May 16, 1989 - Bushland, Texas HP Supercell Tornado

Early morning fog on highway 82 during ascent up the eastern edge of the Caprock. I went to the Lubbock NWS, checked the data and chose the area north and west of Amarillo for chasing.

I met Al Moller and Chuck Doswell north of Amarillo, on the southern side of the Canadian river valley. We were all watching a storm that had already tornadoed and was in an outflow dominant stage.  A large donut shaped area was rotating cyclonically (counterclockwise). Apparently remnants of a mesocyclone that had enlarged and weakened after producing a tornado. (Looking north.)

Chuck Doswell videoed the storm.

Al Moller returns to his car to get a different camera lens.

After hearing of another storm farther southwest, we drove to Bushland, Texas, west of Amarillo on the interstate.

As we approached the storm, I caught several glimpses of a large funnel imbedded in the rain. Looking southwest. An HP supercell thunderstorm was located SW of Bushland. The focus of the HP updraft is behind the utility pole. The rounded area to the left of the utility pole is the rotating mesocyclone, filled with precipitation (i.e. large hail and rain).

A better shot of the notch.

The first tornado dust whirl that was attached to the cloud base.

If you look closely, you can see the funnel at cloud base to the upper right of the dust whirl.

Looking west at a low ragged inflow band (beaver tail) flowing from right to left (north to south). We were about one-half to one mile east of this inflow band during most of this sequence of photos. This is the optimum position to spot a tornado produced by an HP storm. And, it is usually the direction that the storm is moving, so you must have a clear escape route.

This was the first view of the developing tornado. In the frame, it is located left of the utility pole above the overhead door on the building in the foreground. I quickly reported the developing tornado to the Amarillo SKYWARN net. We were the only spotters/chasers who could see the tornado. None of the local spotters could verify our report. They were east, south or southwest of the storm and did not have a good viewing angle into the "notch".

A wider view of the storm as the tornado develops (behind the utility pole). Still looking southwest.

Condensation extended to the ground revealing the tornado.

 

The tornado momentarily weakens (left of the utility pole), but a funnel remains evident.

The tornado strengthened and extended to the surface again.

 

Looking SSW, the tornado reached maximum size and strength.

 

 

Rain began to wrap around and obscure the tornado.

The tornado is barely visible near the center of the image.

The meso enlarged and weakened after the tornado dissipated. The storm continued moving northeast into Amarillo where it produced large hail, high winds and a brief, small tornado. Most damage in the city was produced by hail and high straight line winds.

Copyright 1989 - Samuel D. Barricklow - All rights reserved.

These images were made using a Sharp VC-C20U VHS video camera and were digitized by a Snappy box.


Video of this event is available through StormStock.


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Last revised: November 30, 2008