Pampa-Lefors, TX Supercell (11 October 2011)
* *  Mike Umscheid PHOTOGRAPHY & STORM CHASE BLOG   * *


About This Shoot
Date: 11 October 2011
Location: Eastern Texas Panhandle from Pampa to Alanreed, TX
Shoot Type: Storm Chase
Rating:
Synopsis:
Intercepted a beautifully sculpted supercell thunderstorm that first started off as a run-of-the-mill hailstorm in Pampa. The storm rapidly organized into a supercell southeast of Pampa as it rolled southeast through the ranch land of Gray County near the town of Lefors. I photographed the storm in amazing evening light from the Texas Highway 70 corridor west/southwest of the storm.

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Preliminary Storm Reports from 11 October 2011


1630 UTC SPC Products from 11 October 2011


Categorical Convective Outlook

Probabilistic Tornado Outlook

Probabilistic Hail Outlook

Probabilistic Wind Outlook

Evening Meteorological Charts from 11 October 2011


250mb Chart

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11 October 2011

Pampa-Lefors, TX Supercell


Fri, 14 Oct 2011 03:40:19 -0500
Pampa hailstorm
Pampa-Lefors, TX Supercell Summary & Images (part 1)
Pampa hailstorm.  After a hearty lunch in Amarillo and a brief visit to Palo Duro Canyon S.P., I began my chase by heading north back into eastern Amarillo then east on I-40 to Conway.  I was most interested in a cluster of towering cumulus to my north about 20 to 30 miles away.  These towers festered for awhile as I watched from a truck stop at Conway along I-40 and Highway 207.  An echo soon became apparent on radar tied to the healthiest looking updraft tower to my north-northeast, so I drove north toward Panhandle.  This was the birth of the initial hailstorm that went on to affect Pampa.  I followed the storm northeast on Highway 60 toward Pampa, experiencing some pea size hail along the way from Kings Mill to the southwestern portion of Pampa.  I decided to head north just a little bit on the west side of town on Ranch 282 and found a place to observe the onslaught of hail near the intersection of Ranch 282 and Highway 152.  The hail lasted 5 to 7 minutes around 5:45pm or so and covered the ground for a brief period of time with the hail only as large as penny to nickel size at the largest.

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A new, more significant updraft emerges south of Pampa. Go south or southeast?
Pampa-Lefors, TX Supercell Summary & Images (part 2)
So, I departed Pampa after the hail ended, but I wasn't entirely sure whether to go southeast or due south.  I saw the new big updraft base to my immediate south/southwest and had a strong feeling that would be supercellular very soon... and move straight southeast or even south-southeast.  I also weighed in the possibility that photography light might be better being due south or even southwest of the primary updraft.  I was on Highway 273 just south of Pampa and decided to take Highway 70 south...instead of Highway 273 southeast to Lefors.  Here are a few images of the early stages of the updraft base about to really ramp up and take on supercellular characteristics... at around 6:20pm... about 5 miles south of Pampa just east of Highway 70:

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Supercell structure emerges to the northeast.
Pampa-Lefors, TX Supercell Summary & Images (part 3)
I continued my drive south on Highway 70 south of Pampa to stay ahead of the main updraft area, and in doing so, the structure of the supercell became much improved.  As viewed from the south-southwest, the storm structure was quite impressive with a long rear-flank gust front approaching me along Highway 70 and multi-tiered banded structure of the main updraft area farther to the northeast.  Here are a few images during that stage shortly after 6:30pm:

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A formidable wall cloud emerges
Pampa-Lefors, TX Supercell Summary & Images (part 4)
About 10 to 15 minutes later, farther south along Highway 70 (probably 12 miles or so south of Pampa), I stopped again to photograph the storm structure to my northeast.  The sun was getting lower and the light was improving (becoming softer).  To my surprise, a big, blocky wall cloud emerged beneath the base of the supercell.  For a moment, the bottom portion of the wall cloud was being illuminated by the sun.  I used a distant farm house to my advantage as a foreground subject to the wall cloud farther back.  The rear flank gust front had a rather striated look to it as it extended a good distance west-southwestward from the wall cloud area.  Time of the following images around 6:45pm:

