The afternoon and evening of June 29th brought an outbreak of tornadic supercells to the high plains...including southeast Colorado, southwest Kansas, and the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. An isolated supercell developed near Panhandle, Texas...and produced at least five weak tornadoes near that city. The weak tornadoes were somewhat typical for West Texas. The relatively dry environment frequently does not permit for the visible condensation funnel of the tornado to reach the surface. Instead...a dust whirl is commonly visible beneath a funnel...telegraphing the damaging tornadic winds at ground level.
The first view of the developing tornadic storm was from a location just north of Panhandle...while enroute to intercept a tornadic storm moving through the north-central Texas Panhandle. The interesting shape of the developing storm stopped us in our tracks. The bell shaped base of the storm provided clues to the storm's organization...and indicates storm scale rotation. The storm's location south of the ongoing tornadic storms was also a clue of its potential...since it potentially had access to rich moisture and strong instability untapped by other convection.
The storm quickly organized into a well developed LP supercell with a significant bell shaped lowering. This unique view of the storm from the north shows an area etched away from the updraft's tower. This is indicative of the storm's organizing RFD.
This tornado formed along the updraft/RFD interface as the storm crossed Highway 207 just north of Panhandle. The dust whirl tornado persisted in open fields for three minutes.
The second tornado in the family developed south of the city of Panhandle...as the storm propagated southeast. This tornado persisted at least five minutes...and moved to the southeast of the city. The second view of the tornado shows a nub like funnel with a broad dust whirl beneath.
The third tornado near Panhandle...pictured above...was perhaps the strongest member of the family. The tornado was observed from a location along Highway 207 a few miles north of Conway. The storm transitioned into a wetter and more classic structure. The tornado appeared as a well developed funnel more than half way to the ground, and persisted for about seven minutes. While the third tornado was in progress...the fourth tornado (below) developed to our east. This tornado was brief, and formed under newly developing updrafts associated with the storm's southward propagation.
The third tornado roped out...nearly stretching its visible condensation funnel to the ground. Other very breif and less organzied tornadoes were observed with this storm before it dissipated. This photo below was taken just before the storm began to rapidly weaken, and occassional circulations were observed under the ragged area just left of the lowered cloud base. The final photo shows a second supercell storm which organized at sunset on the heels of the Panhandle storm. This storm proceeded to produce tornadoes after dark.
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