August 11 2015 Aurora Funnel Cloud

For some reason early this morning I felt I had to take my camera to work. I wasn’t sure why I felt that way, but I didn’t deny my intuition and I put it in the car with me. I figured I’d see a wild animal or something on the way in.

So, I’m working and end up having meetings solid all afternoon. Ending time has come and gone and I’m officially working late again. Then all of a sudden every phone in cube-land went off at the same time. Tornado warning. Managers yelling at folks to get in the stairwell and inner conference rooms. Of course, I’m looking out the window and checking my resources on the phone trying to determine where the threat is. No velocity couplet on radar, probably a landspout as this area of Colorado is notorious for non-supercell tornadoes. Some random manager (not sure whom) grabs me and tells me I’m in danger and I have to get into the shelter. So I dart away, down the stairs past a ton of folks, and onto the top of the parking garage, on my way grabbing the camera from the car.

Tornado warning states that it was a “Public spotted tornado” which typically means pretty much anything; I understand the concern because clouds can look really angry! (many “public” reports are incorrect). But social media shows some nice funnel cloud pictures. Cool! The subsequent warning states that Weather Spotters see a funnel cloud.

The rain stops falling (mostly) and the lightning moves away, so I venture out on the top floor of the parking garage and then I see the funnel, just northeast of work. My co-worker texts me asking me where the heck I was at, I told him on the top of the parking garage and to come join me. He ended up being just in time to see his first funnel cloud of his life! I vividly still remember that day for me, I was 6, changed my life.

Aurora Funnel Cloud Aurora Funnel Cloud Aurora Funnel Cloud Aurora Funnel Cloud Aurora Funnel Cloud Aurora Funnel Cloud

Rocky Mountain Arsenal Tornado – July 28, 2014

Didn’t expect this today, witnessed the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Tornado from my office window!  Was sitting at work doing my thing when I noted a lot of cloud to ground lightning, and decided to take a break and look out the window.  I saw a large round section of cloud that looked interesting.  As I watched a small nipple formed (3:50pm) and start to slowly grow.  It was hard to tell if it was a funnel because it was rotating ever so slowly, but I could tell it was rotating.  The funnel continued to grow in size and I checked spotter network to see if it had been reported, and it had; they said a landspout at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

At this time there was a NWS tornado warning (radar) but it was near Fort Lupton which is a good distance to the north.  Shortly thereafter the cell was warned as it moved southwest (odd!) into western Aurora!  I watched the funnel for probably 10 minutes and then I could see the rain in the landspout funnel!  It lasted several more minutes and then became obscured by rain (4:05pm); although I could see the funnel for a little while longer.  About 20 minutes later I still saw what looked like a funnel but no landspout; although there was quite a bit of rain at the time too.

Awesome CG lightning in the area, including one that went through the funnel!  Great chase day, I probably walked 6 feet from my desk and saw the first tornado of the year! Chalk this one up on the list of tornados I’ve seen so far

July 28, 2014 Rocky Mountain Arsenal - funnel cloud

July 28, 2014 Rocky Mountain Arsenal – funnel cloud

Arsenal funnel gets larger

Arsenal funnel gets larger

Finally the rain illuminates the tornado / landspout.

Finally the rain illuminates the tornado / landspout.

July 28, 2014 Rocky Mountain Arsenal - landspout tornado

Great short chase, less than 20 feet and no driving required! 🙂

Larkspur Tornado Warning – 2nd in 3 days

Today I decided to hit the Pikes Peak Gem and Mineral Show at the Western Mining Museum.  I packed my storm chase gear as it was supposed to be a good southern Colorado chase day and since I was in the Black Forest area I could be in good position to commence a chase.

After enjoying the show I was leaving when I got a call from my mom, who always is great at keeping me updated on news and events since I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio.  She had called to tell me that Larkspur was Tornado Warned!  I flipped on the Baron Mobile Threat Net and the NOAA Weather Radio to get caught up on the weather as I raced towards Larkspur.  As I crested Monument Hill I could see that there was something sinister brewing just north and I was excited to chase as I know all the back roads in the area!

About 1pm I took these pictures from the car as I was driving in the Greenland area. This storm stretched from what appeared to be Castle Rock nearly down to Monument.

NOTE:  As always, click the image for a HD full size version…

Looking west from Greenland about 1pm

Looking NW from Greenland about 1pm

Looking North towards Larkspur at about 1pm

Looking west from Greenland at about 1pm

Traffic was starting to get gnarled up because of the heavy rain just north of the Larkspur exit; and people were freaking out driving worse than storm chasers do, that’s a first!  LOL! The underpass of the Larkspur exit was completely blocked by people wanting to get out of the hail (it hardly started raining yet), luckily I was headed east to get ahead of the storm as it was coming directly my way–leaving the mass chaos in the dust.

Looking north about 4 miles east of Larkspur

Looking north about 4 miles NE of Larkspur

Looking SW in the general direction of where the tornado was reported 5 Miles NE of Palmer Lake.  This was about 10 minutes after the report but a funnel appears to be visible.

Looking SW in the general direction of where the tornado was reported 5 Miles NE of Palmer Lake. This was about 10 minutes after the report but a funnel appears to be visible.

