Chasecation 2016, Day 11: Battling the cap and a haboob to end the day

A haboob south of Lubbock, Texas. (Quincy Vagell)

A haboob south of Lubbock, Texas. (Quincy Vagell)

This chase trip will end up ranked near the top of those I’ve taken. The only thing that may keep it from being a clear number 1 is the fact that outside the several truly amazing days we’ve had, others have tended to be a struggle.

But in the end, chasing isn’t just about tornadoes, and any day that finishes with cool imagery is a win as far as I’m concerned.

With that as the goal, Sunday did not fully disappoint.

In the lead-up, it seemed there would be a relatively decent shot of seeing a tornado on Sunday. As we closed in, the day looked more impressive. But by the night prior, some issues began to show themselves as well.

One big one was the increasing likelihood of a crashing outflow boundary sent southward by storms in the northern Texas Panhandle. This activity would help shrink the threat area, and send us further south than most chasers dream of chasing — a day in the Permian Basin is usually had when there are not other options. It’s not that it’s a terrible place to chase, it’s just not the most favorable for tornado activity overall.

The crashing outflow was actually a symptom of another problem. And that was the early passage of a shortwave. This helped kick off storms, but it also meant that “subsidence,” or sinking air, would be left in its wake. Not a storm friendly thing. Something we saw happen in Nebraska exactly a week prior.

So in the end, a line of supercells moving out of New Mexico and western Texas basically died as they headed further into the subsidence and capping inversion of air to the east. No bueno as a storm chaser.

But, these types of days are often judged by what one can make of them. We traveled through a portion of New Mexico and emerged back into Texas to find ourselves face to face with some rainbows and a haboob.

Cool scenes no matter how you cut it.

Today’s another day. It might actually be the last of the chase trip with chasing, depending on whether we get lucky with location tomorrow. At the least we’ll try to make it a 10th straight day that we’ve played with storms.

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Defense and foreign policy researcher at a D.C. think tank. Information lead for the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang.