April 22nd, 2010 Texas Panhandle Tornadofest
April 22nd, 2010 Texas Panhandle Tornadofest




This was the first great chase day of 2010, one I didnt screw up completely, just a little. This set of days (April 20-22) was looking really good for days. April 21 and 22 were targeted by most for Panhandle chases for that entire week leading up. April 20th caught everyone off guard and only the panhandle chasers got anything from that day as a rogue supercell formed west of Amarillo and dropped a big tornado that I caught from 10 miles away. April 21st provided a decent warm up day for the 22nd, but was only really good for a few sunset and lightning photos. Expectations had been high for the 21st, but the 22nd would make up for any let down.

The 22nd was one of those days you just know tornadoes would happen and lucky for me the main target was not even an hour from home. I started out the day by swinging over to the South side of Pampa to stay off the boundary far enough while I did some data analysis. After an hour I moved down to I-40 to meet up with fellow chasers. Before long there was a group of atleast 5 cars in our spot as we watched the towers go up while we listened to the Twister score over my stereo. Our group split into 2 from here as I went with 2 of the vehicles south to intercept along 287, while the other 2 stayed put for the storms to get to them there at I-40.

Storm A was close to producing as it crossed 287, but still needed about more 20 minutes to make it happen. After it moved north of the highway our group started to follow it back north, but I broke off and went after storm B that had blown up behind it. My reasoningwas it had a better enviroment to work with. I found a nice hill and watched this storm for 20 minutes, but I began to fear it was not going to produce and the storm to the north would. I was 50% wrong. The storm up north would produce, but so would storm B.

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I began to move back to the northeast so I could could keep both storms in play, but while I was driving east, not even 5 minutes, I noticed storm B was already dropping a tornado. I quickly returned to the storm and found the nearest hill to setup. I watched it for atleast 10 minutes from that hill till I decided to get closer, so I packed up and started to fly towards the tornado headed northwest along 287. I got within decent range for the rope out, but should have started that way much sooner (still happy with the video I got though).

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After the tornado from storm B had been on the ground 30 minutes it roped out, so I jetted north to I-40 to intercept again. This time I would be joining the crowds who had been on I-40 for storm A that just produced. I was able to get back ahead of storm B near Alanreed and found a hill about 10 miles north of the interstate, but it would end being north of the track of the storm, so I would have to fly back south (almost getting hit by a tornado no more than a half mile from the highway when I was headed back south). Saw atleast 3 more tornadoes from that hill north of Alanreed. After that, it was clear the storm was done, so my attention turned elsewhere (further south).

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I began to blast south for the isolated beast of a storm near Paducah, which meant I was going to have to cover atleast 2 counties in short time. I was able to make this decision before most others and didnt have to deal with a line of cars for most of the drive. I did get a little behind stopping for gas and ended up in the middle of the TIV crew near Childress, which slowed me down some. I ended running into my friends I started the day hanging out with to catch my last tornado of the day near Paducah well after dark. I drove to Lubbuck after the chase and had to dodge a few more storms on my way there. Overall it was a really great chase though I wish I would have been a little less indecisive and could have got a lot closer than I ended up with that first tornado. Lesson learned though. I know now to trust my gut and just go for it.

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Here is where I drove on this day.
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Here is the video from April 22, 2010.