Sunday, May 16, 2021 (Western TX Panhandle, mi.)


The purest form of Caprock Magic sustains a gorgeous, tornadic LP for hours despite popcorn storm shear in the large scale environment.

Observed 1 tornado, and hail to quarter size.

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This was emblematic of the only category of successful outing I've managed the last five years: fluky, unpredictable, and a day I easily could've (should've?) been at home, barring desperation conspiring with other favorable circumstances. I started in Guymon, where I'd driven the day before for what materialized as an embarrassing squall line that wouldn't even throw me a CG photo op. I was hardly any more excited about the setup on 5/16, but was only a couple hours from the target, so WTH? The sunk costs fallacy is my new best friend these days. I meandered down to AMA lackadaisically after lunch, and was so bored by about 3:30p that I tracked down a good hotel and checked in early! Next, I wandered down to Plainview, where I sat at a gas station for over an hour trying not to fall asleep. I barely even expected to see rotating convection an hour before the show peaked.

As outflow-dominant supercells developed W of AMA, I suppose I can give myself some credit for sitting tight and not even being tempted by anything other than late development in the better moisture S. By 6:30p or so, scattered new cells were on the uptick to my W and SW, and one around Morton eventually became dominant. Reminiscent of the 5/9/16 Katie-Wynnewood storm, this was a cell whose base immediately re-calibrated my expectations and seriousness upon gaining visual as I approached on US-385. As I crept S and started to catch glimpses of the updraft itself, that seriousness only solidified. By the time I realized I needed to take it seriously for more than just structure, the show was starting: I raced around Amherst and emerged N of town to a view about ~6-8 S of the low-level meso, and the rest is history.

After casually dropping my best structure+tor op since Last Chance in a mesoscale environment I'd probably peg around the 30th percentile from all my chase days, the LP structure bonanza was on... and on and on it went. The first still above was around 7:40p, and I eventually dropped the storm as it dumped golfballs on me at I-27 at 10p. Having earlier locked in a room in AMA turned out to be the most boneheaded move possible when considering the events of 5/17 (especially since I had to work there until 4p); yet, there's something tangibly amusing and worthwhile about notching a career top 10 storm hours after checking into a room early out of boredom and tedium.

How about a crescent moon just high enough to illuminate the textbook LP without blowing it out, for good measure?