Near Hwy 83, while flirting with the rain and hail of the northern storm, I got overtaken by the SE drifting storm several times and I spent the next 30 minutes or so getting out in front of the line of storms drifting east; many with tornado warnings on them.  The storm to the NE of me near Elizabeth had some nice structure (and was certainly ruining what was left of the county rodeo).  The Lake George tornadic storm was also cresting the Rampart Range too and looked nice; so I decided to split the two and be available to jump on either storm…I was nearly 1/2 way between Hwy 24 and Hwy 86.

6/8/2014.  Cool structure as the northern storm passed Elizabeth.

6/8/2014. Cool inflow structure as the northern storm passed Elizabeth.

6/8/2014.  Cool structure as the northern storm passed Elizabeth.

6/8/2014. Northern storm as it passed Elizabeth.

6/8/2014.  Cool structure as the northern storm was near Kiowa.

6/8/2014. Cool structure as the northern storm was near Kiowa.

6/8/2014.  Cool structure as the northern storm was near Kiowa.

6/8/2014. The southern storm was also looking good and went tornado warned about this time.

After I headed east of Elbert, I had to make a decision, catch up to the storm to my NE (about 20 miles as a bird flies) or get south and play the southern line of storms.  Since I was planning it to be a southern Colorado day anyway, and because I was a good 30 minutes ahead of those storms, I chose the southern storms and I headed south towards Simla.  The roads south of here are good; but not great and like any dirt road it sucks in the hail and heavy rain; so I decided I was going to play this line of storms and then punch the core and head home as there was a big line forming and the severe potential appeared to be dwindling.

6/8/2014.  This cell SW of Simla had many interesting shapes in the 10 minutes I watched it.

6/8/2014. This cell SW of Simla had many interesting shapes in the 10 minutes I watched it.

6/8/2014.  This cell SW of Simla had many interesting shapes in the 10 minutes I watched it.

6/8/2014. This cell SW of Simla had many interesting shapes in the 10 minutes I watched it.

6/8/2014.  South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

6/8/2014. South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado or more likely gustnado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

6/8/2014.  South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

6/8/2014. South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

6/8/2014.  South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

6/8/2014. South of Matheson I saw what looked to be a weak tornado; but before I could catch up to it the rain and hail overtook us both.

Given I saw no funnel or condensation tube, I’m going to chalk this up to a gustnado, but definitely lots of dirt and rotation on the ground!

There were two warnings today for Larkspur area..

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DENVER CO
1236 PM MDT SUN JUN 8 2014

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DENVER HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR…
CENTRAL DOUGLAS COUNTY IN NORTHEAST COLORADO…

* UNTIL 100 PM MDT

* AT 1235 PM MDT…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A
TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR SPRUCEWOOD…OR 25 MILES SOUTH OF
DENVER…MOVING EAST AT 10 MPH.

HAZARD…TORNADO AND QUARTER SIZE HAIL.

SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED ROTATION.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE…
CASTLE ROCK…ROXBOROUGH PARK…LARKSPUR…DEVILS HEAD…
SPRUCEWOOD…PERRY PARK AND SEDALIA.

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DENVER CO
109 PM MDT SUN JUN 8 2014

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DENVER HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR…
SOUTHEASTERN DOUGLAS COUNTY IN NORTHEAST COLORADO…

* UNTIL 145 PM MDT

* AT 109 PM MDT…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A
TORNADO WAS LOCATED 7 MILES NORTHEAST OF LARKSPUR…OR 29 MILES
NORTH OF COLORADO SPRINGS…MOVING EAST AT 20 MPH.

HAZARD…TORNADO AND HALF DOLLAR SIZE HAIL.

SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED ROTATION.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE…
CASTLE ROCK…LARKSPUR…FRANKTOWN…GREENLAND…PERRY PARK AND THE
PINERY.

Colorful Colorado Tornadic Supercell – May 21, 2014

Finally spring has arrived!  I swept off the dust on the old Baron Mobile Threat Net unit and reactivated my subscription and tuned up the technology in my chase vehicle…now I’m ready to chase!  Anticipating that May 21, 2014 would be a Denver Cyclone Regime I planned ahead and was ready to head out early for a fun first chase of 2014.  Adam Boggs was also up for heading out and so we planned the rendezvous at Brighton. Adam, a fellow chaser, is an incredible navigator and can keep an eye on the sky while I drive which is so much better than chasing alone!

I anticipated due to the higher dewpoints that it would be a hazy day and likely that the supercell modes would be HP.  This is somewhat dangerous to chase as often any tornadoes are rain wrapped and you have to be right there to witness them.  So our strategy for the day was to get directly in front of the storm and let it chase us, getting a great view of the structure and possibly seeing any tornado that was not rain wrapped.

Several cells popped up over the high country but quickly merged into one large supercell southwest of Denver.  All the cells northwest of Denver were quickly vanishing as they came onto the front range, so there was only one play, the Denver Supercell.  Chasing in a city is simply dangerous, hence why we were waiting just NE of the city for it to come to us.  Adam and I intercepted this storm as it was “putting down tornadoes” in the Aurora area, we were north of DIA.

NOTE:  Click on any image for a larger view…on some photos I upped the brightness a bit because it was very dark under these storms.

Colorado Supercell SW of DIA

Here the Supercell went Tornado Warned for the first time

Adam taking a snapshot

Adam taking a snapshot

We repositioned getting closer.  With the sun behind the cell from our vantage point, the colors were really starting to “pop”.  The contrast with the newly green wheat fields were making this storm spectacular.  There were planes still landing at DIA as this storm encroached; eventually folks at the airport went to shelters and there was so much hail the snowplows had to clear the runways.

