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.
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.
||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
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.