After yesterday’s strange and incredible lightning and hail storms today was shaping up to be another severe day. The NWS ended up putting a Tornado Watch box over the NE corner of the state at 11:00 am; it was muggy due to the moisture from yesterday and more coming that was trapped in the Front Range area due to fronts, and an upper air disturbance was passing over giving some extra lift. Shear and helicity all looked good for supercells and potential tornadoes.
I left about 2:00 and headed east on Hwy86 as my target was Kiowa, or more like Agate/Byers area. I wanted to sit on the north side of the divide and chase whatever fired from there. As soon as I was past Kiowa a promising cell started to form right around Byers. On my way there two other cells started to form to the SW–although these didn’t show up on radar they were looking really nice; but I went for the maturing cell and stopped on Hwy 36 about 10 miles east of Byers.
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Supercell of the day as I was approaching from Kiowa.
As I was watching the storm east of Byers, this hit me.
The cell was back building and went tornado warned near Byers. I was expecting the cell to take off and I was in good position for that; but it ended up moving south. I then jetted toward Deer Trail and eventually to Agate and south towards Hwy 86. I figured I could get to Simla or even Ramah if the storm continued due South where the road network gets better.
Between Deer Trail and Agate the large flat rain free base produced rotation and a funnel cloud. It also produced some amazing texture in the anvil/downdraft of the storm!
Great texture in the coulds with another cell to the south!
Funnel cloud formed SW of Agate
On my way south past Agate, the front end of the storm looked very suspicious and as I was driving it looked like a tornado could be occuring. There was a tornado reported but I didn’t know this until afterwards; but I did take this shot of the scud.
Inflow/Outflow SW of Agate; I believe I saw a tornado around this time.
I traveled south to Hwy 86 (near where I started) and then west to the road to Simla. I wanted to get to the road to Ramah, but there was no way without entering the core. I traveled south until Simla and got some amazing, and I mean amazing, structure shots. At this time there was a tornado down but I did not see anything from my vantage point.
I then headed SW of Simla and chased until near dark. I saw a funnel which ended up being a the Calhan Tornado. I was able to chase about a mile east of the core for a while until I decided I needed to book it south to beat the core going west on 94 into Colorado Springs. I ended up a little slow (due to the fast developing cell on the west side of this beast) and got into some golf ball sized hail. The cell that formed over NE Colorado Springs also put down some half dollar sized hail.
Finally we had a severe setup in Colorado; this spring has been mediocre at best thus far on any weather, especially severe. There was a Tornado Watch box issued for the eastern portion of Colorado and it would end up being a big hail day; especially on the Palmer Divide and Denver! I chased with Adam Boggs and we stayed pretty much out of everything severe; except the lightning. This was probably in the top 2 for sure lightning days I’ve ever experienced! It was simply spectacular!
Today was a weird day; Adam and I ran into unique events all day; which made the chase a lot of fun! The first unlikely event was when we pulled off and watched the storms track north over the Grover/Briggsdale area. Off in the distance down the road I noticed a small black dot; which appeared to be coming at us fairly quickly. I got out my 300mm lens and scoped it out, it was a dog, and he was hauling!
Stray Dog running down the road to get to us.
I’m nearly sure the dog was a stray; he was definitely a bit sketchy but did hang around us the whole time we were there. There were a TON of chasers out and he barked at every car he saw. He wasn’t very happy when we left which kinda broke my heart; but there was no way I was bringing him home nor having him in the car…something wasn’t quite right with him.
While the dog was hanging out with us; we got this timelapse of the storms to our west. There was a lowering and some minor rotation which is apparent in the timelapse; the supercell was definitely rotating which is what I was trying to capture. One of these storms put down a brief tornado; although we didn’t see anything.
We were in the middle of nowhere when we saw what appeared to be a Chase Tour group of vans. As we neared they beckoned us to stop and they had an issue…they had locked their keys in their car. They were looking for a coat hanger which I didn’t have; but I went to a nearby fence post and got them some barbed wire. Right as I was back with the wire they got the door unlocked with a car antenna and duct tape. What was hilarious was “Plan B”…yet something else you don’t see every chase!
