Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Respect the Wind

Today is the 40 year anniversary of the F5 tornado that hit downtown Lubbock, TX. May 11, 1970. My mom was just nine years old. Her neighborhood was flattened by the massive cyclone that ripped through the heart of the city. Lubbock also has the tallest sky scraper to survive an F5 tornado. Sadly, it was a night storm and there are no known photographs of the monster that barreled through the Hub City. In honor of the anniversary, I decided to blog about storms and weather today. Most of the pictures I'm including are ones that I have taken personally of storm chases I have been on. Some are by friends. The picture to the left is a perfect diagram of the layout of a tornadic supercell. Note in the front the rain wall, followed by the white of the hail shaft. Ever hear that quote, "calm before the storm?" See the gap after the hail shaft? That's when everything gets quiet and still, right before the tornado hits. In this particular picture, the tornado isn't fully developed, and is just a funnel. Still not to be taken lightly.

The picture above is called a "scud cloud." This is also tornadic. It's the storm's attempt to suck in all moisture as it begins it's rotation, right before a funnel is formed.

This is a more pronounced scud cloud with a rain band in front of it.

This picture shows the rotation as the wall cloud is trying to brew up a funnel. If you look closely you can see dirt being sucked up from the field. This is the wall cloud's attempt to suck in as much moisture from the east and dry air from the west to gain strength. Or as Dusty in Twister calls it.... "The suck zone." There was a time during this particular storm where it literally felt like the camera was going to be ripped from my hands. That was a sign to move on up the road out of the path.

This is a tornado that hit Tulia, TX on April 21, 2007. Tulia is about an hour north of Lubbock.

Storm season is probably my favorite time of the year. Right now, in 2010, we haven't had an official severe outbreak here in Texas. We've had several lines of storms with the potential. With El Nino still in place, the only thing we're going to get is rain. Supposedly it is burning off though, and we're slated to have a late storm season at the end of May and beginning of June. We might not have much of one this season. Oklahoma and Kansas had a high risk day yesterday. The last storm report I checked, there were 25 confirmed tornadoes across Central Oklahoma and Southern Kansas. One tornado hit North Oklahoma City during rush hour.

The farthest chase I've been on was up into Kansas. We went as far north as I-70 and it was well worth the sleep deprivation we endured. It was a moderate risk day which isn't a guarantee we'd see something, but the chances were greater than not. It is a fun adrenaline rush and a great experience, but I would never chase if I didn't know what I was doing. I'm also not a fan of night chases. I've studied extensively and I chase with a friend who knows more about the weather than I do. He's a Geo-sciences major and soon to be meteorologist.

Respect the wind -- It can be cruel!

This is a good video full of nice storm footage. Not done by me.


Talli Roland said...

Let me get this straight: You like storm season? I think I'd be terrified! You're brave!

AmazingGraceTX said...

Awesome pictures!!! And just between us, I like storm season too!!

Jemi Fraser said...

We don't have storms like that up here. I love my thunder & lightning storms and a good blizzard can be a joy to watch, but they're not tornadoes! Wow.

Unknown said...

You know how much I love your storm pics. So cool! We get occasional bad storms, but at my house, we have limited visibilty to the west due to trees and houses.

Maggie still remembers that time a few years ago when we had a tornado warning and were down in the basement. I was IM with you and you kept us updated on the storm in our county. lol. Like my own private Weather Channel--only better because you had our address and everything.

ModernDayDrifter said...

Talli - I used to be scared of them when I was a kid but that quickly changed. It's awesome and not scary when you're used to them. People around here generally know what to do to get out of harm's way. (usually)

Loriann - There's no shame in liking storm season. ;-)

Jemi - You like a good blizzard? NO Thanks! LOL

Mary - I remember that night. Nothing like tracking a storm so far away. Glad I made you guys feel safe.

unnamed lad said...

:) i love storms as well and although we seldom have tornado's i managed to see one off our deck 3-4 years ago. watched it suck up and then it blew itself out in less then 5 min. but it made the news!

i love storms and will stay outside "shooting" as long as possible. would love to chase storms as well. the other side of that is...i don't want to encounter one while in the RV:)

beautiful photos!!!

Hello there! My name is June said...

I'm terrified of wild storms...but also fascinated! So glad you were way waaaay out of harm's way!

Nishant said...

I like storm season too!!
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