AUSTIN (KXAN) – A year ago, five different tornadoes moved through central Texas causing damage and injuries, but fortunately no deaths.
Jeff Mangum was a storm chaser with Tornado Trackers. He, along with his partner Gabe Cox, were our eyes on the ground as they chased the longest trailing tornado that day as it moved through Round Rock toward Granger and then into Bell County before dissipating.
Tornado EF-2 was grounded 29 miles from 5:54 pm to 6:34 pm
KXAN Meteorologist Nick Bannin spoke with Jeff about that day in a two-part interview. Part 1 aired Monday on KXAN Weather & Traffic on The CW Austin.
KXAN Meteorologist Nick Bannin: Joining us is Jeff Mangum, a storm chaser who was instrumental with our coverage of the tornado outbreak this past March. Jeff, welcome back, tell us about March 21, 2022. What went well for you and your partner Gabe Cox and what didn’t?
Jeff Mangum, Storm Chaser: It was a very unique day, we expected there would be a bad weather outbreak of some sort. So all the models were painting a picture saying the Austin metro area was going to be hit by supercells. We’ve had four of these very, very strong storms wash over the central Texas area. What ended up happening was that three of the four storms became tornado warned, the only storm that had yet to become tornado warned was the one that would end up through Round Rock, and then into Granger. But the more we looked at that storm, we just saw that the environment and all the parameters were set perfectly. And we looked west towards Round Rock, and you could see this huge wall cloud, and it looked like there was a tornado going on. We heard about it and as it got closer, we began to see that it certainly had ground circulation.
It became its largest and strongest point, I think, just around where we were and it impacted some homes and some businesses just around where we were. The most memorable part was that there’s a particular Farm to Market road that we were going on from north to south and we’re filming this tornado coming right on us. You can feel it, you can smell the grass being tossed about by the impact of the tornadoes. So all senses were maxed out at this point and it got to a point where it started moving very rapidly towards our location. We had to head south about a tenth of a mile, maybe a quarter of a mile, we turned around and we saw this big wedge tornado go right in front of us and you could feel every part of that tornado. It was rugged, it was loud, it was loud, and it was that it was sweeping these rear flank downslope winds, so the rear winds from that storm were hitting us. We were probably getting 70 to 80 mph winds at our location.
WATCH KXAN WEATHER & TRAFFIC ON CW AUSTIN TUESDAY TO SEE PART TWO OF OUR INTERVIEW WITH JEFF