CHASE REPORTS

MAY 12th 2005

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We had scrambled south from Kansas to the Texas Panhandle, for what would ultimately prove to be the most intense chase of our lives.

In Texas we managed to catch up with the severe weather system that would hopefully begin to initiate storms in the Plainview vicinity. Any storms that did fire up in the region would have strong tornado potential.

We met up with other chasers and waited for the storms to fire up, and we soon saw a well formed wall cloud to our north and witnessed some large hail that many chasers did not risk driving into.

We pulled off the road just north of SOUTH PLAINS, just in time to witness a funnel forming close to our position. It was a slender white cone that slowly began to touch down. The tornado began to intensify and became larger and dustier in appearance.


Rain and large hail began to fall as we chased the twister as it moved north across a field.
We had a perfect vantage point to view the tornado as it crossed the road ahead of us before roping out. It was magnificent!.

The storm now had really strong inflow and a persistant updraft, and we soon saw another tornado forming ahead of us, quickly realising this was a dangerous 'multi vortex' tornado and we were right on the edge of the circulation.

Large hail began to fall so we decided to get ahead of the tornado and out of the destructive hail. We sped along side the twister but were unable to make it out of the 'bears cage' in time. The situation was now quite serious as we were stuck between the tornado and the hail core. Our visibility was very poor as hail and strong inflow winds slammed the van. We were like a sitting duck to the baseball sized hail that was being flung sideways by the storm.

The situation became worse as the windscreen was smashed but fortunately did not cave in completely. Within seconds though there was a huge smash as hail came straight through the back side window!.
We had to get out of there now, and quickly turned the van around and retreated away from the meso as the rain wrapped tornado crossed the road only about 50 FEET from us.

When we reached safety we rejoined other chasers to survey the damage to our vehicles, which was extensive!. We had a smashed windsreen, completely destroyed side window and windscreen wipers.

The chase was over.

That night we limped back to Amarillo in one piece...but only just!.