Lamb-Hale-Swisher County, Texas Tornadic Supercell

Chase Day: April 21, 2007

A classic, large negatively tilted upper-level trough was progged to move into West Texas by late in the day today. I wanted to focus on the area just south of the Texas Panhandle where I expected better instability and more discrete, right-moving storms. My morning target was Plainview, updated to Tulia by early afternoon. A steady steam of information was delivered to me via cell phone by William Reid to keep me on track.

I passed through Tulia and headed west to Nazareth to get out from beneath the stratus. I watched towering cumulus grow in the sun to the northwest, west and southwest from there as I chatted with chaser David Hoadley. Soon, strong storms formed north of Hobbs, New Mexico. I calculated they would move northeast into good air over the South Plains west of Lubbock. I dropped south and intercepted the strongest storm near Littlefield. A little high-based at first, it soon lowered as it passed into a 57F degree moisture axis that stretched from Littlefield to Dimmit. Low-level rotation developed, followed by a wall cloud and then a funnel. The first tornado touched down just southeast of Olton at 6:55 PM. In the beginning, the tornado was a fat cone with a horizontal swirl cloud feeding into it. The tornado tracked northeast for about 35 minutes, then a new circulation developed west of Kress as the first tornado weakened. This circulation produced a tornado at Tulia which lasted until dark. I watched that tornado from the south as I attempted to get east of it. I spent most of my time driving, not shooting, to stay with the storm. I witnessed about an hour of tornadoes with the last one being near Vigo Park. That tornado was a black, slender coned on the ground for only a few seconds. At that time, the older Tulia tornado was still visible to the northwest. When I left the storm, it was still rotating hard and eventually produced a large tornado near US 297 according to chaser Sam Barricklow.

On the way home, I stopped briefly at Estelline where a country music concert was taking place in the town square. Flashes of lightning from the approaching storms lit the faces of the performers as the audience stood ready to run to cover.

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