Follow by Email

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

June 19, 2018 Prospect Valley, CO tornado

Hi everyone!  In case you can't tell, I am just a tad bit behind on my blog updates.  My goal is to get this updated before my storm chasing trip this summer. Yes, storm chasing is still going as planned, despite this pesky virus.  A lot has happened since the last time we met.  My wife and I bought a house last April, she gave birth to our second daughter July 2019, and I am in my final semester in my masters program.  I am scheduled to go chasing this year from July 5 - July 11, and I am looking forward to it!  Unfortunately, this virus has caused a lot of guests to be unable to chase this year, whether it is out of fear or because their respective countries have closed all travel.  Ok, enough of this rambling.  Let's get to the fun stuff!!

June 19, 2018

Let's do a very brief review up to this point. This was my second tour this summer, and this was a private tour led by Martin Lisius, President and CEO of Tempest Tours.  This tour had 2 Chinese pop stars and their entourage.  In all, we had 3 vans running with 5 staff and around 22 guests.  Talk about a logistical nightmare!  Thanks to the efforts of Kim George, HR director, the tour ran smoothly with very few hiccups.  I was given permission to use the write-up from Dr. Bob Conzemius.  He was acting as a driver/assistant tour director during this tour.

Longmont, CO; note the bowl-shaped lowering

Our last chase day of the tour proved to be the grand finale as Mother Nature really put on a show for us. We began at Fort Morgan, where the morning brought us a warm, humid airmass with that hazy look with meaty cumulus clouds that makes you feel it will be a good day of chasing.  Thinking storms would develop earlier today, we hurried south and got to Limon where we ate lunch at an assortment of fast food restaurants (mostly Taco Bell).

Once again, the first storms did not fire over the Palmer Divide, and when we finished lunch, we already had supercells from the Colorado/Wyoming border near Cheyenne, to Greeley, Longmont, and southwest of Denver.  The cell near Longmont looked the best.

We drove back to Byers then north on county roads to get a view of the bases of the Denver and Longmont storms. It was immediately clear that the northern storm had the most interesting base. The base was lowered, and it had a bowl-shaped look.  That appearance was occasionally altered by RFDs punching through it. Nevertheless, we debated which storm to chase until we heard Bill Reid on the radio stating that they were headed to the northern storm.  Our decision was made.

Prospect Valley, CO; fat stovepipe

We continued north and encountered some road construction that made us worry that we were going to get stuck.  Gladly, we did not, and we continued north as the storm produced another RFD surge, and soon Bill Reid came over the radio to report a tornado (the were a few miles closer than we were).  I looked ahead and could see what he was talking about. The tornado became more well defined as a narrow condensation funnel lowered to the visible horizon.  We found a place to pull over and view it.  We were behind a bit of a hill, so we could not see the dust swirling at the ground, but we still had a nice view.

Very photogenic

Once this tornado roped out, we observed the storm for a few more minutes but then noticed it was being cut off by new storms developing to our east.  At this point, it became clear that we needed to jump back on the southern cell we had been considering earlier.

Roping out

Soon, this second storm was tornado-warned.  We got back to Deer Trail and drove southeast for a bit on I-70 and then exited for about 20 minutes of good storm viewing.  The lighting on the wall cloud of the storm was fantastic, but our inflow was becoming a bit cooler. Temperature-dewpoint spreads in the air immediately to our south were also larger, and cloud bases were not as low as they had been with our first storm.

Structure with roping out

We made a couple more stops at I-70 exits to observe the storm.  Our inflow became cooler with time, and winds were more northeasterly rather than easterly like they had been at our first I-70 exit.  Soon, we were hit by a gust of some pretty cold air, and the outflow was definitely upon us. We made one more stand at Arriba then hopped back on I-70 and dropped south at Seibert.

Chinese crew admiring the storm; note the RFD cut

There were not a lot of road options, so had to go all the way to Kit Carson before coming back northwest toward our line of storms.  By then, all the trailing storms had become non-severe. We stopped on the way back to Limon and did some photography of the sun setting under thunderstorms.  We were also treated to a nice lightning show.

From there, we continued to Limon, where we ate a steak dinner at Oscar's Bar & Grille. Rooms were pretty booked in Limon, so we drove to Castle Rock to spend the night.

Deer Trail, CO
Our total mileage for this day, according to Dr. Bob's GPS, was 462 miles.  This was a fantastic way to end the tour and my two weeks of chasing in the Plains!!
Limon, CO

No comments:

Post a Comment