May 15th was a “day before the day” scenario in which tornado chances were pretty much zero, but the following day would feature a much greater tornado risk in essentially the same area. If a day like this were isolated, I may have just skipped it.
The main factor limiting the tornado risk was the large dewpoint depression. That’s a fancy term for the difference between the air temperature and the dewpoint. When this difference gets high (Generally about 20° and greater), it means the cloud bases will be high, and you need lower cloud bases for tornadoes.
High-based storms can still produce large hail, and they often produce beautiful storms. I didn’t really have an exact target, but just set out mid-morning toward Amarillo. After looking at data in Childress, I decided I’d stop just east of Amarillo in Claude, TX. It was long after I reached Claude that towers began attempting to go up. I followed the developing towers north, and met up with my buddy Adam at the Love’s station off I-40. From there we determined we needed to go further north, as the more robust initiation was that way, and we set out for Borger. I was leading the way, and just went past Borger and through Stinnett, heading west on 152 until we reached a clearing. I made this decision as I saw the storms were moving almost due north.
There ended up being quite a bit of convection forming, and we were able to sit in this same location and let 3 different severe storms come to us.
We let the core overtake us on the second storm, and it contained some decent hail in our location, maybe a little over 1-inch.
The third storm was definitely the best, as it developed incredible structure! We had to move back to the east to get in front of this one, and through Stinnett, repositioning to the south side of town. What a beauty!
Limited road options from there meant we had to slowly get through the core while avoiding the largest hail, in order to end up back to the south of the storm. However, it was almost dark at this point, so the storm began to lose intensity, but the lightning was brilliant. The mosquitoes were relentless, however, so I did not want to stay out there trying to shoot lightning only to come away with 100 mosquito bites on my legs! No, I stupidly did not have any bug spray with me! Lesson learned!
So no tornadoes to be seen on this day, but every once in a while chases like this are a welcome change of pace. It’s nice to have a more relaxed attitude and pace, and just be able to enjoy watching the storms.