Supercell near DIA

Supercell near DIA

Mature supercell

Mature supercell

As with any chase, it is a game of get into position, take some pictures and take in the beauty of the storm, then reposition again, and so on.  The next tornado was reported in Watkins.  We were about 3 miles NE of there at this time and didn’t see any tornado, obviously it was rain wrapped.  However with our view directly in the path of the storm the colors were amazing!  If you’ve ever heard about the “clouds being green” when there is hail near; this is what they mean…

Supercell with tornado near Watkins

Supercell with tornado near Watkins

We were just mesmerized by the colors of the storm at this point in time.  It was likely the most beautiful supercell I’ve witnessed from a color perspective!  The pictures just don’t do it justice!

Fantastic colors of this tornadic supercell near Watkins

Fantastic colors of this tornadic supercell near Watkins

Gorgeous colored tornadic supercell

Gorgeous colored tornadic supercell

Once again we repositioned to keep the storm from pummeling us with big hail and potential tornadoes.    We figured since this beast kept putting down tornadoes (that we didn’t see even though we were “right there”); we’re bound to see one if we continue with our great position.  Unfortunately there was just too much moisture…

Supercell-2032

Tornadic supercell continues to put out some incredible colors

Nasty supercell

Wouldn’t want to be in this core…

For most of the chase thus far, and especially at this time, the clouds were churning and swirling but there was no tight visible rotation to call into the National Weather Service. Since we weren’t core punching and were ahead of the storm all day, we couldn’t report any hail events either.  There were enough chasers on the road and only one storm that we figured any severe event would be witnessed and called into NWS.

North of Bennett this lowering caught our eye; but again not enough visible rotation to call it a funnel.  This is about a mile or two away.

Fantastic feature although no visible tight rotation

Fantastic feature although no visible tight rotation

colorado supercell

Looking away from the core of the storm; incredible colored inflow!

Looking straight up.  Colors everywhere!

Looking straight up. Colors continued to be amazing!

Great looking structure

Great looking structure and interesting “finger”…

Simply said...WOW!

Simply stated…WOW!

Looking NE at the inflow Beaver Tail

Looking NE at the inflow Beaver Tail

As we were driving Adam suggested we stop to take some pictures as there was something behind us that wasn’t normal.  The rain band had taken on an eerie look.  It must have been due to lighting with the position of the sun and our position.  Anyway, the colors were still phenomenal and we got this unique rainband shadow thing next to the core of the storm!  Cool!

Weird but cool cloud shadow?

Weird but cool cloud shadow?

Wonderful contrast of this supercell!

Wonderful contrast of this supercell!

Excellent storm, excellent chase!

Excellent storm, excellent chase!

All in all, this was a fantastic chase.  Although we were in great position with this tornadic supercell all afternoon, we never did see any tornadoes even though 8 were reported.  I suspect they were rain wrapped and only visible if you were “right there”…but it is odd that going through a city that no pictures have turned up yet given nearly everyone has a camera.  We’ll wait and see what the final count ends up being later this year when the NWS finishes its analysis. We only got into the hail a couple of times with the largest being larger than quarter size…otherwise a perfect chase day!

This supercell was overtaken by a line of storms coming north and that is when we threw in the hat.  We ended up in Fort Morgan, had some dinner, and had a relaxing drive back to Brighton where we first met up.  Looking forward to more great chases this spring!

Chase: June 7, 2012. Palmer Divide – Calhan Tornado

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.

NOTE:  Click on any picture for an enlarged and higher resolution version (they look better larger). 

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.

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2

This was a monster…and the structure was incredible!

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2-2

Backhalf of this supercell; it was huge!

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2-3

Looking Southeast…

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2-5

This supercell was tornado warned at this time.

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2-6

Incredible structure. Could that have been the tornado the sirens were blaring for?

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2-12

Storm structure remains incredible as the storm heads towards Calhan.

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2-13

Repositioned to stay ahead of the supercell!

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2-14

Awesome structure, still!

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2-15

Tail cloud plus incredible vault! Love the blue veins!

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.

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2-16

Calhan tornado behind the rain!

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2-17

Calhan tornado June 7 2012

SimlaSupercell-20130607-2-18

Just after the tornado – I got back in front of the storm

SimlaSupercell-20130607-4927

Great structure in this supercell all day!

 

Overall, great day.  Saw two tornadoes, a ghostly mothership, and had a fantastic chase!

Cherokee Oklahoma Selenite – Spring 2012

We’ve been wanting to do this trip for a while; so we decided to embark on a long 3-day weekend trip with my dad and my kids to go Selenite digging in the Great Salt Plains in North-central Oklahoma.  I did some calling around and because of the oil boom and the Wynoka Rattlesnake Festival no hotels were available except in Enid; so we opted for a place in neighboring Anthony Kansas–the Anthony Motel & Cafe.

The Cafe was closed and I think we were the only non-oil industry guests at the motel; but it was nice enough…we got the Harley room so who could ask for more? Got there Friday evening and hung out in the room and went to bed early.  Drove south to Cherokee OK on Saturday morning and headed out to the Salt Plains.  Being a storm chaser as well; I was amazed that we were in the center of the high risk area; so we kept our eye open for building storms all day…

The wind was brutal; about a 30-40 mile southerly wind all day that picked up about 3:00pm…so we decided we had enough digging and decided to leave.  Of course, like everyone else, we lost several things that blew out of the back of the truck and we couldn’t catch them it was blowing so hard!

