TARGET: ALPINE/BIG BEND TEXAS
SPC had pushed the slight risk further south again into the Big Bend region of SW Texas. Given that we didn't have to far to travel from our overnight stopover at Fort Stockton, we decided to tie in a side trip to Big Bend National Park. What a spectacular place!!!! Towering mountains, sheer cliffs and sweeping vistas were the order of the day. On our last trip we were privileged enough to witness the grandeur of the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, Big Bend National Park runs a close second in terms of wow factor! There were a couple of weak storms to the east of the park that caught out attention but we decided to keep on exploring the park. We met a park ranger who warned us of flash flooding dangers closer to the Rio Grande river and sure enough we came across evidence of where water had crossed the road during earlier downpours. We made it the Rio Grande River and we were no more than 20m away from Mexico, just a stones throw across the river. Unfortunately our road option out of the park was dirt so it was not suitable for our vehicle so we had to back track through the park. There was a storm to the west of Alpine so we headed towards that. Arrived in Alpine and checked into our motel for the night with thunder rumbling overhead. Headed just north of town to let the storm pass over us and we were treated to some nice lightning and deep thunder! The storm moved over and once the rain had cleared we were able to see the backend of the cell which was illuminated beautifully by the setting sun. The cell threw a couple of clear air bolts out of the back but low cloud and fog quickly ruined the view.
TARGET: FORT STOCKTON
Target for today was Fort Stockton, SPC had issued a slight risk for the area. After spending the night at Childress we again awoke to gloomy, foggy, chilly conditions. Temps were again around 47F/8°C with a wind blowing! I thought it was supposed to be Spring in the USA, feels more like Winter! Still trying to catch up on sleep so woke up a bit tired again, now I know what jet lag feels like! Anyway got on the road to Fort Stockton plowing through the murk again, however hope was in sight with the Vis Sat showing a nice clearing in the target area so that lifted our spirits a bit. Got to Fort Stockton got some fuel and food and noticed several other chase vehicles in the area hanging around waiting for initiation. We didn't want to hang around town so we went about 5 miles south of town and waited for storms to get their act together. Numerous cumulus towers pushed up against the CAP and failed however one cell punched through and the chase was on. Headed back north then east along interstate 10,with the cell strengthening. Numerous powerful CGs were striking ahead of the strong looking core. We opted for a service road that ran alongside the I-1O which proved to be ideal as there was no traffic and it offered vantage points to observe from that we wouldn't have got on the Interstate. The storm seemed to hug the border of the USA and Mexico and with next to no road options and zero internet coverage we were sailing blind. We finally found a south road option and followed this in and out of mesas until we found a higher viewing area which afforded us a good view of the cell. However it stayed to the west of us and didn't come any closer so we called it a day.
TARGET: PLAINVIEW, TEXAS
After perusing the models a target of Plainview, Texas was settled on. Models had moderate instability with forecast soundings showing a reasonably decent profile. Still somewhat weary from the flight we took off from Limon, CO for out target area. The morning started off with temps around 45F which equates to about 5°C. Couple that with a pretty brisk and the wind chill would have had to be close to around 32F/0°C. The sky was a sea of grey fog and it wasn't till we were well south into Texas that skies began to clear and congestus/cumulus towers began to emerge on the horizon. We were distracted by an early storm near Amarillo, however the cell moved east and out of range. More storms south of Lubbock took our attention so we headed off that way. There are lots of road options in Texas, but most of the dirt roads had become unusable due to the amount of rain that had fallen over the past few weeks. With our road options now severely impaired chasing became very challenging. By the time we caught up with the storm at Lubbock it had weakened and our last hope was at Childress. We took off that way and managed to catch up with the cell but it was now dark and lightning pictures was all we could hope for. Got some nice keepers with the cell flashing like a strobe light! Lack of road options really cruelled our chance as most of our east options were useless. Still a reasonably successful day and great to be back and chasing the Great Plains of the USA