Friday, April 6, 2012

4/3/2012 Sulphur Springs, TX Tornado

Tuesday was a very active weather day across North and East Texas with numerous severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. I went chasing and caught a storm developing over Rains County. By the time we reached Sulphur Springs a tornado warning was issued for strong rotation south of the city. What surprised us was on the back side of the supercell, to the northwest of the radar indicated tornado, we started to notice rapid rotation to our north moving towards Sulphur Springs. The video below shows what we saw.
video
Now the image below shows the approximate area where the tornado in this video was shot. I know I mentioned I did not see any power flashes in the video but after watching the video closely, it appears there were two power flashes. One around 10 seconds in behind the funnel and another at 16 seconds ahead of the funnel.

Now the image below is a photo showing the funnel the the east of Sulphur Springs. At this time we did not notice any power flashes and thanks to the tree line it is hard to tell if it is on the ground.
The next image shows the velocity data and where the approximate location of the funnel. It looks as though the radar is starting to show a new area of converging rotation forming where the photo was taken.

As we continued to follow the storm, rotation was easily seen with every once in a while a thin funnel appearing to touch down. The next image shows the biggest funnel that did touchdown just on the south side of I30 knocking down at least one tree.
The image below show much stronger converging rotation near the location of the image above.
It should be noted that this storm was around 95 miles away from the Ft. Worth Doppler Radar with the lowest tilt hitting the storm just above 11,000' in elevation. So there is no way of knowing what the lowest levels of the storm looked like on radar as the video and photos were shot. Based on what we saw it looks as though Sulphur Springs got pretty lucky as what could have been a tornado going through town either stayed just off the ground or dissipated right before hitting town.