24 May 2001



FROM: Oklahoma City, OK
TO: Lampasas, TX
DISTANCE: 723.1 miles
TIME: 10:00-23:00 CST (1600-0500Z)

This being the first day of our tour, much of the morning was spent getting vehicles rented, food supplies stocked, etc.  Coordinating 7 highly independent-thinking individuals and 2 vehicles is no small task, especially when most of us were total strangers to one another: Jerri and I knew each other really well form our year wintering over at the South Pole (and we'd kept in e-mail contact with Dee Pumphrey, a prison guard from Fort Wayne, for several  weeks before the trip).  Brian Press (a five-time returnee on this tour) and wife Holly were recent newlyweds who knew Stephen well before the rest of us.  Stewart Johnson, from Great Britain, had never been to the U.S. before; we admired his courage at doing a new (and very large) country on his own, and joked that we needed to get him a Stetson [hat] to help him blend in better with us Yanks.

Stephen, ever the diplomat, suggested that we swing by his place in Richardson, TX to pick up an antenna that he forgot for this trip.  Since this stop was on the way to more promising storm weather, we all agreed readily that this would be a good idea.

After a roundabout path to the apartment in Richardson (to avoid construction Stephen knew about), we spent some time checking the Weather Channel, chose a target area to the west, and slogged our way through late afternoon Dallas traffic. It took what seemed like hours to get west of Fort Worth, but were running early for the storms we anticipated in south or central Texas.

About an hour before sunset (which was about 20:30 CST), Brian spotted our first tall storms of the evening.  An impressive stack of towering cumulus was piled up to our south, somewhere between Brownwood and the Mexican border.  As we rolled into Brownwood, we could see from the rain-drenched streets that we were closing in on our target storm.

Lampasas, TX
Room: 1 room, 1 night
RESTAURANTS None - we ate wherever we fueled up. 
Gotta love beef jerky, right?

TODAY had temperatures in the low-to-mid 80s.  As we moved further west from Dallas, the winds gradually shifted to the southeast.  Gulf moisture was blasting right at us, and the humidity quickly rose to the "air ya can wear" levels needed for a strong storm.

About 2 miles southeast of Lampasas, TX we ran into an HP storm with intense lightning spanning a 180-degree arc of sky centered on the southeast compass point.  About ten minutes into the storm we heard the crack of small (probably dime-sized) hail on the roof and windshield of the car.  The noise of hailstones grew loud enough that we had to yell at the top of our lungs to be heard on the radio.  Shortly thereafter, the hail grew to about quarter-sized in a matter of seconds and we called a strategic retreat.

NOBODY wanted to lose a windshield the first night out, and we had no idea how large the hail would get.

Our first day, when we expected to be many miles from a good storm, Stephen and Brian put us on a good hailer.

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