We dug all day and found that the Selenites were a couple of inches below the ground.  Hunter discovered that if you dug near the standing water you’d find crystals right away.  They said to dig a hole in the sand, let it fill with water (we are at the water table) and then use a bucket or can to wash the sand from the walls.  This did work and crystals did fall into the murky, sandy water; but we discovered that the Crystals exist right at the interface between the sand and clay usually; so we ended up just digging horizontal about 3″ below that interface and then pulling out the crystals on the top of the sand rather than in the water…seemed quicker and easier.  You can either set out the crystals in the wind to dry; or just toss them in a bucket…we did both.

There appeared to be several types of crystals.  Those that formed in the sand, we called them “Sandy”.  Those that formed in the clay that were larger and brownish.  Those that formed in clay that were bow-ties of sand in clear crystals, we called them “bow ties”.  Those that formed in both sand and clay; we called them “changlings”.

Note that digging this way you have to be careful with your shovel as it is easy to break or bend it…we bent one of ours and another person there broke their metal shovel.  The clay is stiff and heavy; so go easy.  Daphne discovered the “motherload” of the day which put us into the great clusters and bow-tie crystals…of course this was just before we wanted to leave so we ended up staying an extra hour…but it was worth it.

Storm Prediction Center issues a high risk; we were in the center of it!

Storm Prediction Center issues a high risk; we were in the center of it!

We went home and saw the storms forming on radar…the ones that looked to impact our location of Anthony were at the time near Woodward, OK; which is where several folks died.  The storm directly impacted Cherokee where we were all day (note that when we drove through every carwash and other bay was taken by cars already).  I decided not to chase the storms given I was with the family and in Erin’s truck (hail damage was not an option; plus some of the side dirt roads would not be good in her car) so we decided to hang out in Anthony.  About dark; the storm came through and we took refuge in the local funeral home basement; which was the normal storm shelter after the sirens started blaring!  The kids got a good experience of what it is like to be a citizen in tornado prone areas (they’ve been on several chases with me prior…so they know that side too; which isn’t as scary).  The twister went about 4 miles SE of town on its way to Wichita.

On the way home Daphne wanted to see “tornado damage” so I chose a route to put us through where I read there were touch-downs.  We saw some damage near Hudson which was relatively minor; albeit still scary!

Overall a great trip, some amazing crystals and chased by a storm on a high risk day in the heart of tornado alley! Great fun!

Rural small town propaganda.  Obama Care wasn't popular with this guy and his junk

Rural small town propaganda. Obama Care wasn’t popular with this guy and his junk

Rural propaganda

Rural propaganda

Our hotel in Anthony Kansas, the "Harley Room"

Our hotel in Anthony Kansas, the “Harley Room”

Just south of Cherokee, Oklahoma

Just south of Cherokee, Oklahoma

Entrance to the state park

Entrance to the state park

Driving into the salt flats; used to be trees and winter wheat everywhere...

Driving into the salt flats; used to be trees and winter wheat everywhere…

Just in case you dig up some old military heirlooms

Just in case you dig up some old military heirlooms

Tornadic storm after the core passed just south and east of Anthony.

Tornadic storm after the core passed just south and east of Anthony.

Tornado thrown sheet metal into a power line

Tornado thrown sheet metal into a power line

Some of the nicer clusters of bowtie selenite

Some of the nicer clusters of bowtie selenite

More clusters of selenite

More clusters of selenite

Nice bowtie selenites

Nice bowtie selenites

Cool cluster of selenite

Cool cluster of selenite

We brought home two classifiers filled with crystals!

We brought home two classifiers filled with crystals!

Some of the nice selenite finds

Some of the nice selenite finds

Interesting selenite crystals, not the normal "bowtie" blades

Interesting selenite crystals, not the normal “bowtie” blades

Cool clusters of selenite

Cool clusters of selenite

Some of the larger bowtie selenite crystals

Some of the larger bowtie selenite crystals

List of Tornados I’ve Witnessed

Someone asked me about all the twisters I have seen and it got me thinking back on all of those good times. I decided to write down this list as it seems with the passing years I have a more difficult time remembering each one of them. I have photos and videos for most of the new ones; and have a couple of photos of the older ones somewhere; hopefully someday I’ll dig those out of my folks photo albums.

July 1977 South of Johnstown

From the deck of my hometown house we could see a landspout looking structure south of town (we were on the north side; about 5 blocks and over a slight hill is the southern end of town–so we saw it clear in the sky south of town). Dad immediately grabbed our neighbor Wayne (who is a photo genius) and we headed out in my dad’s old truck to check it out. My first chase!

I was starting to see it over the hill when Wayne told my dad to turn around as it was spinning right on us. I looked up and saw the swirl in the clouds that I will see many times throughout my life. That ended my first chase as a kid! I’ve been absolutely hooked since.

April 1983? Key Largo Florida waterspout

Still verifying the date; will have to cross-reference from vacation pictures someday at my folks place.

This was a fun story; it was stormy at our hotel on the beach in Key Largo, FL and I was on the beach. I saw a funnel come down into the ocean many miles away. I got excited and went to fetch a camera in the hotel room. I was sprinting up the stairwell steps and accidentally ran into a lady walking the other way; I missed her, mostly, and I apologized profusely; when asked the reason I was in “such a hurry” I said to fetch a camera for the twister. She told me how I didn’t know what I was talking about; “this is not tornado weather, I am from Kansas I should know”. She went on and on telling me how stupid I was, meanwhile I was missing the show! I couldn’t take it anymore and said sorry and bolted off to fetch the camera. By the time I arrived at the beach again, it was gone…I’m sure it was gone when she checked it out too, knowing my luck! Crazy kid!

