5/7/15 Krum, TX Tornado - Denton County, Sanger

We started the day with a 5% tornado risk over North Central Texas.

We were up very early to check the models to see where we might want to set up for the chase.  Luckily we didn't end up with too far to go, because it left us with time when the TIV had a mechanical problem.  Love this shot below of the guys:

 (Above:  Skip Talbot on the back of the doghouse)

 (Above:  Paul Borrud and his drone)

Soon enough we were ready to gas on up and hit the road.  Below is a shot of a local approaching Sean to talk about the TIV and chasing.  One of my very favorite things about Sean is his kindness to strangers.  He always takes the time to chat with them if he can, and he is always sweet and nice.  It makes a big difference in some people's day, and I respect that immensely about him.

We approached a line of storms, and decided to put ourselves in front of the updraft base that looked the best at the time, which was a storm approaching Seymour, TX.  This holds a special place in my heart, as my first ever tornado was a wedge tornado 3mi southeast of Seymour, TX on 4/13/07!  You can read about that on Amos Magliocco's blog post HERE.  ((I wasn't blogging at the time.))

 (Above:  Skip, Paul and Phil)

 (Above left:  Justin readying the probes.  Above right:  Tiv approaching a ragged lowering)

(Above:  Justin pointing to the ragged wall cloud on our storm)

  We stayed to watch this base and the one approaching us from the southwest as TIV opted for a slightly more northeasterly position for the time being.

It was becoming apparent that these storms were struggling to stay surface based, and we continued to drop down the line.  Below you can see a dramatic view of one of our storms updraft bases.  I love that you can look up and see how carved out it is.  So beautiful.

We made a few stops to rendezvous with another chaser Nick Nolte to pick up a camera bag he had for Skip, and then for a quick restroom stop.   We continued to chase.  We got to the next storm that appeared to have promise, though it was obviously rain wrapped.

We attempted to get in front of it, but the damn thing filled in with rain right away, and the area of circulation, along with the entire storm, was cruising north.  If there was a tornado, it was completely obscured by rain and way off to our north at this point.

As you can see below, nobody wants to chase that!

After that we realized one of the subsequent storms was tornado warned, and we decided to go after it even though it was looking really wonky on the radar.

As soon as we were approaching, I couldn't believe the radar signature.  The previous tornado warning had expired and the storm was only severe warned at this time.  It is my guess that the previous warning was allowed to expire when the storm started to gust out and shed its hook, and that it took a little while for it to get reorganized.  That, it did.  I looked down and exclaimed, "I have no idea how this doesn't have a tornado warning!"  I knew it would be warned any moment.  It turns out there was a confirmed tornado on the ground at this time, as well.

And surely enough, it was warned shortly thereafter.

At this point because of our approach and position, along with the storm's trajectory and the road network we had, we decided to attempt a maneuver that is referred to as "hook slicing."  It is where you drive through the hook of the storm, with the goal of coming out into the clear air behind the tornado.  This can be a dangerous maneuver on a high precipitation storm, because you can find yourself driving through the hook into what should have been clear air, only to find rain, rain and more rain.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what we found.  After we sliced through the hook, we found ourselves in a more bright, light area, but in front of us where the tornado should have been was just solid green and grey darkness.  In this type of situation a person could drive directly into a rain wrapped tornado if they were not aware of what was going on and being extremely cautious.  Looking out the windshield and my side window there was a clear, strong inflow toward the area of interest that could very well indicate a tornado.  We decided to hold our ground until the circulation passed to our north.

Plus, who wants to drive into something that looks like that?  (below.)

Once we were sure the area of circulation had passed to our left (north,) we crept further east on the highway until we could see more clearly.

Our view to the north once we got far enough east?  There was a tornado on the ground!

It was somewhat far away and if we had known that it would continue to produce we would have been repositioning north to get closer.  However, sometimes in this type of situation (undesirable terrain, minimal road network,) you sometimes are forced with a "Shoot now!" approach, as you don't know if this is the only shot of a tornado you'll get for the day.

The tornado was moving off to the north/northeast, so we decided to get closer.  We had quite the view at our second stop.  We were nearly directly east of the tornado at this point, but it still had a very northerly trajectory.  We kept close eyes on the tornado and tornado cyclone to be sure we were in a safe position.  If at any time the tornado appeared to be turning right or moving toward us, we would execute our escape route, which was back the direction we came.

Thankfully we were just in a fantastic position with a shockingly clear view, though we had to cross a small creek with water to our thighs and stand at the base of a treeline to get this clear shot.  It was absolutely worth it.  I love how you can see the entire structure here, the wall cloud, the RFD clear slot - the whole meso is just carved out beautifully.  Skip would call this "convective cake!"

The tornado was continuing to the north/northeast so we decided to keep up with it as long as we could.  Our light was dwindling quickly, so we figured our next stop would be the last one.

We ended up stopping on the road behind a huge line of chasers and other vehicles.  The result is an eerie and foreboding type of image.  The tornado looming in the rain, the darkness and the lights from the vehicles.  Whoooooo, it gives me shivers.

After a few days with busts, it was much needed to be able to successfully intercept this tornado.  And, at this point we were unaware that an even better chase day was on our horizon, only two days later!