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Using a windmill to my advantage as storm structure consolidates
Pampa-Lefors, TX Supercell Summary & Images (part 5)
I wanted to drive east a little bit off of Highway 70 to try to get a little closer to the primary updraft area, so I took one of the several unpaved roads that went east a couple miles before dead-ending.  Along the way on one of these roads, I came across a windmill -- one of my favorite subjects to shoot with storms -- and just went to town photographing the awesome scene at around 6:50pm:


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Wide angle storm structure
Pampa-Lefors, TX Supercell Summary & Images (part 6)
From the same location, I also photographed a few wide angle images with the windmill at around 7:00pm as the supercell storm continued to move southeast near Lefors, TX:



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The mothership at sunset!
Pampa-Lefors, TX Supercell Summary & Images (part 7)
After photographing the sequence at the first windmill, I continued south on Highway 70 a few more miles and went east on Ranch 2477 (the road to Lake McClellan).  I stopped again when I came across another windmill, only this one without blades... and used this as a foreground subject to photograph what was now becoming an incredible striated barrel updraft to my east.  It was right around sunset time at about 7:10 to 7:15 when I photographed the sequence of images below:

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Structure at twilight near Lake McClellan
Pampa-Lefors, TX Supercell Summary & Images (part 8)
I continued east and southeast on Ranch 2477 stopping intermittently along the way to I-40 after sunset to photograph the structure of the supercell off to the east.  There was a left-split storm moving northeast to eventually merge with the main supercell storm, although this ended up being more of a destructive merger (in combination with the fact that instability was rapidly declining with loss of insolation).  When I got to I-40, I continued east to Alanreed and went south on Ranch 291, but by this point, the storm was not photogenic anymore and the rising full moon was in a bad position providing harsh light in the direction of the decaying and departing storm.  All in all, this was one incredible chase for October -- probably the most impressive supercell, structure wise, I have photographed in the month of October.

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Fri, 14 Oct 2011 14:23:37 -0500
-Lefors Supercell 2011- This October supercell was producing baseball size at around this time at a gas station in Lefors, TX
  
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Wed, 12 Oct 2011 12:26:34 -0500
-Postseason in the Panhandle- A beautiful October supercell thunderstorm at sunset over the eastern Texas Panhandle near the small town of Lefors on. 11 October 2011
  
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Tue, 11 Oct 2011 20:07:48 -0500
chase update 8pm. Storm is weakening, calling it a chase. Extremely pleased with how the chase turned out photography wise. Back to Dodge

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 19:14:51 -0500
chase update 711pm. on the Lake McLellan Road... look at the structure!! 4 or 5 tiered striated barrel going straight up into the stratosphere

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 18:32:26 -0500
chase update 630pm. awesome supercell structure from the southwest in sunlight.. great hailstorm! will get to I-40 then head east for sunset shots

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 15:17:30 -0500
chase update 312pm. clearing sky, 80 degrees, upper 50s dewpoints, CAPE 1500-1800 developing e.TX Panhandle. At Palo Duro SP watching sky

Tue, 11 Oct 2011 10:07:12 -0500
Chase Day 11 October 2011. Target: Eastern Texas Panhandle from Pampa to Turkey
I left Dodge City early this morning for a lunchtime destination of
Amarillo. After lunch, I will hone in on a more defined target
somewhere not too far east of Amarillo. Today appears to be a good
storm day with excellent deep layer directional shear, some surface
moisture, and cool mid level temperatures (around -14C at 500mb). This
is expected to result Surface-based CAPE around 1000-1300 J/kg. If
higher moisture can be realized (like what the RUC and HRRR suggest),
then SB CAPE may approach 2000 J/kg locally... especially southeast of
Amarillo. Storms should form in surface convergence near or just east
of Amarillo by 4 or 5pm and become supercells shortly thereafter. At
least that is the hope, and the reason I decided to make a run at this
autumn storm chase. Plus, the prospects of photographing a nicely
structured storms in the canyon lands is too good to pass up. So here's
to some October Panhandle Magic! -Mike U
  
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