June 1987? landspout west of Johnstown (called 911) (filmed on betamax)

This one was cool. I was hanging out with a buddy Dave and he was splitting for dinner; walking him to his car we looked west directly up the street and I saw a funnel behind the trees beyond the end of town. I saw the dim outline of landspout dust near the ground. I ran inside and grabbed my Dad’s Beta-max video recorder and filmed this cool tornado for about a minute or two before it was completely obscured by the trees.

I called 911 and the lady said she wouldn’t raise the sirens unless someone else called it in. I had no clue of NWS at the time and wasn’t an official spotter, so my only experience listening to Dad’s fire department pager was to call 911. Because of the lengthy conversation with 911 I missed some of the tornado, but still got a little on video tape.

July 1987? Milliken / Gilcrest landspout (in clouds) (filmed on Beta-max)

This one was sweet. I went outside for some reason and looked up at the clouds and they were dark and dreary. I got my Dad’s Beta-max camera, got on my bike and rode to the far eastern edge of town (about 3/4 mile away). I filmed this incredible skinny tube that made it half-way to the ground did a 180 degree U-turn and then started back up. It disappeared into the clouds so all there was a U shaped rope!

Then I noted several miles to the north it came back down to the ground kicking up some dirt from the fields. What crazy structure! I’d estimate it was directly north of Milliken at this time in the Big Thompson River valley. I ran to my friend’s house that lived right there and called 911; then we watched in the field across the street from his house until it roped out. I got some sweet video, probably 10 minutes worth on tape! Oh, and once again, 911 wouldn’t officially run the sirens in town unless the sheriff gave a confirmation, which didn’t happen. Luckily no damage was done that I heard of.

Got about 10 minutes on video tape. Nice mix tape so far, the one above too and a funnel from another storm! NOTE: The whereabouts of this tape is unknown. I don’t know if my mom donated the tapes or perhaps it got recorded over (I reviewed most of our old tapes in my college days and didn’t find this particular one, bummer!), so I’ve never heard or seen of these storms since. Keep an eye out at some thrift store near you!

Spring 1990. Officially trained and certified with National Weather Service as a storm spotter. I went with my dad at the training in Greeley in about 1990. That was a great and useful course; I still refer back to the manual they gave us for storm structure schematics!

June 15, 1990?89? (http://www.thorntonweather.com/blog/weather-history/june-12-to-june-18-this-week-in-denver-weather-history/). Colorado National Speedway. I think the year is wrong, they say 97 in the article; I remember Fathers Day, 1989, 90, 91 timeframe? Perhaps a different storm? Any ideas? Father Days landed on: Jun 18 89, Jun 17 90, Jun 16 91, Jun 21 92, Jun 20 93, Jun 19 94

This one is pure luck. We were sitting down for dinner on the Fathers Day or similar celebration dinner with my family (don’t remember the exact year, the one in the article is not the correct storm). I looked out the dining room window towards the south and saw the evil looking finger in the sky far south of town. I only saw it for about a minute before it was obstructed by houses. Since we were in the middle of dinner; no one shared my enthusiasm to run out and chase it. Heard it reported over the police/fire scanner and later the news said a tornado was by Colorado National Speedway, I believe it tore up a couple of trash cans, maybe some of the stands. I’m still researching, if you remember this twister and any details of it give me a shout.

March 23, 1996; Jefferson County Airport inflow band touchdown

This one was way cool; but this was before I carried some kind of camera with me. I was driving home to Boulder from work in Golden. Along Hwy 93 intersection of McCasulin at the open space parking lot I parked and checked out the eerie clouds. However, in the nice inflow structure/tail a little section started to swirl, you know, the good swirl in the clouds that can only mean one thing. I estimate less than 15 seconds later there was a nice funnel cloud.

The funnel came down and hit the grounds somewhere probably West or a bit NW of Jeffco Airport. There was a tornado in Boulder that day too that was very photogenic; but the one I saw wasn’t it. Another person pulled into the parking lot to go mountain biking and he saw the tail end of it too! It was about 8 minutes later the guy in the bike arrived. The tornado had just roped out before he got there…and he didn’t believe us on how close it was to him.

I drove by Nate’s place in Broomfield and knocked on the door. He answered the door and had a surprised look on his face. I snagged him and we chased the storm. My sister took this when the storm was out west of Fort Lupton, the only shot of that storm that I know of.

Jefferson County Colorado Supercell March 1996.

Jefferson County Colorado Supercell March 1996.

So, I got tired of getting pelted with hail, so I purchased a Baron WX Mobile Threat Net Weather station for the car; only went out in college periodically because I was so busy all the time and couldn’t see the storms out far east of town. After working at NOAA in Boulder I realized that technology is it and after the last storm I was hooked again! Because of work constraints, however, I didn’t really get to go out much until the late 90s. Instead I watched storms over the internet and see what my target would have looked like. I learned a lot and did this for years. Here are some shots of the dash of my chase vehicle.

After learning “DaBaron” I wanted to try it out; but loved the idea of being driven around the plains, staying at a nice, clean hotel and getting up and predicting the weather each morning. This was on the Silver Lining Tours Master Class tour. 10 days on the plains, learning weather (got some nice software and skills on the trip). Was a great time; I have a DVD if you want to swap one of yours.

