Possum Kingdom Lake Hail Monster

April 5, 2003

Click here for a video of this chase. One thing I had never seen while chasing was a massive turn-the-ground-white hail core. Now I have. Short story: HP-ish beast monster storm with two significant hail core intercepts w. vehicle damage. Got on the storm in extreme eastern Stonewall County west of Sagerton. It presented an supercell characteristics but outflow underneath the action area. We saw no tornado here. There was some low-hanging scud cigar that looked like a tornado. The tornado must have been earlier. As RJ and Bobby punched the storm to find hail, it developed a very large, very low shelf-ish wall cloud that had broad rotation with it, but it never tightened up.

Our approach to the storm from the east-northeast.

Near Sagerton, TX. Action area is undercut by outflow, but trying to be a wall cloud.

Shelf cloud now standing more vertically under the meso.

Southwestern end of shelf cloud from our view. Shelf cloud lines the mesocyclone.

Wrapping, undercut mesocyclone. Clouds in front moving left to right (S to N), inflow tail moving right to left (NE to SW) in background.

We moved east then decided the best cloud base convergence was a few miles north of us, so we went north to Haskell. Oops! It seemed the storm actually turned more southeast at this point. We were greeted with heavy hail, but I refused to leave the storm, and drove through. Soon, everything was white with hail up to golfball size, and the roads were becoming rather slippery. Stopped for a minute or two underneath a gas station awning until the hail stopped. Hood of the car is now peppered with dents, left front signal light cover gone, and sunroof glass cracked. (Car is 11 years old). My ears were ringing afterwards.

Hail in Haskell.

Hail in Haskell.

Drove east to Throckmorton, but the updraft base was well south of us, so we zig-zagged southeast to get back in front of it. Front side of the updraft barrel we saw had the most rapid upward motion I've ever seen on such a feature, as the long, somewhat cumuloform inflow band turned and went up. Soon, the map showed we needed to go northeast to Graham, then back southeast, but looked to the northeast: hail core. Other option was to go south-southwest and skirt the southern edge of the rain-filled meso and get back ahead later on. South we went. We found out very soon that we weren't going to go south *ahead* of the meso, but through it. Having heard the reports of baseball to grapefruit hail and 80-mph winds with this thing, we did not want to taste what was inside the rain-filled meso, so we made a last-ditch effort to stay ahead and grabbed a county gravel road straight east. This worked fairly well, but the meso was right on our back bumper, and we even saw a baseball shatter on the road about 100 feet in front of us... NOT a good feeling.

The gravel road came to a "T" intersection, where a paved road went north-south. That ended it for us. Tried to stick with the idea of going south. We started to get misty, atomized rain from the southern flank of the meso for about a mile or so, so I started to feel a little better, but then in a span of about 100 feet, tennis balls were added to that. Ducked into a driveway behind a little knoll with mesquite trees around, and waited out another barrage of hail up to tennis balls. Fortunately, none of them hit the car in such a manner to cause additional damage, but the hail was rather heavy again, and the aroma of freshly shredded mesquite wafted heavily through the vehicle.

Hail-filled mesocyclone behind us.

Hail-filled mesocyclone coming in fast from the right.

Waiting out the meso. View out sunroof (hail is nearly done at this point).

A look at the hail. Tennis ball size.

A look at my car at the end of the chase.

Headed back home through Fort Worth, dodging supercells along the way through the metroplex. Very intense chase, but not sure what to make of it overall, as I usually like to stay out of hail cores. The road options went from mediocre to horrible. For every 10 miles east-northeast you want to go, it's necessary to drive 10 south then 2 west then 1 south then 15 north then 5 east then 1 north. Arghhh!!

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