Working on getting the keys out of the locked vehicle...
A bit further we stopped and watched a flock of pelicans lazily soar through the winds and also saw a cute group of deer. Again not the average chase experience being in the middle of nowhere !
Caught some deer right after leaving the Plan B scene!
Flock of Pelicans where ponds are rare!
We continued on to Hwy 14 and entered the Pawnee Buttes near New Raymer and watched the storms track by and the great sunset! We also got some more great sunset shots south of here as we were trying to make our way back to get some lightning from the southern storms. We saw crepuscular and anti-crepuscular rays which was fairly rare (they ran horizon to horizon) and also caught a rainbow with a gas well. The unique stuff kept coming.
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As we headed south around Orchard the lightning intensified and was hitting everywhere around us! Another something you don’t see every chase is a group of local farmers checking out the storm with multiple lightning strikes hitting all around them and watching them scramble to their vehicles in a frenzy! Been there, done that!
Not much further down the road, around Wiggins, we ran into a field that was on fire; likely started by lightning. We didn’t call in any severe weather today; but we did report this fire to 911. I ran across the street to the house there to warn them of the fire that was spreading very rapidly due to the high winds. First time I’ve seen a field fire that close due to lightning.
The lightning was great; so we went down the road a little and took these lightning shots! Wow!
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I dropped Adam off in Hudson where he left his car and I drove home; at this time the lightning was spectacular in Denver/Aurora area. I decided to drive through Aurora in case there was an opportunity to photograph in the Children’s Hospital garage (my work); but even though I would have gotten more amazing shots; I was getting tired an opted to enjoy nature’s light show on my drive home without that stop; these bolts were CLOSE on the drive! This was again an amazing storm; in the tech center there was 2-3″ of hail standing on the ground. By the time I was in Castle Rock the outlet mall looked like it got hit with a huge snow storm. When I got home the storm passing through SW Denver metro was Tornado warned, at 12:30 at night! That storm dissipated by the time it was in SE Aurora! Really? Definitely a bunch of odd, unique stuff; and likely the best lightning day I’ve ever had chasing!
Amazing bolt of lightning off of I-76 near Wiggins.
Best part, the next day even looked better for severe storms!
Time to shake the rust off the gear and mind; it’s storm season again! Coordinated with Adam Boggs and chased with him today. Always great to have his custom software aboard and his excellent navigation skills. We knew today was going to be a slight risk and that the upper level trough was not necessarily going to be timed correctly with daytime heating max; and there appeared to be somewhat of a cap in place too; but still felt there could be something worth chasing.
We met in Aurora and headed east on I-70 and then US 36; our target was around Anton area…at least to wait and see how the day progressed. The cells in our area had a difficult time with the cap and were eroding…we decided to hit the cell about 45 minute north forming around Sterling…southern Colorado looked nice but it was more than we wanted to drive given we wanted to be back in Boulder by 2am. Driving north on 63 was uneventful until we were about 10 miles south of I-76, and then nice looking mothership supercell appeared! We stopped and took some photos; Adam got some great timelapse with his new nifty camera showing this mothership spin like a top!
We decided after getting about 15 minutes of timelapse to follow the storm north as it was getting close to dusk and the lightning was awesome. Of course, as our luck would have it; as soon as we found a nice perch and got the equipment set up (and the sunlight dim enough for several second exposures) the storm died and lost its lightning! But there were other cells just west that were producing some nice lighting and we got a couple of shots. I love the colors around dusk so we shot some photos and the headed west to get closer to the cells producing better lightning.
We ended up in the massive wind farm just west of Peetz on the Colorado/Nebraska border and had a bolt hit the tower next to us (that was scary); we ended up driving to get out of the rain and set up in between three cells and got some great lightning shots. Most of mine were out of focus; still getting use to the new lens I bought (focus on infinity does not work when shooting lightning and each lens has its sweet spot approaching infinity for crisp focus). But viewing the lightning in the middle of the massive wind turbines that went on past the horizon was excellent fun!