Here is my tour summary.

Here is the Silver Lining Tours summary.

June 7 2005 South Dakota badlands, SW of Wanblee SD, Jackson County

Jackson County Tornado June 7 2005

Jackson County Tornado June 7 2005

June 9, 2005. Hill City Kansas #0 (This was reported to the NWS by the folks I was with; he was a NWS employee, but this picture isn’t that great).

Hill City Tornado, June 9, 2005

Hill City Tornado, June 9, 2005

June 9, 2005.  Hill City Kansas #1 (Truncated Cone)

Hill City Tornado June 9, 2005

Hill City Tornado June 9, 2005

June 9, 2005.  Hill City Kansas #2 (The infamous tornado)

Hill City Tornado June 9, 2005

Hill City Kansas Tornado June 9, 2005

June 9 2005 Palco Kansas

Palco Tornado, June 9, 2005

Palco Tornado, June 9, 2005

June 9 2005 Damar Kansas double twister

Damar Double Tornado June 9, 2005

Damar Double Tornado June 9, 2005

June 9 2005 Ellis County Kansas

Ellis County Tornado, June 9, 2005

Ellis County Tornado, June 9, 2005

June 11 2005 Caprock Texas (or was it 10th)

Caprock Tornado, June 11, 2005

Caprock Tornado, June 11, 2005

June 12 2005 sw of Jayton Texas (Kent Co) #1

Kent County Twister #1

Kent County Twister #1

June 12 2005 SW of Jayton Texas (Kent Co) #2

Kent County Tornado, June 12, 2005

Kent County Tornado, June 12, 2005

June 12 2005 SW of Girard Texas #3 multivortex

Kent County Multi-vortex June 12, 2005

Kent County Multi-vortex June 12, 2005

June 12 2005 SW of Girard Texas #3

 

June 12 2005 Jayton/Hamlin Texas #4

Hamlin Tornado, June 12, 2005

Hamlin Tornado, June 12, 2005

June 14 2005 Trego Center Kansas Mothership (this was confirmed by Doppler on Wheels that was right next to us)

Trego County Tornado, June 14, 2005

Trego County Toranado, June 14, 2005

What a great learning experience! Much quicker than learning it without for sure! I had a blast and I highly recommend Silver Lining Tours!

(((Doing what I could I got in some chasing in 2006 and 2007; but work schedule prevented me from doing too many chases; thus no tornados but many great structure, lightning and storm photos!)))

May 22 2008 Hoxie Kansas

This is the same day as the Windsor tornado. I was past Sebert and didn’t think I’d make it back to the Front Range, especially since the storm was moving Northwest (huh?). Kansas was supposed to go bonkers on two consecutive days…I chose to chase western Kansas!

I ended up in good position on a Tornado Warned storm but needed to hold out for the core to cross the road; this was west of Hoxie Kansas and I didn’t think it wise to core-punch this beast. That ended up being a very wise move! I pulled off in the field entrance and watched several storm chasers get ditched on a slick-as-ice road (I tried it and backed up). I got just a couple of still shots that are quite Photoshop-ed to get good contrast; it was a HP supercell day! Immediately when the cell passed the road I headed east to get into great position, but ended up stopped by downed power lines (and a roof) across the road. The power lines were snapped in 3 or 4 segments, wow! It seemed so cruel to me for the Mother Nature to blow away two of the homes in the middle of no-where–miles and miles of nothing in every direction! The tornado was pretty big from the video I’ve seen, I think I saw it beginning to rope out and come out of its rain-wrapped environment.

Hoxie Tornado May 22, 2008

Hoxie Tornado May 22, 2008

June 15 2009 Elbert County Colorado #1
It was Daphne’s 5th birthday and I worked from home so I could go out and chase this day. I targeted the Palmer Divide and assumed action would start around 3pm. I was waiting for my new HD video camera to be delivered. The moment UPS arrived the storm of the day was passing over; so I hopped in the car and headed out. About 7 miles from home I caught this awesome supercell; chased it to Colby Kansas and saw the best stuff here! Amazing that the battery came charged enough to take this amazing video!

Elbert County #1, June 15, 2009

Elbert County #1, June 15, 2009

June 15 2009 Elbert County Colorado #2

Elbert County #2, June 15, 2009

Elbert County #2, June 15, 2009

June 15 2009 Elbert County Colorado #3 (plus satellite #4)

It then dissipated as you see in the video; but a need then comes back out of the cloud. The video is six to eight times sped up, so this was about 30 minutes of video if I remember correctly). The original funnel had left and I couldn’t detect much rotation; but then a needle came back down probably out of the same Meso-structure; very cool. I then took off to go after it. I drove through Elbert County and over one hill I saw a huge funnel with a sattelite tornado around it. I can’t confirm these were on the ground; I didn’t have a good shot and was hoping around the next turn there would be one but there wasn’t. So I only got a shot while driving which wasn’t so good (the focus was on driving at that time). I followed it to Colby KS; had an exciting encounter with hail and incredible (and scary) structure.

Elbert County #3, June 15, 2009

Elbert County #3, June 15, 2009

Elbert County #4 Satellite, June 15, 2009

Elbert County #4 Satellite, June 15, 2009

Music in the following by my band, Multicast…

June 7, 2012:  Palmer Divide / Agate Tornado

I what appeared to be a brief tornado but because I couldn’t confirm rotation from my location I figured it was just scud.  But after watching some other chaser’s video I realized that I did witness a tornado between Agate and Deer Trail on this monsterous supercell.  I was driving at the time so I don’t have a picture or video.

