This semester I was the Teaching Assistant for Dr. Josh Wurman's radar class. As such, I was responsible for training all students in the field operations of the Doppler on Wheels mobile doppler weather radar as well as driving the truck and overseeing the students in data collection. On this day, a number of Dutch students wished to take the truck down to Texas, south of Wichita Falls.

I don't recall the meteorological conditions on that day (I'm writing this about one year later). We observed several severe thunderstorms near Haskell, TX. One storm in particular exhibited a very nice inflow beaver tail and a slight hook on its southern edge. While this was taking place, I was attempting to fix the side door of the radar truck with a small, inadequate screwdriver. The lock had broken while the door was being closed and we had no way to get it open. I eventually gave up and simply removed the entire locking mechanism and used "bungee" cords to keep the door shut. As you can imagine, I was a bit preoccupied and, once the storm began to cycle and loose some of its distinct characteristics, I decided to head south. We were driving east, about 30 miles south of Throckmorton, TX, when a tornado formed near the town. There we were, in a mobile radar truck, had been scanning that very storm not 30 minutes earlier and totally missed it. Hey, that's life...I blame the broken door lock!

Soon after the Throckmorton tornado, the isolated cells quickly formed into a well-defined squall line. The Dutch students ditched the DOW, leaving just myself in the truck, somewhere between Haskell and Forth Worth. As I neared FWS, I met up with students Danny Cheresnik and Mike Buban, who wished to collect radar data of the squall line. We just barely had enough time to find a deployment site (near a small lake on the north side of town) to collect data as the squall line hit.

On the drive back to Norman, the truck experienced electrical failure. The battery was continuously dying, first causing the instrument cluster, then the radio, and finally the headlights to fail. We periodically used the trucks 120 VAC generator to power a 12 VDC battery charger. It took almost 5 hours to drive what is typically a 3-hour trip home!

  • The Dutch students have a great web site of their love for Meteorology. Please check it out.
  • Chuck Doswell has a complete account of this day on his chase web site.
  • Click here for storm reports from this day.


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