Since upper-level winds were almost straight out of the south, the top of the storm was getting blown significantly further north. Somewhere near Glen Rose I stopped and photographed some great looking mammatus clouds.
As I continued south, visible satellite showed some towering cumulus developing along the outflow boundary to the west of this storm. By the time I got far enough south to be even with this storm, it was already off to the east, and I saw no reason to go after it. Instead I focused my attention on the next storm beginning to pop up to the west, near Lometa.
I was able to see the tower beginning to form, and watched the entire development of this storm. Even in its early stages, it was visually appealing, though lacking some organization.
That was the view near Evant, TX. The base was still further south, and the storm was moving ever so slowly east-northeast, so I continued south to Adamsville to get a better look at the base. The road heading west from Adamsville had a perfect vantage point on top of a hill, and I found several other chasers at the same spot.
At one point this storm had some decent looking rotation on it on radar, but visually there was no definite area of rotation, and really not even a wall cloud, just a rain-free base. However, it was apparent that the storm was gaining strength, and several CG strikes were coming from the core of the storm.
Clearly outflow dominant at this point, I knew there wasn’t a chance this storm was going to produce a tornado. I could have gotten to the next east-west road in time to get in front of it, but instead I decided to stop and check out the core. I really did not expect the hail to be that big, but I was in for a surprise!
It started with pea-size hail, and the stones just progressively got bigger and bigger. Eventually I saw golf balls falling, and they were coming in with quite a bit of velocity. They were hitting the car HARD! I could actually feel the stones hitting the car! I’ve never experienced a hail barrage of this magnitude, and I can tell you that you don’t really get a sense of what it’s like from a video. You have to be there in it. It is really intense! My heart has not pounded so hard from any of the tornadoes I’ve seen!
I was worried that one of those stones was going to break my windshield. I was also worried they would get bigger, yet. Thankfully they did not, and as the hail began to let up, I breathed a sigh of relief. I still had my windshield! I opened the interior cover to the sunroof at that point to see if that was still intact. It sure wasn’t! I saw the spider web pattern on the front of the glass, and didn’t open it any further, as I didn’t want any glass to fall into the vehicle.
Once I was out of the rain I got out to check out the damage.
Well I didn’t intend on that happening! So at that point I didn’t want to be caught in any heavy rain, not knowing if it would leak into the vehicle, so I pretty much called the chase and started the drive home. Luckily these sunroofs can be had at an inexpensive price from junkyards on eBay, and it’s just a few screws to install them. They come with a bracket and the seal already attached. I was thinking I’d have to purchase the glass by itself and attach it to all of that. So one is on the way, and hopefully will be here by the end of the week. In the meantime, a trash bag duct taped over it is preventing rain from getting inside!
Not a bad first chase of the season! I put together a video with some timelapse footage from both my GoPro and my Nikon, and video from my Sony Handycam.