June 5th Chase

Today was the third day in a row that the Colorado Front Range had a tornado watch issued. ¬†I left a little late due to a work meeting (who schedules meetings in the afternoons during storm season, how rude! ūüôā ) and headed up to follow the second cell that was tornado warned near Parker. ¬†Caught some great storm structure and had a fun time with this storm as it went in and out of tornado warned status. ¬†Once again, more Palmer Divide magic!

double tail clouds

Double tail clouds!

Tail Cloud

Cell east of Byers as it got going again. Awesome watching the tail clouds form and pass overhead!

Tornado warned at this time.

Tornado warned at this time.

outflow structure from the storm

This was cool as the outflow was getting sucked up into the cloud.

On the way home I caught the cells that were forming off of the Rampart Range west of Castle Rock to get some lightning shots.  Unfortunately it was raining anywhere near the storm, so I shot some distant photos near Castlewood Canyon, still caught some great lightning.  It produces much better photos closer to the strikes, however; but there are still months of storms to catch great lightning shots.

Possible shear funnel

This appears to be a small shear funnel on the right side of this storm looking north from Castle Rock

Lightning over the Pinery

Lightning over the Pinery

Lightning over the Pinery

Lightning over the Pinery

Lightning over the Pinery

Lightning over the Pinery

Lightning over the Pinery

Lightning over the Pinery

Lightning over the Pinery

Lightning over the Pinery

Been a fun June chasing so far!  Look forward to more days this spring!

June 4 Tornadic Supercells

Today had another round of severe weather for the Colorado Front Range including Tornadic Supercells.  I left work a bit late today due to a pending deadline so I was behind the 8-ball all day, but still was able to see some really neat storm structure.

Storms had already gone severe warned by the time I left work so I had a good idea which one to jump on.  I was targeting the storm just west of Limon as I was heading east on I-70 and then the cell near Leader was just too impressive and I had to check it out.  This is common with me when chasing as my favorite part is the storm structure and not strictly tornadoes which is the focus for many chasers.

Leader Supercell

Here is the supercell as I was passing it on the interstate as it was near Leader

Leader Tornado Warned Supercell

Awesome storm structure as this cell was tornado warned.

As I approached this storm is was obvious it was getting smaller, both on radar and visibly to my eye. ¬†It didn’t matter though, the inflow band and what I could see of the updraft were spectacular! ¬†Within 30 minutes this storm went from Tornado warned to non-existent!

Dying storm near Hoyt

Awesome structure just east of Byers, however the storm is dying

Hoyt supercell dead

Watching this supercell dwindle into nothing in less than 30 minutes!

So back onto my originally targeted strom. ¬†I made a few tactical mistakes that cost some time today–miss my chase partner Adam who was excellent at it–and ended up taking a few roads I have not done before. ¬†Due to the amount of rain the dirt roads were mud and somewhat slick so it was slow going. ¬†Sometime the shortest route is not the best route! ūüôā ¬†Meanwhile this supercell was putting down beautiful tornadoes with amazing structure. ¬†Here is what it looked like from the back (north) side (it was moving south) which is a typical view as you are approaching a storm from this perspective!

Simla Supercell

Getting back onto my primary target, it has been producing tornadoes by this time.

But perseverance pays off! ¬†I finally got on this storm a little before sunset. ¬†It had already stopped producing tornadoes although I thought there was one more left in it…but it didn’t have quite enough energy even though the mesocyclone was spinning like a top! ¬†The structure was jaw dropping, with a visibly rotating barberpole updraft. ¬†And there were no other chasers in this location when I arrived (a treat from days like yesterday where there were 100’s of chasers converged in the same area). ¬†Ended up being 4 chaser teams in my area, and we all got an amazing display from mother nature!!!

Kutch supercell

Finally caught up with this supercell. Amazing structure near Kutch.

Kutch supercell

Lucky daytime lightning caught.

Barberpole structure

As the sun started to set, the energy dwindled and the inflow started to fizzle out.  The tail cloud that formed made me thing it was going to produce another tornado in front of me, but it was just a little too late for that to happen.

Helix barberpole inflow

Nice helix barberpole inflow just before its death.

Colorado sunset

Amazing, colorful sunset

Mammatus Sunset

Nice display of Mammatus Clouds at sunset

On the way home Denver had a large severe warned cell stalled over it. ¬†On the radio they were talking about the mass amounts of hail and continuous lightning. ¬†The storm stretched the entire metro area so I jumped up to a spot I’ve been wanting to photograph lightning from near Parker and took a few shots. ¬†The lightning was incredible but it was 98% cloud-cloud and only small spikes were coming out of the cloud in this one location. ¬†Great to watch for about 20 minutes before I ended up heading home.

All-in-all, an amazing chase day, the structure of the Kutch supercell is one I will never forget!

SW Denver lightning, continuous lightning!!

SW Denver lightning, continuous lightning!!

Denver Lightning

Awesome lightning display over Denver

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!