The drive home had some wicked lightning along I-76. Down south near Lamar were a couple of tornadoes after dark; so it was a severe day in Colorado. We got some small hail near Brush; but that was the extent of the hail we saw.
Overall, great fun chasing with Adam, and a great start to the 2012 season with a rotating mothership supercell and some fun lightning!
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We were in a Severe Thunderstorm watch this afternoon but as I was chasing all the storms were dead before they got 30 miles east of the foothills, but there was heavy rain, slow moving storms and I knew after dark it would be a great lightning show. I triangulated a great place between a couple of storms and then drove to find a good overlook to the northern storm which was pumping out some great lightning. I had to finally leave once the bolts were a little too close for comfort, but I had a great 30-45 minute session without rain!
July 13 2011 Parker Lightning Show
Been some nice monsoons coming through, great lightning in 2011!
Today was a fun chase. Started off on a cell from Parker to Agate, then a brief stay with a cell over Limon, but decided on tail-end Charlie and hit up the storm near Rush. It became TVS warned as I was intercepting and it looked great! Followed this cell all the way to Cheyenne Wells where it started to tap into the moister air and had to fly south to beat the building core. Great lightning that evening around Hugo too!
Today was a good risk of severe storms over NW Kansas and South Central Nebraska. Everything looked great so I targeted Wray knowing I’d likely be getting into Kansas or Nebraska during the evening. Got out there about 3:00 and nothing was firing; no clouds so I immediately knew there was a cap in place. It was very hazy so I knew there was good instability, but it looked like I needed to go another 60-100 miles east to get into the convection.
Ended up on a couple of storms that had nice wall cloud lowerings but with the haze it was difficult to see even though I was very close. Ended up on some very slick mud roads and had to redirect the chase into southern Nebraska. Was a long drive home!
Another big day for weather. The estimated Instability (CAPE values of around 2000) were not as large as the day before, but there WERE going to be big storms. The storm that formed around 3:00pm over Golden that put down 3″ of hail on the ground (and 1″ hailballs) I believe was the straw that broke the camel’s back and prompted a tornado watch for all of eastern Colorado. I was getting off work and looking west the storm was just going to go north of us. So I decided to check it out, since I was there and all….
Radar of the Supercell as it was Tornado Warned
As I got out of town I heard the storm was Tornado warned, but Radar (not visual), so I figured I’d stay on this. I got north of Bennett and parked for a while.
Supercell East of Denver
I drove north a bit and the storm was looking pretty mean so I jumped out and started to take some picture and film. I heard that there were funnels reported near Barr Lake (just north of my location) as well; so everything was looking ripe.
Suspicious cloud - could not detect rotation
Could not detect rotation
For all of these shots, some looked like tornado(s) to me, but I couldn’t detect if they were rotating. There were no confirmed tornadoes in the SPC reports; so either I’m the only one that saw these (doubt that) or they were not tornadoes…I can’t report them as tornadoes unless I’m sure, which in all cases I wasn’t…
Very suspicious looking clouds....
Very suspicious looking clouds....
I suspect the ominous looking formations I was seeing were something like this, and with a hill in the way they appeared to be on ground but perhaps weren’t. Regardless, really great structure and clouds!
What a Scuddy Mess!
Nice outflow cloud getting sucked back into the storm
While south of Prospect Valley, I was watching the storm with a volunteer firefighter and we saw this. Not sure what to make of it; it looked very ominous but I could not detect rotation. Cool structure for sure!
Not sure what to make of this. It was in the outflow of the storm, but look at the structure it had as it was sucked into the storm.
Nice little hook.
This was embedded in the rain, but it was weird…and suspect!
Haven't figured out what this could have been, any ideas?
Then I saw this…which is very ominous! Not sure if it was rotating though, so can’t call it a tornado…but it sure did look that way!
