Wednesday, May 29, 2013 (Eastern TX Panhandle, 670 mi.)

Synopsis

Storm mode trashes what initially looked like formidable potential, but the chase was (sort of) on the route home anyway.

Observed hail to nickel size.

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This originally looked like perhaps the most potent setup of the week, with some calling for an outbreak. In reality, it was going to be tough to follow up the previous day's surprise wedge machine in north-central KS. Despite some favorable parameters, this setup was plagued by some of my least-favorite issues: veer-back-veer profiles, a SW-NE oriented dryline, and early initiation. To top it off, the most favorable deep-layer shear profiles were toward the southern end of the risk area in the Panhandles, which continue to experience extreme drought conditions this year.

I departed Salina around 8:30am and headed straight for DDC, where I stopped for lunch with Brandon, Bryan and Matt Chatelain. We got separated quickly afterward, and I lost all data as I dropped through Beaver Co. Given that storms were already initiating around AMA by this time (1-2pm), my mood was fouling as I darted through a sub-optimal network of backroads around Gate, Slapout and Follett. It wasn't until I reached Canadian that I had a consistently good connection. There, I realized my frantic pace had been in vain, as the initial supercell tracking along US-60 was already weakening to my SW (not a good sign this early in the day). On radar, this storm had shown an unpleasant reflectivity structure in keeping with the screwy wind profile above 500 mb.

Shortly thereafter, several new cells exploded farther S, from around Panhandle to Silverton. The problem was that the Panhandle drought had once again asserted itself: dew points were plunging into the mid and upper 50s, mocking consistent model forecasts of at least low-mid 60s. It only took half an hour for the storms to congeal into an extensive squall line with embedded notches (QLCS), confirming that the chase day would essentially bust. Having already come so far out of my way, I stuck around Shamrock for some photo ops as the line approached.

Pathetically, I couldn't bring myself to write off a supercell which had remained discrete somewhere down around Turkey, and was drawn further S to Wellington. By that point, it was faster for me to take US-62 through LTS and LAW home, a route I've had nothing but bad luck on this year and had hoped to avoid. Regardless, I made it home by 10pm after quite a haul (basically SLN-DDC-CDS-OUN), but the previous day's offerings were enough to keep my spirits up (and my eyes open!).