May 16, 2021, didn’t start as the most promising of storm chases. Alethea Kontis and I targeted an area southwest of Amarillo and played with pretty storms, photographing falling hail and mammatus. We didn’t see much structure, though, and in search of a break, we stopped at a gas station in Hereford. I thought I saw what looked like a wall cloud on a storm to the south and figured we’d take a look after we finished our rest stop. When we got back in the car, I saw the storm had multiple tornado reports on it – all for one, pretty little tornado.
Needless to say, we rushed headlong down to Earth, Texas, to check out the storm. Even on the way, the view was spectacular. The sky filled with bubbly mammatus clouds over a perfect LP (low-precipitation) supercell, spinning madly in the late afternoon light. We found the perfect farm road and photographed and timelapsed the storm until after dark. It was hard to narrow down the photos. And the video is totally mesmerizing.
The storm didn’t produce another tornado, but it was uniquely beautiful, especially with the mammatus, which slid away as dusk fell.
One thing that stays true about storm chasing, even in my twenty-fifth season (yes, you read that right), is that it’s really hard to get enough sleep on the road, let alone enough time to publish all the photos and videos I shoot. We drive constantly, and there’s not a lot of time to sit at a computer for hours processing photos and video. To be brutally honest, I still have some chases for which I’ve never posted the photos in previous years. And this year, though I am doing my best to stay current, I’ve already fallen behind. So although I’m writing this on May 20, I’m dating this post May 16, 2021, which is the day the event occurred.