Photos from Monday, May 31, 2004

Severe thunderstorms developed Memorial Day afternoon across portions of north and central Texas, southeast to the Texas coast. The photo above shows one of the storms developing over eastern Coryell County. The photo was taken from my front yard about 6:50pm CDT. A Tornado Watch was in effect for the area and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued about the time I took this shot. I then headed north up State Highway 317 (SH-317) from Temple toward Moody to intercept the cell.

By shortly after 7:00pm, I was just south of Moody on the Bell-McLennan County line. I turned east on Stampede Road to get to slightly higher terrain, then took this photo looking west at the storm. The storm was crossing out of Coryell County into northern Bell and southern McLennan counties. As seen in this shot, the storm had a fairly large rain-free base (RFB, in the center and left of photo), with precipitation falling to the right of the RFB (right side of the photo). The large scud cloud shown down the center of the road was moving rapidly right to left when first observed, but slowed to a stop in the approximate position shown here.

The RFB continued to darken and expand, while the scud cloud began rising toward the RFB.

I began moving west back toward SH-317 (located just beyond the large 'tank' (i.e. pond) and stopped to take this photo about 7:20pm.

I crossed SH-317 and continued west on Stampede Road driving under the RFB, which continued to enlarge. The former scud cloud was beginning to acquire the look of a wall cloud.

About 7:30pm, I took this photo about 4 miles southwest of Moody looking west at the wall cloud that had developed under the RFB near the updraft/downdraft interface. There was definite rotation near the cloud base where the wall cloud penetrated the RFB, but only gentle rotation of the wall cloud at lower levels.

I spent about ten minutes in the area 4-5 miles southwest of Moody (in the Stampede community as shown on DeLorme maps), observing the wall cloud and watching brief circulations attempting to develop on the lowered edge closer to the precipitation area (right side). As the eastward moving storm brought the wall cloud closer to my position, I dropped south to FM-2601 at its intersection with FM-2409.

The change in my position put me a little farther from the wall cloud, and a in a better position to observe the pending evolution of the rear flank downdraft, which could be seen as a brightening of the sky southwest (left) of the wall cloud (not well depicted in this shot.

As seen from the FM-2601/FM-2409 intersection, the RFD began eroding the southern portion of the wall cloud as it advanced eastward and began wrapping into the wall cloud. 

As seen from the FM-2601/FM-2409 intersection, the RFD continued eroding the southern portion of the wall cloud. Strong westerly winds penetrated to my location at the time of this photo, and I prepared to head back to the east.

As seen from the FM-2601/FM-2409 intersection, the view to the north (this photo) was one of two inflow bands which wrapped into the  storm. The next photo  is the view to the northeast of the same bands seen in this photo.

 (See caption on previous photo.)

 I took one last shot of the wall cloud as it was being undercut by the RFD and then moved about 4 miles to the east-southeast, to a position on Franklin Road about 3 miles west-northwest of Troy.

 (See caption below next photo.)

 This photo and the previous one show the storm from the southern flank from Franklin Road at Willow Grove Road. The small lowering in the photo immediately above also had some cyclonic rotation, and I believe that this is the remnants of the rotating updraft that was earlier west of SH-317.

This is a composite of the two previous photos into one view. The two shots were made at almost the same moment as I looked (toward the north) almost straight up at the updraft and storm top, which spread west and southwest of the updraft. (My thanks to Ben Ranzinger of our graphics department at KWTX-TV for his fantastic blending of the two images.)

New development continued on the southern flank of the storm immediately east of the Franklin/Willow Grove intersection, and this photo and the subsequent one show the rapid, intense development that ensued. An attempt was made to get back to the southern flank of the new updraft but the road network kept me behind the storm as it moved east of the Troy area in northern Bell County.

 (See caption on previous photo.)

The chase ended in Troy at around 8:15pm, but the photo-ops didn't. This photo was made from the northwest loop in Temple a short time later as I made my way back home.

This photo was made from my neighborhood in Temple as the storms moved away to the east.

 The just-set sun provided colorful illumination of the storm tops as the rising moon played hide-and-seek with the clouds ...

The just-set sun provided colorful illumination of the storm tops as the rising moon played hide-and-seek with the clouds ...

The just-set sun provided colorful illumination of the storm tops as the rising moon played hide-and-seek with the clouds ...!

It was a beautiful end to Memorial Day, and I think it only appropriate to dedicate these images to those who have served our country and who have sacrificed life and limb so that all of us can be free to experience the wonders of our world and the sky that surrounds us.

Coming soon ... a nexrad loop of the storms on May 31, 2004!!!