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April 9, 2008 Texas Storm Chase
of a tornadic supercell from near Abilene, Texas through Breckenridge to northeast of Gainesville, Texas

 

I left around 4am with my initial target just to get to North of Dallas and figure it out from there. At Sherman, TX I decided to continue West and Southwest towards Abilene. I actually traveled down there nearly the exact same way I chased home. From Sherman I headed West on Hwy 82 to Gainesville and then SW on 51 through Decatur. I then took 380 to Jacksboro and down to Graham and through Breckenridge and down to I-20. I got to I-20 around 2pm and thats about the time the first storm popped up southwest of Abilene. Here is the storm that produced tornadoes near Abilene and Breckenridge early on its life.

More storms began developing a bit further south as well

The storm quickly organized and I positioned myself just NW of Abilene. By 315pm the storm had been tornado warned and I saw a low hanging wall cloud begin to appear through the rain to my SW.

As the wall cloud approached it seemed to become a bit less organized and the rotation with it was pretty weak.

The wall cloud got even more strung out as it moved overhead but just after it passed over there was some reorganization and there was serious rotation nearly nearly right over my head.

I then got back on the interstate but I was looking at radar while behind a 18 wheeler and missed my planned exit so I lost a good 10 minutes having to get back where I wanted.

I finally got on Hwy 351 and headed NE from Abilene. The storms to the south then came into play. I was in the small area between them for a while but eventually I was overtaken. I decided to head continue NE to Albany and then toward Breckenridge. I tried to punch through the storm at Albany but it began hailing so I got back on 180 and continued toward Breckenridge. The radar was showing strong rotation with the storm just a couple miles to my SE and so I punched through the hook. I somehow didn't get any hail but the winds were strong out of the north. There were scud clouds just above the surface that were flying south. They were moving so fast it reminded me of speed the low clouds were moving as I experienced the western edge of Hurricane Katrina's eyewall. I knew I was close to the tornado so I made sure I had a firm grasp of my wind direction at all times. Near Breckenridge I got through the storm and on the eastern side I came to damage. It was probably EF-1 or EF-2. I continued through the damage and just west of Mineral Wells I headed back north closer to the storm. The inflow into the storm in this area was pretty significent. I got back in close on the storm but I couldnt quite get into the meso area and I got blasted by some RFD. I took some small roads over to Hwy 199 to Springtown where I once again headed north ahead of the storm. About halfway to Decatur the RFD caught me again and the lightning was crazy. There were 5 strikes within about a minute that were all within a few hundred yards. I then went through the mess into Decatur. I made the decision to head home here but the storm had not died yet so I continued to chase it as I headed home. I finally parted ways with it near Gainesville, Texas.

Here is video of the wall cloud near Abilene and the tornado damage at Breckenridge.

 

 

Here is the radar loop of the storm

Here is radar base reflectivity and velocity from the time the Breckenridge Tornado was occuring.


516pm Radar Velocity

 


520pm Radar Reflectivity

On a side note: While talking to the meteorologist at the tv station I chase for he mentioned the NWS Tulsa saw me punch through the storm at Breckenridge via spotternetwork. I guess the NWS and the other Fort Smith/Fayetteville area tv mets thought I was crazy in doing that but it really wasn't that big of a deal and my only real danger at the time was other people and hydroplaning and I was going a very safe speed. Funny stuff though!