Tuesday, May 15, 2012

5/15 - 11:30am CDT - Excitement in Southwest Texas Yesterday

My apologies for not having a blog post last night. We're in the Big Bend National Park area of Texas and there was little to no cellular data service where we stayed last night. Our travels along the Mexican border region of Southwest Texas yesterday were quite exciting though. We started off in Pecos, Texas and traveled south to Paradisio, Texas right on the border. We waited here for some storms to form before heading eastward to intercept them. Most of these storms were clustered together, but there were a couple cells that stayed independent that came toward us and crossed the border. The tornado threat wasn't realized yesterday because low-level shear did not play out as forecast due to unfavorable surface winds and multiple storms contaminating each other with cold outflow air. As we drove on the mountainous road along the Rio Grande river (yes there was a certain Duran Duran song of the same name stuck in my head) there was not much cell service so we had very limited radar updates. We drove east of Lajitas, Texas as the strongest cell at the time came at us rather quickly with no escape. Our vehicles pulled to the side of the road near a rock wall and that shielded us from the brunt of the golf ball size hail that came down.

This storm put down a huge amount of rain, so much so that the residents in this area that we talked to hadn't seen something like it in over four years. The deluge quickly overwhelmed the ground and widespread flash flooding took place. Our road east along the border was flooded by a foot of water at one point, so we stopped for an hour to let the water level drop. 6 or more inches of water is dangerous to drive through. The rushing rapids going over the road brought some pretty big rocks and debris, but luckily none of this was too big for a hand toss to the side of the road. Our group then continued on to a town just outside the Big Bend park area where we spent the night. I have some great video of the hail and flood yesterday that I'll try to upload once we get to a hotel with internet service.

Today's storm setup in Texas looks very marginal so we're touring the Big Bend area and then heading north so we can be ready for storms that may form in Eastern Colorado later on this week. With limited moisture in the Plains it might be hard to find some good storms over the next few days. We'll make the best of it!

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