June 7, 2012:  Simla, CO Torando

I had gained good position on this amazing structure supercell and it was tornado warned as it headed NW of Simla.  From my vantage point I couldn’t 100% confirm a tornado but after confirmation from other chaser video and accounts I do believe I saw a tornado; and the position of the tornado was consistent in the meso as the later Calhan tornado.

Funnel embedded in rain core, NW of Simla Co June 7, 2012

Funnel embedded in rain core, NW of Simla Co June 7, 2012

 

June 7, 2012.  Calhan tornado.

As I was driving I saw a funnel form but there was no good place to pull off the road at the time; so I continued to watch while the funnel grew in size.  I eventually was able to pull over and got some cool shots as the funnel drifted into the rain core.  Later video capture shows the funnel back-lit by lightning.  Although I never did see the funnel reach the ground; chasers closer to the storm did confirm and there was damage.  I was trying to stay in front of the storm to capture structure shots so I wasn’t as close as others.

June 7, 2102 Calhan, CO Tornado as it drfited into the rain core

June 7, 2012 Calhan CO Torando as it drifed into the rain core

 August 10, 2013.

It’s ALWAYS exciting to visit the San Luis Valley; there are dust devils every time; and as you guessed it, I’m not picky, I love dust devils! We went down to the Gator Farm during our Ruby Mountain camping trip; as we were eating lunch I looked off to the NW down the driveway and saw a beautiful landspout. Of course, I had already put my camera away; so I trucked it down to the truck and grabbed the equipment.

I was able to get this twister as it backed into the rain and then became obscured. It was so much better earlier in its life; but I’m just glad to have gotten a picture to remember it by! Saw a bunch of gustnadoes this day too; but this one was official!

July 28, 2014 – Rocky Mountain Arsenal landspout

Full detail here.  Sitting at work and seeing the lighting, I got up and looked out the window to be treated to a funnel and eventually landspout tornado right outside of my office window!

Great short chase, less than 20 feet and no driving required! :)

Great short chase, less than 20 feet and no driving required! 🙂

Summary. That’s it for the official count. I have seen lots of wall clouds, funnels, swirls, gust-nadoes, etc; but I only count them if I can confirm it is a tornado (and I call that into the weather service). In the last several years I’ve not seen any “official” twisters but I have seen many situations that were highly suspect…just couldn’t confirm rotation or ground debris usually because I was in bad position relative to that part of the storm. I’ve also been on many storms with confirmed tornadoes but just in the wrong place; part of the fun of chasing!

Can’t wait for the next season!!!

2005 Tornado Tour – Silver Lining Tours’ Master Class journal

I had been wanting to take a tornado tour ever since they were first offered; the thought of not having to drive and get to see how hard-core storm chasers travel everywhere sounded great; and this company had the “Master Class Tour” which was a severe storm forecasting class at the same time as a tour! Perfect!
Here is the original journal I posted with pictures while on the tour to communicate back to loved ones and friends! What a great trip and opportunity!

Day 1 – Jackson County SD Badlands Twister
Day 2 – NE Kansas/Missouri Supercells
Day 3 – NW Kansas Tornadofest
Day 4 – Oklahoma & Texas Panhandle Supercells
Day 5 – Texas Panhandle Caprock Twister
Day 6 – Texas Panhandle Twisters
Day 7 – Iowa Supercell
Day 8 – Lectures, Forecasting and recharging
Day 9 – Trego County Mothership

May 26, 2010. Aurora to the boonies north of Fort Morgan.

First, here is a link to some photos, several are below… Click here to view the slideshow.

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.


More lightning.


What a great chase!

Chase: Elizabeth Tornado June 15, 2009

What a great day.  Here is a chase log for the tornadic supercell that started in Larkspur!  Saw two tornadoes and followed the storm into Western Kansas.

First and foremost, Happy Birthday Daphne!

There was a moderate risk issued by the SPC for much of Kansas today, and that was my initial target, but I got a late start as I was awaiting UPS to deliver my new HD Canon VIXIA HF-20 camcorder, I’ve been anxious to check this baby out!  What a day to do it!  Eastern Colorado was in a Slight Risk area.  Note that at the end of this document I have a YouTube URL of some of the video footage I took, make sure and check that out too!

I left home about 12:30 and looking north I saw some awesome convection, so I immediately chose to go to my favorite spot about 10 miles east with a 360 view.  The storm was definitely looking great and it was severe thunderstorm warned, here is what I saw from my house…

Larkspur supercell

Storm exploding as I was leaving my driveway

Here is what I saw when I got to my favorite spot…this is looking over west Parker.

North of Larkspur

Looking north from Larkspur area, starting to hail.

Again, the radar showed that this storm was Severe warned, my guess is for hail (as seen in the above picture) but I haven’t looked at the warning yet.  Notice on the Baron unit that it shows some rotation on the southern section of the storm, about 5 miles to my east (I’m the little white car in the center of the radar, the “yellow rings” denote 10 miles radius from my GPS location!!

Elbert County Radar

Radar showing the cell as it entered Elbert County

Then, out of the northern section of the storm this formation formed.  It was not really rotating, at least not enough to get excited about, but it was really cool looking!  I got the tripod setup and the camcorder recording.  I have some great footage of this formation (time lapsed it is awesome) of the storm.

non-funnel

Great formation; no rotation even though it looks like a funnel

Meanwhile, looking back at the radar, the southern end of this storm was really starting to churn.  Could this be a lucky day to see a tornado?  I was hopeful at this time!  Still no tornado warning or watch box, both that would be issued in the next 30 minutes.

