Colorado Storms: May 23, 2005

I started the day in Goodland, Kansas. Severe storms were possible throughout eastern Colorado and choosing a target was difficult. There was better moisture to the south and better upper level winds to the north. I decided to head west on I-70 and check more data as the situation developed. Today, I was going to chase with Jason Persoff, M.D., a physician with the Mayo clinic. He was coming out from Denver to chase. He also picked the last two weeks of May for a storm chase vacation and was waiting out the poor conditions while visiting his parents in Denver.

At 11:30AM, I observed an area of cumulus (2V) to the southwest. This was early, but indicated an area to watch. Otherwise, the sky was clear. After a quick lunch, I continued west as that area exploded. By 12:30PM, the area of clouds had become storms (3V). The storms were high-based and weak but had the potential to develop as they moved eastward into better moisture. I stopped in Limon, Colorado to get fuel and check weather data at a truck stop. Parked at the truckstop was a tractor-trailer with three trailers (1V). Two are fairly common but I've never seen three. Meanwhile, the storms began to consolidate and increase in intensity. I headed southwest on 24. The storm base was lowering and there was a wall cloud. It was now a supercell. I met up with Jason in the town of Calhan. The storm was almost overhead and small hail was falling out of the sky. We were under the vault, not a good area to be if the storm became more intense. Jason and I headed south, then east on 94. The storm was to our north and moving slowly to the southeast. By 2:25PM, we could see a ragged wall cloud (4V) to the east and visible rotation. Jason and I had to hurry east before the hail core reached us. A few soft hail pellets hit us as we were able to get ahead of the storm. There was rotation visible and also being indicated on the Baron MobileThreatnet. At 2:50PM, we ran into Scott Blair and the Weathervine crew. I 've chased with Scott in the past. He loves hail and has built a hail shield to protect his car windows. We stopped briefly to watch the storm (6V). There was impressive rotation but the base was still too high. We followed the storm along some dirt roads hoping the storm would improve. Our trip was briefly delayed as Jason had a flat and had to change the tire. I waited while Scott and the Weathervine crew headed east. Unfortunately, another storm formed to the east of our storm cutting off inflow and killing it. The new storm (5V) was more linear. Meanwhile, newer and more powerful storm were forming north of Interstate 70. We tried to intercept these storms including one with a tornado warning but they became more linear. One storm just north of Burlington did briefly intensify as darkness arrived. We ended the chase at a Pizza Hut in Berlington. Although not the ideal situation and no tornadoes, at least there were some supercells to chase. I uploaded some video to The Weather Channel but it was not used.
(1V) (2V) (3V)


(V -- Video Still. P -- Scanned from slide, Fuji Velvia 100)

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