July 13, 2011 Parker Lightning Show

UPDATE: July 2012. I did some updates to WordPress and some older posts using an obsolete gallery program seems to not be working; so I am reposting these pictures, which are some of my favorites, a bit larger in resolution this time.  Seems appropriate day to repost nature’s fireworks since most 4th of July fireworks displays near here have been cancelled…

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!

The bolts were pretty close so I was shooting on a tripod while safely in the car. The intensity of the bolts were incredible, so it took a little time to a) get the focus set and b) get the aperture setting adjusted–typically I just hit the lowest f-stop; these were all around f5, ISO 400, 42mm. I let it run at 10 second exposures and about every couple of minutes got a bolt!

The bolts were consistently across the valley (I should do a stack in Photoshop…hmmm) but once the storm on my west crept up I started getting rain and the bolts were coming my way so I decided to call it a night.

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Chase: Colorado Gustnadoes. 6/15/13

I really wanted to go out on this day; for many reasons; one being that Colorado has been void of severe this spring.  It looked a lot like the 2009 day where I caught a nice long funnel/tornado and several more tornadoes from the same storm about 10 miles from home…so I guess I figured Mother Nature was on a 4 year repeat cycle!

Well, it didn’t really turn out that way.  But it started the same.  I caught the storm from my driveway and followed it to basically Arriba.  I stayed immediately in front of the storm’s core playing jump frog with the outer gust front of the storm.  Let’s just say this is one of the dirtiest storms I’ve chased; lots of outflow dust, gustnadoes, and messy microbursts.

Finally, when the storm was starting to fade I decided to leave it and catch the next storm; it was only 7pm…but that was it for the day.  Weird.  No lightning at night on the way home; as a matter of fact I got home right at dusk.

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July 6, 2011 Front Range Supercell

Although storms this day didn’t amount to much severe activity, there was some nice looking clouds and I was able to get home early too! Nice after work chase! Pictures were taken near Bennett.

NWS Radar

I believe this is the National Weather Service radar

Fun after work chase

Fun after work chase

Nice inflow tails

Nice inflow tails

My favorite shot of the day

My favorite shot of the day

Low hanging clouds

Clouds were very low to the ground

cool clouds

Angry Clouds

Angry looking thing

June 17, 2011 Kit Carson County Supercell

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!

Nice looking lowering

Nice looking lowering

lowering south of Limon

Just south of Limon on Hwy 24, interesting lowering

Storm as it passed over Limon

Storm as it passed over Limon, you can see the hail “color” in the clouds

Tail-end Charlie; need to catch the southern storm!

Tail-end Charlie; need to catch the southern storm!

Tornado warned southern storm

As I got closer to the Southern storm; it went Tornado warned at this time

Directly east of the southern storm

Directly east of the southern storm

Southern supercell building

Southern supercell building and coming right at me

Radar of the southern supercell

Radar of the southern supercell

Southern supercell getting close

Just about ready to head South and then East

Gustnado - Kit Carson County

This was reported as a tornado, I call it a gustnado and would not have reported it

Blooming Cactus

Supercell starting to form a shelf cloud

Supercell starting to form a shelf cloud

Supercell core with lightning

About 2 minutes away from big hail, I took these lightning shots in the core

Supercell core with Lightning

About 2 minutes away from big hail, I took these lightning shots in the core

Interesting clouds

Interesting feature on the cell northeast of me; this looked like a small tornado before this, but it was too far away to confirm.

Awesome shelf cloud

Awesome shelf cloud

Awesome shelf cloud

Awesome shelf cloud

smoke from burning oil well

Smoke from a burning oil well

Then the storm got dirty!

Then the storm got dirty!

Shelf clouds

Shelf cloud from the second storm as it was shaping into a MCS, time to bail

June 1, 2011 NW Kansas

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.

My chosen storm on the KS / NE line

My chosen storm on the KS / NE line

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!

Structure starting to show

My chosen storm; starting to see a lowering through the rain

Curly cue cloud

Awesome sunset between my storm and an oncoming storm

Awesome sunset between my storm and an oncoming storm

Awesome sunset

Awesome sunset between my storm and an oncoming storm

First turkey I've seen on a chase

First turkey I’ve seen on a chase

June 11, 2010 Crazy Supercell in Adams County

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

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.

Radar of the Supercell

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

This looks very much like a tornado--but 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....

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!

Very suspicious looking clouds...

Nice Clouds....

Scuddy Mess

What a Scuddy Mess!

Outflow being recycled

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!

Outflow wall cloud?

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

Nice little hook.

This was embedded in the rain, but it was weird…and suspect!

What is this?

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!

Lacking Visible Rotation?

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 is awseome

Structure was awesome!

Just south of the storm was some surreal clouds.


Surreal clouds


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!

Awesome Supercell

Awesome Supercell and Chase!

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!

April 22, 2010 Douglas & Arapahoe County

What an interesting early start to the chase season. I knew that the weather was going to get good out on the plains, but due to Hunter being sick didn’t think I was going to go out. After talking with Hunter and getting him to the doctor with meds, we needed to stay low profile so we decided for Hunter to watch movies all day…what is the difference between watching them in bed or in the back seat? So we decided to chase.

We picked up the storm in Castle Rock and while heading east on Hwy 86 the cell was tornado warned. To get in front of it we raced north on Hwy 83 (Parker Road) and finally started getting hit by hail near Parker. The traffic was really slow so I took a detour off of Hilltop and headed east.

Radar in Parker - TOR warned cell

Radar in Parker

Looking east as we got out in front of the storm we saw some serious inflow with lots of swirling going on.  I got a call from Scott Bennett, a chaser I met last year during the June 15th storm in Elbert County, who happened to be watching under this inflow at the end of Singing Hills, so we met up and chased the storm through the deep hail.  Scott ended up heading back to work at Strausburg.

Inflow east of Parker

Inflow east of Parker

Near Dear Trail I heard of the cell having a confirmed tornado, but I only saw some swirls in the clouds at that time.  We needed to get in front of the storm moving basically N-NE and so we took 71 north out of Last Chance to Woodrow and then west on CR 29.  Here we saw the storm just after it swallowed another cell and went linear.

Bow of Squall Line

Bow of the Squall Line

Here are a couple other views of the storm west of Woodrow before calling it a day.  What a great EARLY start to the Colorado chase season!  We ended up getting 20″+ of snow the next morning, then another 12″+ the next night, and about 3″ the following night!  Spring is finally here!

Looking SW of Woodrow

Looking SW of Woodrow

Hunter had a great time and did a lot of the computer work for me with the radar!  Nice to have the help!

Hunter and the storm

Hunter and the storm

And with most early spring strong low pressure systems, we have a surprise the next day!

20"+ of Heavy Wet Snow

April 23 Snow