Saturday 6 June 2015

Day 10 - Eastern Colorado

FRI 05 JUNE 2015

What a frustrating day! We began in Hays (KS) and had to drive a good 250 miles to get into position in Colorado. Initially our target was Limon (CO), and we arrived in good time around midday, parked up under a sheet of stratus at 500ft with drizzle - thinking it'd be a while before anything developed due to the extensive low cloud and low temperatures (16C with a dewpoint of 15C etc, so very moist). But no sooner had we parked up than a tornado-producing supercell had developed over the Palmer Divide, so we raced northwest towards Strasburg/Bennett (CO) and dipped south to get onto this storm.

It had by this point produced a brief tornado, but just left a rotating wall cloud embedded within this thick stratus. It also felt very cold outside, very odd for storm chasing as usually storms need a good warm, moist inflow to sustain them. The first supercell rapidly died, but another developed to its south so we waited and watched this one develop a rotating wall cloud - but failed to produce. A third supercell develop to the south, so we headed towards this and followed it for a while - but again it failed to produce.
Rotating, low wall cloud of the second storm, south of Bennett (CO)
By this point storms were firing in eastern Colorado to the southeast of Limon (CO) in 27C air, not this cold 16C we were in, so we ditched the first storms and headed southeast after the second batch in what should be a more favourable environment. We refuelled and grabbed a quick bite to eat in Limon (CO), before heading east to chase these storms. It was once again very messy, the circulations on radar were embedded within rain and so it was hard to tell exactly where to head/look. We chased for several hours, saw some rotating wall cloud at times, but it was just too difficult to get close to the circulations to get a better look without being too close.

Three tornadoes were captured by other chasers, who in my opinion probably were too close at times given the very messy setup. The storms began to line out, as usual, so we ditched the line knowing the tornado risk would rapidly decrease, and headed north to a lone storm that had a tornado warning near Eckley (CO). It had a very strong inflow, but at 16C still it failed to produce an actual tornado. We waited a while, and then noticed the road we had parked on was 'County Road Y', or, as the sign abbreviated it to, 'CR Y'. We found it rather amusing given the incredibly frustrating day we had just experienced, driving 643 miles and not seeing very much! Grr. Onwards and upwards I guess... On the flip side, there were plenty of other chasers, including tour groups who do this constantly every year during storm season, who didn't see anything either so in some ways it's reassuring it wasn't just us!
Inadvertently parked next to this sign near Eckley (CO), which happened to state exactly how we felt! Cheeky bit of lightning in the corner too...
05 June 2015 GPS Tracker Route Map
2015 STORM CHASE stats thus far:
McDonald's tally: 11
Applebee's tally: 8
Distance driven: 4,525 miles
States visited: 8

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