Radar when rotation was visible

Storm starting to curl up and rotate on the southern flank. I called the NWS and reported quick rotation.

Then, I noticed the rotation in the southern flank of the storm.  It started just below cloud level and creeped down towards the ground.  It was about 6-7 miles away at this time.  I called the NWS at this time to report a funnel cloud and the intense rotation.  This was taken at 1:28pm.  So far, I’m about 7 miles from home on this chase! 😉

Funnel forming

Funnel forming.

Slowly but surely the funnel took a typical funnel shape.  This reminds me of the funnel I saw in the Badlands of South Dakota in 2005 and the one in extreme SW Nebraska on June 1 this year.  I couldn’t confirm that it was on the ground yet, though, as the hill was in the way, so I was still calling this a funnel.

Funnel slowly forming

Structure is awesome, funnel was slowly forming

The funnel slowly started to get bigger so by this time it was nice and fat.  I can’t confirm if it was on the ground yet or not.  I was hearing eye-witnesses at the time on the radio saying it was a HUGE tornado.  All I can say it was taking its time and it was something amazing to watch!

Nice funnel cloud

Nice funnel cloud

Guessing, I would say it is on the ground now.  This shot was taken at 1:40pm.

Debris on the ground

I could finally see debris on the ground

It is definitely on the ground now, I can see the debris cloud.  This was taken at

Tornado roping out

Tornado roping out

Yet another look at the tornado as it was bouncing up and down from within the cloud, but the whole time I observed debris swirling on the ground even though at times I couldn’t even see a funnel!

Second tornado

Second tornado

The tornado went out of view because of the rain and thus forced me to actually chase this storm! 😉  I jetted down to HWY 83 and then east on my favorite back roads towards Elbert.  At one point when there wasn’t buttes in the way I could see a rotating funnel.

Third and forth tornado

Third and forth tornado

Then this funnel occluded and another tornado formed just to the NE of it.  I had one better view of the tornado just before this, it was a bit fatter but driving and taking a picture I haven’t mastered yet, so I only got the clouds above it.

The chase

Trying to catch up to the storm as it continues to put down tornadoes

I met up with a couple of first time chasers about this time and we drove out to HWY 24.  This was taken before Calhan, there was definitely rotation still going on, visually and also on the radar.

Still active rotation near Calhan

Still active rotation near Calhan

Here’s another wall cloud that was forming right off the road to the SE of me!  Strong rotation but no funnel.

Heading towards Kansas

Heading towards Kansas

So I followed this storm all the way to Kansas as it was really the only storm within range and proven itself, why leave it.  At Burlington I had to punch through the storm and I figured now was my chance or the storm would get south of me (bad viewing from the North side) in VERY rural Western Kansas where there was limited road access.  Plus the storm had passed the dryline and was getting into much more instable air.  The supercell took on a whole different shape and life at this point.  As I came out of the storm this is what I saw looking south.  Notice the green “veins”, I’ve never seen this before, it was beautiful structure.  I stopped at the rest area to get some better shots, but the storm was picking up speed and the hail I went through was likely getting bigger, so there was no time to take pictures at this time.  Note that this storm had been tornado warned pretty much solid since Elbert County, although I didn’t see any tornadoes with it.  The shot was taken at 6:27 pm MDT.

South of Goodland, awesome structure

South of Goodland, awesome structure

I got to Goodland and headed south.  As soon as I was far enough out of town I had to stop and take some pictures of this amazing supercell structure!  This shot was south of me, you can see the other chasers (smartly) trying to beat the hail coming.

South of Goodland, awesome structure

South of Goodland, awesome structure

This is right in front of me (notice the STOP sign, really appropriate this day!), and after getting a quick shot with my camcorder I headed south again.  Unfortunately the storm was completely changing and reforming at the time and I ended up getting into the hail core.  It was like a hurricane, the winds, totally horizontal, and the hail coming down looked like waves on the road…no joke.  Am I in a hurricane in Western Kansas?

Amazing structure!

Amazing structure!

Shortly I was out of the precipitation and I had to decide if I was going to try and go north again and catch the wrong side or the storm, or head south  and parallel it.  Since the storm motion was ESE I decided to get a little south of it and then take the diagonal HWY 40 out of Sharon Springs.  I decided to do the south route in hopes of getting some good view of storm structure, which I did.  Nice beaver tail action on this baby!

South of supercell

South of supercell

The southern end of the storm that was so intense just 30 minutes before was quickly fizzling out as it intercected my HWY 40 route.  I took State Road 25 north to Colby in one last effort to catch the intense part of the storm.  Then decided it was time to head home as I didn’t feel like staying out too late (had to work in the morning) for lightening shots, plus these storms were moving quick.

20_PotOGold_IMG_0684

I guess “gold” in western Kansas is grain, which these rural towns are built upon, as I discovered in this shot.

21_goodbye_supercell_IMG_07

Goodbye Storm!

I have some pretty neat footage that I’ve made available on YouTube in High Definition as I got some footage that was completely different than all the footage I’ve seen thus far from this storm.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybLaHLf2wVA

Overall, 13 hours on the road, about 660 miles.  My 4th day this season chasing.