Chase: 6+6=12 day, Northeastern Colorado Lightning

NOTE:  Click on any image for higher resolution…

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…

Plan B

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.

Lightning near Pawnee Buttes

Lightning near Pawnee Buttes

Anti crepuscular rays looking east

Anti crepuscular rays looking east

Anti crepuscular rays looking east

Anti crepuscular rays looking east

Beautiful sunset

Beautiful sunset

Gorgeous sunset in Eastern Colorado

Gorgeous sunset in Eastern Colorado

 

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!

NOTE:  If you have a flash-enabled browser then click on the FS button to watch these full screen and higher resolution!

Up close lightning near wiggins

Up close lightning near wiggins

Beautifully spiked lightning

Beautifully spiked lightning

Great lightning

Great lightning

My favorite lightning shot of the night...really close

My favorite lightning shot of the night…really close

An experiment as I entered Denver

An experiment as I entered Denver

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!

Best part, the next day even looked better for severe storms!

April 26, 2012 – Sterling supercell and Peetz lightning

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!

Supercell as we got close

Supercell as we got close

Peetz Lightning

Peetz Lightning

Peetz Lightning

Peetz Lightning

Peetz Lightning

Peetz Lightning

Peetz Lightning

Peetz Lightning

Peetz Lightning

Peetz Lightning

Peetz Lightning

Peetz Lightning

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

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 9, 2011 Adams/Morgan County Supercell

MorganSupercell2011-0078

Joined up with this great storm north of Bennett. It took it a while to get going, but once it did it took on great structure. Followed this storm until its eventual demise south of Fort Morgan. Went northwest of Fort Morgan after dark to get some great lightning that this storm and others to the west were putting down.

MorganSupercell2011-9951 MorganSupercell2011-9898 MorganSupercell2011-9893 MorganSupercell2011-9882

After dark is when the action started to happen.  Great lightning in several locations accompanied this storm!MorganSupercell2011-0172 MorganSupercell2011-0162

I especially like this lightning and how it formed a heart shape…

MorganSupercell2011-0138

MorganSupercell2011-0124

MorganSupercell2011-0107

The sunset was awesome too.  All around a great chase!

MorganSupercell2011-0064

MorganSupercell2011-0026

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

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…

Hmmm...

Hmmm....

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

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

Surreal clouds

Surreal

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!

Chase: Holy Hailballs Batman

June 10-13 were big and weird weather days here in Colorado. On June 10th, upon the drive home, a huge “mothership” supercell formed over central Douglas county.  I had left my SLR camera at home but did have a video camera, so all of the pictures of June 10 were either video capture or from my phone.

Supercell taking on Mothership structure

Talking with Scott Bennett who lives under this beast he stated that it was awesome with lots of rotating scud directly under this thing. I decided to chase for a while–but having some work to get done at home I knew it would be a short chase. I took this shot just east of Parker, south of County Line Road (Arapahoe/Douglas/Elbert area).

Supercell structure

I suspected big hail so I didn’t want to punch through this thing to get on the other side; so I decided to follow it (having a great view and good contrast). I saw several large rotations (funnels) in the clouds and lots of cool structure. I’m sure from the front this beast looked like the mother of all motherships. I decided that the storm was far enough north of my road to jump in front of it, I came over a hill and saw this…

No Rain, BIG Hailballs everywhere

I hit the brakes to get out and look at these things. Note that I saw NOTHING smaller than 1.5″ and no rain…that was weird.

Holy Hailballs Batman

I was almost with the storm when I saw this, so I thought twice about trying to pass it; there was no rain at all but hailballs everywhere, so these were obviously flying out of the south side of this storm. Given that these probably fell in the last 5 minutes, and looking at the homes I was passing with huge holes in their windows, smashed windshields on parked cars, and the frequency of these things laying everywhere, I decided punching through this stuff it would be too big of a risk.

Big 3 Inch Hail

Big 2.5 Inch Hail Everywhere

I followed the storm to Deer Trail and then realized I couldn’t get in front of it so I went home. Note there was a Tornado 4 miles NE of Deer Trail reported; I was probably watching it but being behind the storm I didn’t see it. But the structure, rotation and big hail were worth the trip. I saw some photos from the front side of this storm and it was incredible mothership structure; too bad I was too chicken to tempt the hail and get in front of it 😉

Castle Rock Sunset