Only lacked visible rotation; but it was pretty far away.
This was neat. There was an outflow that was hitting the ground and then getting sucked back up into the storm. This was visible for over 15 minutes, and was very visibly moving.
Outflow cloud getting sucked into the storm
The structure of this storm was worth the price of admission for sure!
Structure was awesome!
Just south of the storm was some surreal clouds.
What a day. Ended up not feeling too well (headache, sure it was allergies) and so I decided to head home. I ended up merging with a storm in Strasburg that put down some 2″ hail. Yikes! The overall structure of this storm was great. An awesome chase!
Didn’t know if I was going to chase this day as I had a meeting until 3pm likely I’d be behind all day. After walking back from another building on campus through the sprinkling rain, I saw a couple of nice towers starting to form; one just east of us and one to the north. Got back to my desk and took a look at some of the maps and imagery. Did a little work and then decided to take a break and check out the storm from the 9th floor; I’ve been wanting to do that for a while.
While up there I saw some impressive lowerings on the east side of the updraft base; but they were pretty far away–I’d estimate west of DIA. Then I saw a small scud-like cloud form, on the ground, out of the center of the rain shaft dominating the whole west side of the storm.
No condensation tube that I could see, but definitely rotation/debris on the ground.
It was pretty far away; I’d guess 10 or miles? But the scud cloud started to rapidly rise from the ground. I then noticed a bunch of disturbances on the ground; a few were spinning. It reminded me of the water around a waterspout and I even asked the docs that stopped to look as well if there was a lake out there. I never saw a funnel or condensation tube but I’m going to chalk this one a very small rain-wrapped (for a while at least) tornado. It reminded me of the tornado I saw last year near Hoxie Kansas as both just appeared out of the rain and then dissapeared; although the Hoxie one definitely had more traditional structure. I put up some video (same zoom; from my cell phone) on facebook.
Some pictures of the chase:
Nice lowering as I'm catching the storm.
Nicer lowering as I'm catching the storm.
Yet even nicer lowering_S_ I have pretty much caught the storm.
Here is as much as my camera could capture.
This is looking very suspect...no apparent rotation but definitly RFD winds.
It turns out Adam Boggs was directly next to this lowering and has some amazing footage of it. In his footage it didn’t appear to be rotating much either; we’ll call it a Scudnado. It was impressive structure though! Ended up hooking up with Adam on some random county road and we chased the rest of the day convoy style. This was a great chase and the storm had magnificent structure at times!
Wow, mothership take me home!
Just south of Fort Morgan, great structure.
Out north of Fort Morgan somewhere, gaining some great Structure.
Death of the storm
Then, some lightning from the cell further west by Keensburg.
Yep, the title says it all. I chatted with Adam Boggs the night before as it was looking like a very good day. We decided we’d head out and carpool and test out each of our systems. Adam brought his custom sofware and I used the Baron.
Headed to the Tornado Watch box and decided to continue to Kimball. Saw a radiosonde launched over I-80 just south of Kimball. Got some gas and headed just north of the city where we decided to hang out and watch the storms form. Looking up north we could see the convective beasts but we decided with storm direction we could easily end up in South Dakota and that wasn’t an option for our Friday commute home!
We photographed some “wave” clouds which was cool; but there was no convective “popcorn” anywhere to be seen other than the 2 storms way up north and west. We started to see a storm pop in Fort Morgan Colorado and started to get our hopes up. The air was ripe and the shear was great; we just needed initation as we were in what most people would call windy, great sunny weather! Moved to the south side of town for a better view of all directions. By the airport we watched the Colorado storm’s base get sheared off by the cap. At least it was a quick death. That was the extent of our structure; we ended up seeing no real new cumulous clouds form the rest of the day.
Hightlights was the forming cell that got clobbered. The many railcars on the I-80 train that had great graffiti–the art gallery came to us in Kimball, Nebraska one day! Great to get out with Adam and chase! Just wished for a cloud; not even a storm; just a cloud was our motto for most of the chase!