Last night in Clovis NM I awoke a number of times to bright lightning and booming peals of thunder, usually music to a stormchaser’s ears Yesterday’s storms had coalesced into a mesoscale convective system (MCS) that poured rain down across a wide area of eastern NM and western TX, moisture desperately needed by the folks suffering from severe drought. However this MCS lasted a good portion of the night and was still going strong this morning, not a good thing for today’s chase setup.
The rain-cooled air and strong outflow boundaries from the large complex of storms basically threw the atmosphere a knuckleball today…and we whiffed on it. Using the available models, surface data, and Storm Prediction Center discussions we targeted the southeastern corner of New Mexico and rolled out the parking lot by 9:15 a.m. (MDT). But as we splashed southward through the flooded countryside – plowing through substantial puddles in several towns – it became clear that we needed to push further south into sunshine. A line of strong storms had already formed east of us which was not something we had anticipated, nor was the strong outflow boundary pushed out by the nocturnal storms. Said boundary was well south of us and steaming away from us as we drove.
Thus we wound up south of I-20 in far western Texas and targeted a cell that was the right hand twin of a splitting updraft: