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Thursday, May 31, 2018

July 7 Julesburg, CO LP supercell

Cu field near Ogallala, NE

Lake McConaughy
I never got around to creating a post for July 7, 2017, and the details are very hazy for me at the moment.  Go figure!!  Luckily, Bill was gracious enough to allow me to use his write-up for the day.  Before I post his account of the day, I will post what I wrote as my Facebook status the next day:
Sandhills of Nebraska

Lewellen, NE

We started in Hot Springs, SD today, and our goal was to catch a storm or tow near the Cheyenne Ridge.  We ended up intercepting a picturesque LP supercell near Arthur, NE, and we chased it down to Ovid, CO via Julesburg, CO.  We drove 589 miles and found ourselves in Denver for the night.  This was also the final day of chasing, so we said goodbye to our awesome group.  Even though the weather pattern was poor, we had storms, lots of laughs, and loads of fun.  Total mileage for the week was 2923 miles, and I drove a total of 6,632 miles during my two tours.

Now for Bill's more detailed account:  "The day previous (July 6) was a reposition day for the most part, though we did wind up with a nice lightning show during the evening in Hot Springs.  We drove the Enchanted Highway and visited Mount Rushmore, too.  Unfortunately, we were stuck in a restaurant in Hot Springs as the thunderstorm approached.  I hate it when that happens.
We had to play relatively closely to northeastern

Colorado on the 7th, since this was the tour’s final chase day and we needed to be back in Denver by midday on the 8th.  The weather gods smiled on me and provided a severe storm chance on the central High Plains.  Northwest flow at mid-levels was more than strong enough to provide adequate storm shear, and dew points near 60F on east-southeasterly upslope flow contributed to modest instability.  SPC was only marginally impressed, and they plastered a “Marginal Risk” of severe weather on the High Plains.  After lunch in Scottsbluff, we made our way south to the southern Nebraska Panhandle.  A cluster of cumulus clouds drew us towards Ogallala, Nebraska.  From a high spot in the Sandhills north of Lake McConaughy, we observed a strengthening and organizing storm base to our west-northwest.  It quickly became clear that this storm was worthwhile, and I needed to be closer.  It was rotating hard and turning to the right, or dropping to the south.  We maneuvered around the north side of the lake, and barely made it in front of the hail core to our south option near Lewellen.  The storm base was on the high side and there was a prominent clear slot near the hail shaft.  I wanted a good look at the storm structure, so we headed south towards Big Springs.  The updraft base moved south and was not too far to our west-northwest, near Big Springs.  The sun was setting and the light was great…and we were WAY too close for the structure.  I knew that the storm structure would be the main show, and I had allowed the storm to get too close.  We had to dash west a few miles and then south again to get good structure views in the great light.  I never really did get as far away as I would have liked, until we were near Julesburg at dusk.  Still, I managed to get some impressive structure shots with my wide-angle lens, and with Michael’s even wider-angle lens.  Thanks, Michael!  (My primary wide angle lens had been accidentally left behind in Denver at the beginning of the tour.)  Since the storm had been accommodating, we headed to the base hotel in Denver for the night, and I began my drive back home to L.A. a little after midnight!  My storm chase tour season for 2017 had ended."
I will also mention that this storm had some fairly intense and close lightning bolts, which kept us on our toes during photo stops.

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