This photo was taken about 10 km south of Sweetwater looking southwest as VORTEX's aircraft was circling the storm. Note the mammatus on the anvil.
The tornado was on the southwest side of the main lowered cloud structure and on the southwest side of Sweetwater along Interstate 40. This view is towards the north-northwest with the tornado about 10km away. At this time, exploding powerlines were noted in Sweetwater and a sheriff's deputy reported that a second tornado had descended in town. We did not see the second tornado.
Photo by John Monteverdi and Thom Trimble
This a closer view of this brief tornado. (The tornado's life was about 5 minutes and the road system/clear view considerations precluded our getting closer). Significant inflow was evident and the mesocyclone must have been powerful, given the cloud striations and apparent cloud motion near the wall cloud at the time of the tornado. Several other reports of tornadoes were made from locations near us as we chased the storm. However, we are certain that no other tornadoes did occur and that many of the public reports were of inflow bands and cloud tags.