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May 26, 1999: Snowcones Falling from the Sky

Non-Tornadic Chase Through Western TX (Dave Lewison on Cloud 9 Tours)

Started the day in Midland and decided to head out towards the north where the best moisture looked to be headed. The target area was relatively nearby, so we took our time. Decided to pull off on hwy 115 to watch the situation for a while. There was an interesting sand dune park, so that made for a good place to occupy ourselves.

After writing out death threats to each other in the sands, we noticed a hard looking anvil off to the west in New Mexico. So, we headed west on hwy 128 into Jal, NM and then continued west underneath the storm's anvil. About 10 miles out, we cut south on a winding road that led right underneath the meso.

 0526wallcloud.JPG (7443 bytes) 0526inback.JPG (8126 bytes)video.jpg (3939 bytes) Near the back end of the storm's updraft was the RFD clear slot and what looked like a wall cloud. The rotation here was quite rapid, but it was anti-cyclonic!

We were worried that this storm might be dying out when we noticed another bomb going off way to the east where we had been about an hour before! Sticking to your target storm can be very hard sometimes...

0526bighail.JPG (6479 bytes)video.jpg (3939 bytes) 0526rainbow.jpg (6425 bytes)35mm.jpg (3927 bytes) While watching this interesting feature, Jim began to notice a few tennis ball hailstones falling. Time to book! We nearly ran over Bob trying to get out of there. The hail increased to almost softball size and it really resembled snowfall. Luckily, they were really soft hailstones, exploding when they hit the ground. We did add a few dents and cracks to the windshield though! Once through the hail, we took up a position to the SW of the updraft to take amazing pictures of the core with the "hailbow". It was impressive to say the least!
0526structure.JPG (6247 bytes)0526george.JPG (8791 bytes)video.jpg (3939 bytes) A lot further south of our previous position and headed east on I-20, we could see that our storm was not suffering much as we had thought before. You could actually see the main towers rotating in real time! There were reports of a tornado on the ground, but we just saw a real mean looking scud-nado and dismissed it. The storm gusted out as it was getting dark, so we pulled into Grandfalls south of the Interstate to watch the hail under a shelter. George & Bob had fun hiding under a piece of plywood while taking some wind measurements.

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Email me at: lewisd2@rpi.edu

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