Tennessee Colony, Texas Tornado Intercept

Chase Day: May 4, 1999

Just a day after the devastating Oklahoma-Kansas outbreak, a strong tornado formed beneath a low-precipitation (LP) supercell thunderstorm at Tennessee Colony, Texas on May 4, 1999. The isolated storm formed in sun-warmed air south of a large complex of severe thunderstorms located in North Central and Northeast Texas. The storm maintained its LP structure for nearly two hours near and west of Fairfield before drifting northeast toward Tennessee Colony, a small community just northwest of Palestine. The tornado touched down at about 7:00 PM CDT and tracked east-northeast toward my position as I looked southwest (photo, left). We had stopped at the only clearing the forested region would yield, atop a treeless hill, occupied by a solitary trailer home. My chase partner, Taryn Hazelwood, warned the occupants of the trailer and they departed abruptly in their car, with tires smoking. We soon joined them as the roar of the tornado grew. We returned to the same spot moments later and were greeted by a shower ofsmall debris, including leaves and dead birds floating like angels back to earth. Damage to the nearby prison was substantial (photo, center).

Taryn's first tornado (photo, right)

Photos by Martin Lisius and Taryn Hazelwood.