Account From Hp Beast Chase Near Camp Wood, Tx
This day started with a lot of early activity and not a lot of time to prepare, or forecast in the morning. The area I liked from the day before was over by Junction / Sonora Tx and a bit south and north of there. For some reason SPC really didnít have much of anything in this area early on. Something about the 700ís coming through and taking all the instability clearing from the south, but a quick look to their Mesoanalysis product showed this was not the case. Instability and tornadic parameters were high in this area for both forecast products and current analysis. Some of the upper dynamics were thinning a bit, but they were still there to some degree. Hmm...seems I recall worry a bit about subsidence from the 500mb activity, but I think I worried about that a bit on the 28th for the area near Childress to the west and you know what happened that day.
This morning before much could be done a cell began going tornadic to my south down south of Wimberly and Dripping Springs. It was headed straight for David Douglasís house. Gene M, jumped out on the road from San Antonio and attempted an intercept. From what I hear it was an incredibly nice looking storm at the time; however that area from IH35 over toward hwy 281 nearing Wimberly, and Dripping is very hilly, wooded, and without hardly any roads. Whatever roads there are, are very poor quality and very winding. Gene followed it until he couldnít go any further. Later there was a confirmed tornado about 4 miles from David Douglasís house. I would have considered an intercept but it was straight across town from me to the south during Austin rush hour, and some of you know how bad that can be. The roads also donít really go that way particularly when you get over by Loop 1 and hwy 290. However that storm was also headed toward my house right on the edge of Williamson county. This made me a bit nervous as I donít like torns hitting the house (obviously). Plus, around me there are poor roads for getting around due to congestion also. Fortunately that cell dissipated, but then another formed a bit to the south and west of the first tornadic one. It also showed a lot of rotation and promise. Iím pretty sure I had time to intercept this one - though it seemed a bit risky by taking highway 1431 west toward Marble Falls. Talk about a zig zag up and down winding road...that is 1431. I didnít want to be crunched by a tornadic supercell with big hail on a back road like 1431, but I decided I could get to hwy 281 before it hit. I was right and got there right as the cell was hitting Marble Falls. The core was already upon this town and it was crossing to the east so I decided to go up to Burnett and intercept there. That worked well as I hit hwy 29 to the east after getting a brief wifi connect in town. Just barely east of downtown I waited on a hill as the area of rotation approached. I had a pretty good vantage point with dashcam running but turns out whatever it had was pretty much wrapped in rain. I let it pass, and then decided to head west and get out of all the darn clouds and find some instability / clearing & heating.
Long story short I headed to my target area from the night before and raced south toward RockSprings as a supercell was developing down near Del Rio. Sometime close to getting to Rock Springs they issued a Tornado Warning on this flying eagle cell. For those of you that donít know this area is very interesting, scenic, and rugged. There a hills nearly the size of mountains with lots of creeks, rivers, and winding roads. At Rock Springs I took hwy 55 toward Camp Wood. There are hardly any roads out here. You have to choose to go into the storm, or try and get in front, but you may end up way in front. You have to pick your roads and timing carefully. With David Douglasís help on the phone I did ok, and just managed to round the front of this approaching cell with all itís embedded rotation showing on Threatnet. At the time it didnít look all that bad along the way and I stopped for some scenic views.
On one such stop I saw some goats. Yep, I had to make goat sounds and be one with nature. At this point I realized one of the little fellows was trapped in the fence. His head was stuck. So, I walked down the big incline on the side of the road down to the goats. All the while this guy was just thrashing trying to get away from me. Guess he thought I was going to eat him. I tried to calm him. I was afraid he was going to gore my hand with his horns on a thrash. However I managed to pull enough on the hog type wire just for one horn to finally pull clean. As soon as it did this guy just yanked back and he was out. He took off running for about 50 yards and then finally stopped and looked back at me. I told him he was welcome. There I am triumphant. Bill the savior of goats! LOL!
