The Happy, TX tornado
Updated: Mar 13, 2022
March 12th, 2021, was a significant bust for me. I drove over 498 miles to see nothing but the backside of HP tornadic supercells because I was late for storm initiation. The following day on March 13th, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK, issued a Moderate Risk for severe weather in the Texas Panhandle. I was more than ready to get my redemption for busting the previous day.
As I stated above, the Storm Prediction Center put a moderate risk out for the Texas Panhandle and Northwestern Texas. This was because more than 2,000 CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) of instability was projected to move into the area in the afternoon, with dew points reaching into the 60s, and bulk shear around 70kts. When you combine these three ingredients, you have the potential for tornadoes.
I arrived in Silverton, TX, around 3 pm, where a Tornado Warned supercell near Tulia, TX, was awaiting me only 30 minutes away. However, I passed up this storm for a developing cell to the Southwest of Tulia, TX, near the small town of Edmonson, TX. I did this because the Tulia storm was becoming an HP mess and I believed that the southern storm could intensify, while also merging with the Tulia storm in the next hour or so.
Soon after pulling onto a service road for Marshall Formby Memorial Highway (I-27) to head south towards the storm, the once small developing storm had now become Tornado Warned. I found a wonderful viewpoint near Edmonson, TX, on Highway 928, where a clear slot had developed. (An area of reduced cloud cover, indicating an intrusion of drier air. Believed to be a visual indication of a rear flank downdraft.) I soon began tracking this supercell to the north and got on
Highway 3141, where the supercell began to change from a Low Precipitation supercell to a High Precipitation supercell. By this time the supercell had begun merging with the previous storm near Tulia, TX, as I expected it to. I decided to head East on Highway 86, where I then played my cards and got on Interstate 27, to track the storm north as it came into Happy, TX. I took exit 88A near Happy, TX, where I then got onto Highway 1881 and sat while the tornadic supercell
passed right in front of me. A small clear slot began to form and out came a funnel cloud that was halfway to the ground. I watched as this funnel cloud came closer to the ground. Then the funnel cloud finally made contact with the ground, making it a tornado. I had just witnessed my 3rd tornado in 6 years of chasing.
The tornadic storm continued northeast towards the town of Claude, TX. At this point, I began chasing the storm on muddy back roads. Something I used to be very afraid of doing in my former vehicle, but now enjoy doing in my Ford Explorer. I began hearing reports of chasers becoming stuck in the mud because of the amount of rainfall in some areas, however, I proceeded on.
After navigating through canyons on Highway 207 near Claude, TX, I pulled over and observed a high-based funnel on the now completely High Precipitation supercell. In front of me were two people I had talked to on a weather forum for the past year, both Heather and Lisa ran to my vehicle and we chatted for about 30 seconds before the rain began falling at our location. I quickly moved north towards the
town of Claude, where flash flooding had taken over. I noticed that I only had 66 miles to E. A quick look at radar showed me that I could either risk driving Southeast towards Clarendon, TX, where a Tornadic supercell was making its way towards the town or I could play it safe and get gas in Claude. I decided to play it safe as the storms were transitioning into more of an HP mess and got gas in Claude. While this was a safe play,
the gas pumps at the gas station I chose to get gas at were glitching most likely because of the storm that had passed over. This meant that I lost ground of the tornadic supercell coming into Clarendon, TX, and as night began to fall, I called the chase. Overall, this chase day absolutely rocked! I felt like I had gotten so much redemption after busting the previous day near Lubbock, TX. I also
captured my first of hopefully many tornadoes this year! That's all I have for this storm-chasing blog! I really hope that you enjoyed reading it! In closing, I will be leaving links to a live stream I had going during the first 35 minutes of the chase and a vlog showing the video side of the chase that I did on March 13th, 2021! Thanks again for reading friends, have a great morning, afternoon, or evening!