Tornadic storms again strafed parts of Texas in areas southeast of Abliene through southern Dallas on April 26, 2015. Atmospheric conditions a bit southeast of Abilene, Texas, were favorable in forming long track tornadic supercell storms. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued a 10% hatched conditional tornado probability near this area early in the morning of April 26th. Severe weather and a few scattered tornadoes could later develop in the Florida Panhandle again toady.
A number of discrete supercells formed in elevated dew points, east of the advancing cold front boundary in Texas. While a significant portion of central Texas remained in elevated conditions favorable for tornado formation, the area southeast of Abilene, in counties of Coleman, Brown, Comanche, Erath, Somervell, Bosque, Ellis, Johnson, and Hill were under conditions favorable to formation of large, long track tornadoes, and each county did report tornadoes, as the afternoon progressed.
At one point, while the ‘tail end Charlie’ supercell (the southern most supercell storm) that formed between Baird and Colman, Texas, developed a significant surface low in exceedingly high parameters. The supercell moved into an area with even higher conditions including: 4,500sb CAPE, a significant tornado parameter (sig. tor.) of 90, an energy helicity index level of 8, surface dew points above 65, LCLs at 1000 ft, and very weak cap, with surface wind flow initially from the south, then just before tornado genesis, these winds veered and were backed from the southeast. While the severe thunderstorm due north of this location was first to be ‘tornado warned,’ that storm was in less favorable conditions for tornado genesis, whereas the supercell southeast of Abilene was in near perfect tornado genesis atmosphere.
Like clockwork, a powerful rotating mesocyclone formed and the storm dropped the first tornado around 4:15pm, and this tornado was followed by 19 more. This supercell started in good parameters and moved northeastward into very high conditions favorable for tornadoes. The track of this cyclic tornadic storm started in Colman County and ended in Hill, covering an area approximately 142 miles, while producing a number of tornadoes from cones and stove pipes to a lightning illuminated wedge later in the evening. However, while this tornadic supercell was long lived, and long tracked, producing a strikingly powerful mesocyclone feature, and up to soft ball sized hail, the tornadoes that resulted from this storm were mostly considered weak, and were all rated by NWS as EF0s, due to the fact most structures hit by tornadoes received light damage. Given the strength of this mesocyclone storm, and the powerful atmospheres the cyclone moved through, this long lived supercell could have easily produced a large significantly damaging violent tornado, but fortunately did not, and instead cycled approximately 20 tornadoes from the supercell complex.
Most storm chasers were early positioned to the north on the cell that was first tornado warned; however, the Minute Man Disaster storm track team (live streaming on TVN News), was in a good position early on, while the supercell was forming southeast of Abilene, and Kelly DeLay, (© 2015 Kelly DeLay Photography), got amazing still images and time lapse footage of the powerful Texas mesocyclone genesis in Hico, Texas, Hamilton County. Kelly’s position on this supercell was superb.
Given the nature of this particular supercell, and the large number of tornadoes produced by this storm, Texas was lucky there was not more damage, and dodged a bullet regarding this particular storm.
See (Google +) https://plus.google.com/+KellyDeLay/posts, and https://twitter.com/kellydelay (Twitter page) for more great footage of this tornadic storm.
The preliminary count for this April, 2015 is approximately 184 reported tornadoes, so far, whereas, last year in 2014, the actual count was determined 129, and the previous 3 year running average was 140 tornadoes for April, so this year appears to be slightly above average for April tornadoes. However, this is just a preliminary count, there are a few days left so the number could increase, or some duplicate reports may be thrown out when SPC determines the actual number. What is a difference in April, so far this year, is there are only 2 reported tornado related deaths, so far, whereas there were 35 tornado related deaths reported to the SPC in 2014.