COLUMBUS, Mississippi (WCBI) – Wednesday, May 24 proved to be a pretty eventful day across central eastern New Mexico to western Texas. All extreme weather hazards occur.
We started the day in Lubbock, Texas and ventured west to eastern New Mexico. Our target city is Tucumcari in Quay District. We arrived in the early afternoon and found a small park to wait out for any developing storms.
The storm started developing shortly after 5 p.m. MDT just north of Tucumcari. They quickly intensified and became severe, initially creating threatening hail and winds near the city.
The structure was “good” during the storm thanks to improved mid/superior shear. In the image above, there was a well-defined headwind with limited rainfall, indicating potential severity and intensity.
The structure of the storm remains impressive as it transforms into a “high precipitation” superclass. These are common in Mississippi but not common in these parts of the country. Analysis of the nearby atmosphere shows that humidity is now near the 100th percentile of normal, indicating an unusually high humidity.
In the image above, a tornado was reported by storm chasers in the area; however, from our vantage point, we were unable to see it due to the rain/hail shield likely blocking the tornado at this distance. However, we did see a quick and clear rotation during the storm, eventually generating several other tornado reports.
In the last photo taken by one of our students, there is a clear tornado on the left side of the photo. This was actually captured as we were heading east of the storm on US 60 towards our hotel in Canyon, TX. We ended up “chasing” the storm during the day because it was not safe to chase tornadoes at night.
As of Thursday, May 25, NWS Albuquerque confirmed three tornadoes have occurred in Curry County, including the one we observed after sunset. All three are rated EF-U or EF-unknown. These ratings are assigned when little or no damage occurs; Fortunately, these tornadoes mostly occur in rural, open fields.