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  • Writer's pictureMichael Thornton

Tornado fest in NW Texas

On April 23rd, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, put an Enhanced Risk for severe weather in both Oklahoma and Northwestern Texas. At 12:30 pm, the Storm Prediction Center released a new outlook stating that "Forecast soundings show very steep lapse rates and robust CAPE profiles, along with strong deep-layer shear. This should promote supercells capable of very large hail and a tornado or two." With this in mind, I began to head south towards the

The supercell as seen from Quanah, TX.

town of Vernon, TX, where I set up on a very small gravel road called "County Road 93 South". I watched as storms went up near Childress, TX, and quickly became severe. The chase was on. I began driving west on U.S. Highway 287 towards the town of Quanah, TX, where I then got onto Highway 104 and began watching the supercell from a hill. As the supercell came closer I decided to go south on Highway 6 so I could be in position in the event that a tornado developed. This decision was also made so

Supercell to the south of Quanah, TX, with a dodge truck.

that I could stay out of golf ball size hail (1.75-inch hail). I stopped at the cross-section of four corners road and Highway 6 to view the now beautiful supercell structure. I observed a farmer working in his tractor as the storm came in. KOCO Meteorologist Michael Armstrong from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, then pulled up next to me and we observed the storm together. As he headed back to his vehicle he warned us that rattlesnakes may be near us in the field. About 1 minute later quarter size hail began

falling and I decided to continue south on Highway 6. I then got onto Highway 62 which led me into Coppers Break State Park. I watched as the storm began to create a large wall cloud. The wall cloud then came very close to my location and rapid rotation about 0.50 miles away was visible. I knew this was unsafe so I quickly dropped south again on Highway 6. Even with a brief

The second tornado in the rope out stage.

moment of chaser convergence, I was able to get out of harm's way and continue east on Highway 3103. The decision to move further south away from the storm was most likely a good decision as once I turned onto Highway 3103, I noticed a large tornado on the ground in the same exact location. This was the first tornado of the day. The tornado then dissipated, but the tornadic supercell continued to produce multiple funnels as it

The third tornado of the day. Near Margaret, TX.

paralleled Highway 3103. 2.3 miles from the cross-section of Highway 6 and Highway 3103, the third tornado of the day began to produce. This tornado was able to fully condense for a few seconds before it began to lose condensation at the ground due to the pressure. This tornado had ground contact for 4 minutes before it completely dissolved. This tornado was rated an EF-2 by the National Weather Service in Norman, OK. After the

The fourth tornado developing to the right.

tornado lifted, I continued on Highway 3103, where I then drove east on Highway 98 towards Lockett, TX. When I reached Highway 70, I couldn't believe my eyes. Right in front of me was incredible cumulonimbus. As I got out of the car I noticed a rainbow, however, I did not notice until after taking a photo that a funnel was developing. This funnel then made ground contact and our fourth and final tornado of the day was ongoing. This tornado stayed on the ground for about 8 minutes and traveled

The fourth tornado.

3 miles before the tornado began its decaying stage and started to rope out. This tornado was rated an EF-1 by the National Weather Service in Norman, OK. After this tornado finally diminished, I continued to track the storm until I came upon tornado damage on Highway 433 near Highway 2074. After a few minutes of gathering information, I decided to head back north into Oklahoma where I did a little bit of storm

spotting for the county I live in. Nothing came from the storms I storm spotted, but that didn't matter much as I had captured 4 tornadoes less than 30 minutes prior. April 23rd, 2021, will go down as one of my best chases ever. I forecasted the setup correctly, never once lost sight of the supercell and the atmosphere rewarded me with 4 beautiful tornadoes because of it. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this blog about my storm chasing experience from April 23rd! Below I will leave a few links to videos I shot of the tornadoes and other things from that day. I hope that you have a great morning, day, or evening!




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