June 5, 1995

South Plains and Dougherty, Texas Tornadoes


Al Moller, Chuck Doswell, Martin Lisius and I met at the Lubbock, Texas NWSFO around 10 a.m. The forecast was fairly straight forward. An upper level circulation was evident in southern Colorado on the water vapor satellite imagery. An outflow boundary that had been in place for several days was still present between Amarillo and Lubbock. A surface low was located near Clovis, New Mexico with a dry line extending generally southward, bulging eastward to near Lubbock before curving back to near Midland. The target was east of the low and northeast of the dryline bulge, where rich moisture was returning along the east-west oriented outflow boundary.

We drove north from Lubbock to near Plainview and then east, where towering cumulus was developing.


Pointing to the target area east of Plainview on the 1:00 PM surface map.
Looking north at the first wall cloud.
Close-up of the eastern edge of the wall cloud.
Looking east at the first brief tornadic dust whirl produced by the storm. This tornado occurred on the eastern side of the wall cloud coincidentally with an intense RFD burst, barely missing a farmer's home.
Looking NNW at a dissipating meso on the left, and a strengthening meso on the right with a tornadic dust whirl underneath.
Looking north at a multiple-vortex tornado. Veteran storm chaser David Hoadly was shooting video of this event from the side of the road as I drove by.
One of many sub-vortices seen rotating around the larger tornadic circulation.
Another sub-vortex a few seconds later.  The image is grainy because I digitally enhanced the contrast to make the vortex easier to see.
Looking north as a tornado developed just WNW of South Plains, Texas.
Looking NNE as the tornado pictured above developed, another larger circulation was barely visible in the dark shadows underneath the large mesocyclone, to the NW of South Plains.
Several minutes later, several miles southeast of South Plains and a few miles northwest of Dougherty, looking north at a tornado located on the southwestern edge of the meso. Note the lightning and funnel at the top and bottom of the image.
Looking NNE at a second tornadic dust whirl, also located on the southern edge of the meso.
The tornado continued to develop.

The tornado moved just east of a farmer's home.

The tornado reached its maximum intensity.
The tornado's dissipation was heralded by a brilliant staccato CG.
Looking ENE, another tornadic dust whirl developed along the RFD / inflow shear line just SE of where the previous tornado dissipated.
Looking east as a burst of RFD blasted the circulation. I believe this dust plume was the one seen in Doswell's video which coincided with the multi-vortex stage of the quickly developing tornado, and immediately preceded the formation of the wedge tornado. Chuck was southeast of the developing tornado. A note for spotters, again the "back side", in this case west of the updraft which was where I was located, provided poor visibility, while the area ahead and southeast of the tornado, where Chuck and Al were located, provided a high contrast view, as evidenced by Chuck's video. However, Al and Chuck had to drive rapidly southward to stay ahead of the southeastward moving tornado.
Looking east, the dust dissipated as rotation focused on the developing wedge tornado hidden in the shadows to the left.
Looking WNW at my first glimpse of the rapidly intensifying wedge tornado. Chuck Doswell videoed the large tornado, as Al Moller photographed it from a location near Dougherty, Texas. Al and Chuck were a few tens of seconds ahead of me on this road. They had noticed a developing tail cloud further east and did not slow down as I did to view the smaller tornadoes pictured above. They drove east on this road and turned south before their path was blocked by the tornado. They made a gutsy move that paid big dividends.  I believe that I was actually closer than they were, but their view was not blocked by dust and rain curtains.
Visibility was poor due to blowing dust and wrapping rain curtains. The following series of video stills show my approach toward the large tornado. The contrast was electronically enhanced, but otherwise, these images are unmodified. The left side of the tornado is clearly visible in the images. Visually, I could also see the right side of the tornado. I considered driving closer, but I was not sure how far it was to the "south option" shown ahead on my map. Concerned about large hail and additional satellite tornadoes, I opted to turn around and try to intercept the tornado farther south. I had to negotiate the traffic lights in Floydada before I could turn east and intercept the storm.
The next several images are grainy as a result of digital processing to enhance the contrast. The tornado was partially obscured by dust and wrapping rain curtains.
Looking east - note the right side of the wedge was straight ahead down the road.
My closest approach - approximately 3/4s of a mile west of the tornado. Concerned about large hail, I made a u-turn and quickly left the area to attempt an intercept farther south.
Farther southeast near Jayton, Texas, Bruce Haynie photographed the storm structure of a severe hailstorm that developed on the southwest side of the thunderstorm complex.
The storm resembles a bull elephant, with inflow clouds resembling his trunk and tusks.
The storm dissipated shortly after sunset. 

  Copyright 1995 - Samuel D. Barricklow - All rights reserved.


Video of this event is available through Storm Stock


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Last revised: November 29, 2003