Nature has a way of surprising us and bringing awe and wonder to our lives. It can also be dangerous and destructive. In West Texas, weather is something that determines more than what we wear to work. It determines whether our crops thrive or fail and whether our pastures will feed our livestock or have to be supplemented. Whatever comes, the community pulls together and faces it as a group.
This time last year, a super cell moving through the area dropped several inches of hail on the turkey area. It was Thursday, April 28, 2016, just as the Bob Wills weekend was really starting to ramp up.
The same cell moved east and was filmed by the Texas Storm Chasers and others as it spawned a tornado in the open fields.
About a month later, another super cell brought a very large and dangerous wedge tornado. It was unusual in several ways. First, it was a nighttime tornado which made it extremely hard to see; only in glimpses in the lightning flashes as they back lit the storm. Secondly, it was nearly stationary for quite a long time. Thankfully, it was east of Turkey in unpopulated ranching country and only damaged some of the large power lines that service the area wind turbines.
These late afternoon images by Roger Hill (above) and Andy Barber (left) of the developing super cell east of Turkey set an ominous stage.
The sun had long since gone down by the time this massive wedge tornado had formed. Many storm chasers consider it one of their most dangerous chases because of the lack of escape roads and the fact that they didn’t realize what they had because of the low visibility due to the darkness of the late hour.
Unbelievable shots taken during lightning flashes by storm chasers Andy Barber (above), Greg Johnson (left) and Roger Hill (below)show how large this EF3 tornado was.
Many of the storm chasers posted video of their chases that night. They are embedded below for your convenience. Sadly, some contain profanity, so listen at your discretion.
Max Olson Chasing
David Piano: Extreme Weather Chaser
In the Spring, the Turkey area had several close calls with fires fueled by dry grass and strong winds, but managed to dodge a bullet.Then on February 10 & 11, 2017, the Turkey Volunteer Fire Department, aided by 13 other departments and air support from area pilots, fought night and day to control a new wildfire. 2337 acres eventually burned in this dangerous fire started by a cutting torch which sparked a fire that got out of control quickly. This fire had the potential to burn out of control for even longer, but the tenacity and skill of those working together on this incident paid off. Most of these pictures are taken by Tori Minick and featured in an article which you can read here:
This ariel shot by Craig Turner shows the path of the Tripp fire.
Finally on Sunday, the fire was officially declared cold and the remainder of the firefighters still on guard went home.