Saturday, April 15, 2017

Storm Chasers Gaga Over Texas Tornadoes, Supercell

A few times each spring and early summer, storm chasers converge on almost "perfect" supercell thunderstorms and tornadoes.   
An immense tornado near Dimmitt, Texas Friday evening
The supercell storm created at least six tornadoes.
This image via Twitter @Stasischasing

Each of thes supercells produce multiple tornadoes, plus giant hail, violent winds, flood-producing rains, vivid lightning and spectacular cloud features.

It obviously helps immensely when the tornadoes in question avoid towns and cities and stay out over open country.

Such was the case Friday evening, when a giant supercell fired up near the town of Dimmitt, population about 4,800 in the Texas panhandle southwest of Amarillo.

This supercell was almost stationary for several hours, meaning the tornadoes were slow moving, or even sat over the same spot for a long time - about three hours - which is also obviously dangerous.

This also must have kept the residents of Dimmitt alarmed for a a long time, because unlike most tornadoes and severe storms, this one wasn't moving on. Would a tornado break free and plow through the town?

One of Friday night's Dimmitt, Texas tornadoes via 
Dimmitt itself wasn't too badly damaged, even though the storm produced at least six significant tornadoes

The slow or non-existent movement of the supercell also meant incredible amounts of rain and hail fell, leading to serious flash flooding. Up to 12 inches of rain was reported in some areas around Dimmitt.

You'll see in the videos below how the tornadoes blossom, beome big, then "rope out" meaning they get skinnier and skinnier until they dissipate. Then a new one forms.

It was even fascinating for me to watch the tornadoes unfold on radar, viewing it on my laptop fromo the safety of Vermont, where the sky was clear and the wind was calm.  

You'd sometimes see three simultaneous tornado circulations on radar image, which is pretty impressive for a single storm.

As is the case most of the time in April, there's a threat of severe weather and possible tornadoes almost daily for the foreseeable future in various spots in the middle and southern parts of the United States.

This has so far been quite a year for severe weather. The Weather Channel says there have so far been more than 5,000 reports of tornadoes, thunderstorm wind damage and large hail in 2017, double the average.

There have even been unprecedented early tornadoes in February as far north as Massachusetts and Minnesota.

So far in 2017, only seven states, including Vermont, that have not reported any damage from severe thunderstorms.

We'll see if the trends continue.

Here's some video of the Dimmitt storms.

Through much of this video, one of the tornadoes near Dimmitt appears to want to "rope out" but maintains its strength, looking like a drill bit as it crosses the Texas prairie:

In this video, it looks like the storm chaser was a little too close to one of the Dimmitt tornadoes when it was a powerful wedged-shaped monster:

More video of the twisters:

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