Seymour Texas Round 2

All images and text © copyright Gene Moore unless otherwise indicated.

This is a series of tornado photographs from chase in 1980. It was my first and only, to this date, morning tornado by one minute. Also, it occurred one year after a large and spectacular tornado had move through the same area of country. The earlier Seymour tornado was observed and photographed by the chase teams from the University of Oklahoma, and National Severe Storms Laboratory.

  tornado northwest

Usually, I try to show the storm structure, but in this case no panoramas of the storm were taken. We initially drove past the developing cell to sit at a little town called Red Springs and watch the huge cumulus towers explode up the back side. The rotation began to our southeast much faster than we anticipated driving us to hurry east. We had entered the storm environment about 11 AM and now it was 11:40. Would we make it for a morning tornado?

  tornado moving northeast

Southwest of Seymour, Texas the wall cloud had already dropped a bunch of small filament funnels that spun around then dissipated. We got on FM 422 east of Seymour and slowed to let the funnel aloft cross the road about a mile in front of us. Our next move was to get east of the funnel after it crossed the highway. We over estimated its speed northeast and as we passed by it the grey cloud of condensation came up to the barb wire fence along the highway. The funnel initially swelled out large enough that it seemed to come back at us. It was an illusion that gave us a momentary shock. During the next few minutes it tightened up and proceeded east.

  tornado planted on ground

No vehicles were the highway that day and we made good time to the next vantage point; a hill about two miles east. That's were we set up to take this series of pictures and shot 16mm film (yes film).

It was still before noon so we got our morning tornado, barely. A rain curtain was associated with this tornado, but it never interfered with our photography efforts. While we were taking these pictures we could hear an audible roar. We don't hear very many tornadoes from 2 miles away, but this one got loud.

  turbulent clouds surround tornado

There was not obvious RFD dry notch into this storm, at least from our vantage point. The dry air did little to destroy the wall cloud as in most tornadic storms.

  red dust colors the lower clouds

This was the last picture in the camera, and our last shot of this tornado. I had intended to shoot movies that day and spent the rest of the time fighting a medium film camera that was not working correctly. The shots we did get are taken while observing the tornado to the northwest. The tornado continued on to our north intensifying to a loud roar then a few minutes later it suddenly disappeared. We were both shocked. It just quit leaving a rotating hole in the cloud base. About 30 seconds later a narrow rope tornado quickly formed and lasted for a minute before dissipating. We followed the circulation east reloading the cameras and getting ready for the next one.

The next tornado formed about 10-15 miles further northeast and it was about twice the size of the one pictured here. It appeared as a block of turbulent condensation on the ground. We had an opportunity to go north on TX FM 25 to meet it, but we didn't; that was a mistake. We chose to go further north to highway 79 near Wichita Falls. We were thinking it would make it into the more populated area; additionally, the highway 25 route would end the chase because we would have to back track, losing thirty minutes. When the cell crossed just south of Wichita Falls there were numerous funnels, and one weak rain wrapped tornado, but nothing like we had seen earlier in the day.

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