May 16th 2021 | Stunning Low-Precipitation Supercell near Lubbock, Texas
We journeyed overnight from Illinois to west Texas in hopes of a late-evening structure show and we were not disappointed. Unfortunately, when given a coin flip decision between two percolating areas, one north and one south of Lubbock we chose the south option. When presented with the same data I'd make the same decision 10 out of 10 times, too. South just had the look that I wanted and the northern area of storms had been struggling early on.
About halfway to our southern target our stomachs began to churn. The southern area of storms was struggling now, and the viable target storms in terms of observing a tornado were pushing further and further away. Meanwhile, the north area was now congealing into one main storm that looked to be on its way to becoming a supercell. This north area was also moving toward us, albeit slowly. But, rather than chase after a crummy cluster of storms that was running away from us, we figured we'd have a better shot of salvaging the last light of the day on what would probably be a photogenic supercell up north with us coming at it from the front. Unfortunately, flinching south cost us the one tornado that the north storm produced near Sudan, TX. It was brief, but an absolute stunner. It stung, bad.
But, we pushed on northward hoping the storm would save a little something for us. I don't think either of Colin Davis (@donkeydownburst) or Alex Hall (alexanderhall) or I expected to see what we did that evening. The supercell came into view as we rounded the city of Lubbock. We found a place near Spade, TX on a dirt road and we never moved again. For 90 minutes or so we watched as this gorgeous updraft gracefully slid across the horizon. It was one of the most surreal storm experiences of my life.
The scene was almost completely silent. No audible thunder. A warm south wind at our backs. Coyotes and ranch dogs chirping back and forth, and the occasional sound of a distant car on the highway. Hardly a cloud in the sky, all except for this beautiful, spinning updraft covered in lightning.
We made our way back to Lubbock, the supercell still illuminating the sky with lightning and found a hotel for the night.
Video from the storm: