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Storm Chasing Trip Report: 4/28/21


On Wednesday, April 28, I headed to Abilene, Texas to chase the slight risk of severe weather in place that day.

Outbound: I-44 to US 277, which, once I pick up the mile or so I have left in St Louis from when it was extended over old I-70, will grab me a full clinch of I-44. From there, US 277 all the way to the Abilene metro area, then out I-20 east to stage near Baird, Texas.

Notes: Most of the towns along US 277 are actually on business loops. So there are effectively no stoplights after you leave Wichita Falls until you hit the town of Anson. Texas’ speed limits mean you can feasibly get from Wichita Falls to Abilene in a little more than 2 hours.

Chase time: Heading south out of Baird from the Love’s travel stop where we gassed up, US 283 south to Texas 36 east into Comanche County. At that point, we stopped as the cell we were chasing began a (brief) weakening trend. We thought we were done, but it began showing signs of life, so the chase was back on again. A series of Farm to Market Roads that I cannot remember all of brought us to Texas SR 16, which we took north to I-20 east into the DFW Metroplex.

As sunset approached, the storm continued to hold its intensity, so we bumped north of I-20 to stay out in front of it on FM 3325 and then FM 1886 over to Texas 199 in the Lake Worth area. We sat at the western side of Lake Worth for around 20 minutes, and as the storm began to close in on us, we began to punch east, then the tornado warning was issued and it was full go.

We hit I-820 around the north side of Fort Worth. I made the decision that, in order to stay with the circulation, we needed to bump north on US 377 and then ultimately east on one of the various city roads. We did so, but as we continued north, we unintentionally punched into the hail core which began throwing baseball size stones at us. This resulted in a slightly comical moment where my roommate, who was driving, heard one particular stone hit the car, saw the hail starting to accumulate on the roadway, and out loud voiced exactly what I was thinking, “Noooooope.” We nope’d back to the nearest gas station and waited out the hail, only to find it was too late as it had already dealt a blow to our windshield (right where the PikePass transponder is in the photo at the below link). At the same time this was occurring, by the way, hail was dealing a hard blow in Central Oklahoma as well.

Homeward: As the storm finally got out of reach, the warning was cancelled and we opted to make our way back north via I-35W and I-35 to OKC, arriving about midnight that night with no further damage to our already compromised windshield. 

Hail core punching...a time-honored traditional "oops"...


--- Quote from: froggie on May 05, 2021, 10:27:26 PM ---Hail core punching...a time-honored traditional "oops"...

--- End quote ---

The good thing was we didn’t get far into it.

The bad thing was we got just far enough to be an “oops”.

I've been in gorilla hail before. Out near Sedalia MO. Had to scoop out my pants afterward.

I vividly remember 3 core punches I had done on chases.

One was near Altus OK around 2008. My former college professor was out on the chase in a different vehicle a few miles away when he called us and said that he had a broken windshield from baseball hail and one student got glass in her arm from it. Where we were, My friends and I double backed toward Frederick to cross the Red River instead of using US 283. When we crossed the river, it was just this massive dust storm near Vernon with visibility under 100 feet for about 10 minutes.

Another one was south of Clarendon TX in 2008 on Hwy 70 as we were going through the eastern part of the Canyon Country. The fortunate thing was the hail was more mushy than rock hard but it was still half dollar sized. After crossing the Red River, the hail stopped and we got a cool, short lived landspout near Turkey.

The best one though was when I was still chasing with my former professor on the group chase in 2005. That whole 10 day chase was hail storm after hail storm. We avoided serious damage from softball hail in Mertzon TX, southwest of San Angelo. The following day, we weren't so lucky in Seminole TX with baseball hail breaking every windshield we saw in town.  That storm did produce an F2 tornado that we got in Patricia, about 30 miles east of Seminole.


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