Sunday, May 5, 2019

Sun/5-5-19: Dangerous Tornado South of Lubbock, Caught on Radar and in Pictures

On Sunday afternoon, May 5, 2019 the National Weather Service (NWS) tracked what would become a large and destructive tornado.


The storm formed in southern Lubbock County and quickly developed characteristics that would indicate it was rotating forming a mesocyclone.

It then crossed the county line into Lynn County where the rotation on radar began to really crank up.  Here is a look at the velocity radar for the area of rotation.

You can see the rotation north of Tahoka, TX.  The rotation is where the light pink and orange meet the green, it's also where you see the circle icon in the center of the frame.

This was at 5:54p



Taken at 5:57p.

Taken at 6:00p the tornado is now east of Tahoka, TX and quickly becomes wrapped in blowing dust so thick that storm spotters have a hard time seeing the condensation funnel of the tornado.


Taken at 6:02p.  This is a regular reflectivity radar of the tornado.  You can see the textbook 'hook' of the tornado wrapping around indicating it could be large and dangerous.


6:16p.  The hook of the tornado begins to enlarge on the southeast corner indicating it may have picked up some debris to increase the signature size on the radar.


6:19p.  As we return to velocity radar it was quickly becoming evident from the spotters on the ground that they were dealing with two tornadoes about one mile from each other.  The two tornadoes are on either side of where the orange meets the green color.


6:40p.  It's obvious to storm spotters and those running the radar out of Lubbock that two tornadoes are on the ground but one is weakening rapidly as the storm cycles itself.  Areas where the green and red are meeting indicate circulation, especially on the north side.


6:41p.  Additional Tornado Warnings issued as the storm goes nearly stationary with two tornadoes, one stronger than the other.



During the entire event Severe Studios Tornado Chaser Derrick Ginter took a live video.  He was extremely close to the tornado (a bit closer than a chaser should be).  But, here are some stills from that video feed.

Here you can see the tornado enclosed in dust, almost obscuring it.


In this picture you can begin to see the funnel a bit better or at least the column of dust that has enveloped the entire tornado funnel all the way to the base of the tornadic thunderstorm.


Here is a better view.


As Derrick was looking to the east and following the main, large tornado, a second one formed back to the northwest.  First it sucked up dust and then a condensation funnel formed and it was twin tornadoes slowly, very slowly travelling southeast.


As we go back to the original tornado you can begin to see the tornado in center show.


In this final photo you can easily see the funnel on the ground about half the size of the dust cloud that had enveloped it.


The tornado went on to cycle and reform about three times being a problem through about 8p in the counties to the south, Dawson and Borden until it finally dissipated.

Meteorologist Bryan Rupp.