Texas Twister: Nature’s Mesmerizing Vortex Caught on Camera

The storm turned a delicate pink.

On May 16, 2021, storm chasers Alethea Kontis and I embarked on a storm-chasing adventure in an area southwest of Amarillo, Texas. Despite the initial unpromising conditions, we remained hopeful and engaged with the beautiful storms, capturing photographs of falling hail and mesmerizing mammatus clouds. However, we longed for more defined structure and decided to take a break at a gas station in Hereford.

During our rest stop, I noticed what appeared to be a wall cloud forming on a storm to the south. Intrigued, we resolved to investigate further once we finished our break. When we returned to the car, to my astonishment, I discovered that the storm had garnered multiple tornado reports. There was something captivating about this seemingly small yet elegant tornado.

Eager to witness this magical spinning storm firsthand, we hastily made our way to Earth, Texas. The journey itself offered a breathtaking spectacle, with the sky adorned by bubbly mammatus clouds enveloping a perfect low-precipitation supercell. It spun vigorously in the warm glow of the late afternoon sunlight. We located an ideal farm road and dedicated ourselves to photographing and capturing time-lapses of the storm until well after darkness had descended. The sheer beauty of the scene made it a challenge to select only a few photographs, and the recorded video was nothing short of mesmerizing.

Although the storm did not produce another tornado, its uniqueness lay in its ethereal beauty, especially enhanced by the fleeting presence of the mammatus clouds that gradually dissipated as dusk settled in.

One constant truth about storm chasing, even in my twenty-fifth season (yes, you read that right), is the difficulty of obtaining sufficient sleep while on the road, let alone finding ample time to publish the multitude of photos and videos captured. Our journeys are marked by continuous driving, leaving little opportunity to sit at a computer for hours, meticulously processing the visual treasures we collect. To be completely honest, there are still chases from previous years for which I haven’t shared the photos. Despite my best efforts to stay current this year, I have already fallen behind. Hence, although I am writing this on May 20, I am dating this post as May 16, 2021, the day when this extraordinary event unfolded.

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