After that I finally get to Camp Wood and still have about 20 to 30 minutes I believe until the storm gets close enough to really observe well. Camp Wood is the oddest looking town. It is just tiny and back country, and very odd. It is hard to describe, but for some reason I had visions of Mel Gibson in Mad Max passing in my mind along with some of those ragged desert kids dressed in rags with bizarre hair cuts and dirt on their face. I dunno...maybe it was just me. I thought I was going to miss some tornadoes and I needed to get closer so I found this dirt park road - River Road to county road 35A and B. Turns out along the way this road crosses the Nueces River in a low water - damned up fording road (hard to describe). This looked like fun and I had to cross. Actually there was quite a bit of traffic on this road - I was surprised. Once across I realized this really wasnít a good road for getting anywhere. It did occur to me that this storm to my west could flash flood this road and I would be stuck unable to cross. It was winding too slow to get very close to the storm anytime anyway. Good thing I turned around. I donít really know what I was thinking. Apparently I thought this was a gentle rain shower approaching- NOT! Maybe my clue was that it was tornado warned...or perhaps that Threatnet had all those shear markers - haha.
I passed through town to the south and noticed all the locals including the Sheriff were holed up in a local hole in the wall restaurant on the very south edge of town. I went just a bit further and started observing the storm structure, very dark area to the west coming over the nearby mountain to the west. Right about this time I also noticed another chaser or spotter in a light goldish brown van with one of those weather stations on top. He was standing in the drivers door and shooting video or something to the west. I finally found a spot too, as there were some Mesquite trees blocking the view and I had to find a good clearing. Probably I should have pulled up and said ĎHií as we were the only folks around, but I didnít. I managed to get out and walk toward the fence when some large hail started zinging down and hit the pavement and my vehicle intermittently. Most of them were golf ball size at the time. I didnít want to get whacked with one of those so I immediately headed back for the vehicle. I snapped off some quick shots with the digital camera, but had not time to compose any of the shots. The sky had become dark - almost black to the west and north over stretching me and pregnant with threats. It was very dark. Apparently I had overstayed my welcome. For some reason I forgot I was right on the point of this now enormous storm with the embedded area of HP rotation approaching me. Then I heard a roar begin that was louder than any other hail roar I ever heard. It was like standing near a number of loaded B52ís as they were taking off - like a jet engine and also like a large waterfall. That was enough for me!!
I punched it and headed south trying to clear this storm, but I was already deeply in it. Actually now thinking about it, I probably was in some type of HP notch. I soon realized how deep in I was as the hail got bigger and bigger at least to the size of baseballs Iíd say, and winds were picking up beginning to roar a bit across the road. I had my trusty hail goggles on - off and on, and also was running my dashcam off and on. At first I was just in too much a hurry to run it, and I thought maybe that was asking for a bit much. I just wanted out at this point. I made it a few miles down the road as the deluge increased, and then I realized my road turns west and further into the storm for a few miles before heading back SSE!! Ahhh! I went as quickly as I could considering the driving conditions. Wind was roaring across the road I donít know how fast - hail was falling (mostly smaller now, off and on), but the rain was just blinding and I was afraid Iíd hydroplane or get blown off the road. I felt I had to clear this area because I wasnít really sure what I was tangling with. I agree though it was a fine time to discover this. I drove and drove through this mess at one time driving toward a big blue curtain of precip and hail directly west of the road. I forget if I went through it or slipped by. Somehow I managed to not lose any windows. Amazing! There were also some lowerings and areas of rotation in the rain as I whizzed quickly by. Finally I broke out about 15 to 18 miles to the south of Camp Wood!! That gives you some idea of how big a mess it was. Relief......
I found a side road and began taking what shots I could as the storm passed me to the north. Here I saw some lowerings, but not much rotation. I called in the hail. It was getting dark. I headed south to Uvalde and got gas. I was going to proceed east and beat it to San Antonio but areas of rotation were already crossing the road in the dark to my east and blocking my path. I wasnít going into this thing again in the dark! I turned around and ate in Uvalde at Golden Corral. I love these for chaser food because you can find fairly healthy food like salads. I followed the storm and saw some accidents along the way with flooding and cops, and emergency vehicles. There were also overturned signs along I10, etc. I got in about 1am or 2am. Definitely an exciting day!
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