27 May 2009




5/27/09:  Southwest TX
Left Abilene around 10am to head W on I-20.  Again, expecting just a marginal chase day, but a slight risk did creep into SW TX.  We debated for some time about heading SW (toward a Fort Stockton-ish area) or NW (toward SE NM) out of Midland-Odessa TX, and finally opted to head SE, where a few good towers were already developing over the mountains by mid-afternoon.  Continued on I-20 toward Pecos TX, then south on state highway 17 toward Saragosa.  Took a look at a bit of “structure”, mainly some weak mammatus and the back edge of an updraft.  Storms were having a hard time moving off the mountains, and we briefly considered bagging it entirely, but opted to keep going.  We headed E on I-10 toward the west side of Fort Stockton, then dove SW on Hwy 67 toward Alpine as the storm we were watching acquired a severe thunderstorm warning.  We encountered hail right around Alpine, driving through the town several times to try to find the biggest hail in town.  We got into ping pong ball size hail, though sadly, we missed the 2” hail that was reported in town.  Still, ping pongs and mammatus were more than any of us expected! 

The storm weakened rapidly, and we opted to call it a night; it was probably a bit on the early side, since there were still storms ongoing in the southern part of the county outside of XM radar coverage, but Alpine looked like a nice town.  Stayed at a way overpriced Ramada Inn – clearly Alpine knows that it’s probably the nicest town in SW TX and prices itself accordingly.  We ate at the Alpine City Limits, which was quite a fantastic little restaurant – good food, priced well, cute inside, and good service.  On top of all that, we were treated to some great sunset cloudscapes, with underlighting on some of the bases over the mountains and even a few rainbows.  The only knock on the place was that it doesn’t have its liquor license.  We thought we’d make use of the $100/night room and bring back some bottles from the grocery store.  Had a great time playing cards and celebrating yet another see-text chase that exceeded expectations.