The Majestic Supercell
The Beauty of Patricia
This magnificent supercell hurled hailstones bigger than baseballs and spawned at least three tornadoes while spinning its way across the southernmost fringes of the Great Plains, between Midland and Lubbock. Maybe we could have sampled the hail, or gotten a little closer to two of the tornadoes we saw, but the experience of this scene alone leaves absolutely no regrets. We drove over a thousand miles in 21 hours, round-trip, and every minute and mile was well worth one of the most visually stunning storms so far this century. In this 24 mm focal length, super-wide angle view, most of the basic elements of a classic supercell (this was not "LP"!) can be seen: sweeping anvil at upper left, inflow tail at lower left, circular main updraft, big wall cloud beneath, and at right, the visual vault region and forward-flank core. A streak of dust angles upward from ground level, in front of the wall cloud. This marks a plume of inflow winds, pulling untold hundreds of tons of topsoil off dry, fallow fields much like the one in the foreground. This supercell later would produce several brief tornadoes and one longer lasting vortex that was visible to us.
6 NNW Patricia TX (5 May 6) Looking WSW