Limon, Colorado Supercell: May 29, 2007
chase images and log by William T. Hark, M.D.
I really had hoped for some tornadic storms in western Kansas and eastern Colorado. I started the day in North Sioux City, South Dakota after busting the previous day in northeastern North Dakota. With an approaching cold front and upper level trough along with decent moisture and backed surface winds, severe storms were likely. There was the possibility of tornadoes before storms would transition to a linear mode and also be over taken by the front. I headed south on I-29, then west on I-80 through Nebraska. With the exception of the Omaha area, progress was fast due to little traffic and 75 mph speed limits. I turned south on 283 and reached Oakley, Kansas by mid afternoon. There is a nice gas station with fast wi-fi at the 83 and I-70 intersection. A tornado watch was already issued to my northwest and I expected one to be soon issued for western Kansas/eastern Colorado. I had originally targeted just west of Garden City but now doubted initiation. The better combination of parameters was further to the west. There were already storms firing toward Denver in a line, and I expected further development ahead of that line. I was worried the front would overtake the storms. I talked with Jim Leonard who was to the south and Jason Persoff who was to my west and got some observations. I didn't like the appearance of the cumulus field in my area. I finally decided to head west on I-70, then a bit south. The line of storms (now a MCS) near Denver continued to move slowly east and some of the storms were a bit more isolated. These had the best potential for tornadic development. I hurried west toward Limon, Colorado. The most isolated storm was near Limon, and Jason was already observing some mid level rotation. The storm was tornado-warned. I blasted west at 80 mph. As I reached the Limon area, I could see a massive storm (1V) approaching the town. Unfortunately, I was being hit with cold outflow winds. Despite continued tornado warnings, this clearly would not produce. I pulled off the interstate at 4:35 MDT just east of Limon (Genoa exit 371) and filmed the storm (pic #1 2P),(pic #2 3P). I had an easy escape route east from the slow moving storm. I experienced winds gusting to almost 70 mph, huge clouds of blowing dust, and small hail (4V). Visibility (5V) was poor. Tumbleweeds flew through the air with blowing dust. (6V) This dust (7V) blew ahead of the storm on cool outflow winds. I left toward the east before the hail became too big. I could see the storm (8V) to the west at 5:25 MDT. I dropped south reaching Kit Carson by 6:00 MDT ahead of the storm (now merged into a large MCS) hoping to find more isolated development. I was still in cold northerly winds. The chase was over. I eventually arrived in Lamar, Colorado just as the town was hit with a dust storm. It was fun watching cows and people run as the billowing swirling dust hit the town. I uploaded some video from my car while waiting for the dust storm to end. The day ended at a good Thai restaurant (Thai Spicy Bazil-Asian Grill)
that stays open much later than the other restaurants that close annoyingly early at 9:00 MDT. No tornadoes but a fun chase.
Landscape images in Colorado and Kansas: May 30, 2007
May 30 was a down day for rest since no severe storms were expected. I blew off the slight possibility of storms down in Texas. I slept in and barely made it out of the hotel room by checkout. I then met Drs. Jason Persoff and Robert Balogh for lunch at a local diner in Lamar, Colorado. Robert is also a physician (hospitalist) and is fairly new to chasing. Jason was giving him some pointers. Interestingly, the only known physician storm chasers all have an internal medicine background. The drive to Garden City was relatively short, and I stopped along the way to photograph wild flowers. There was an especially pretty area in Kearny County, Kansas.
Chase possibilities were expected along the Kansas/Oklahoma border the following day especially if there would be enough moisture return. The area winds were currently northerly but were expected to change to southerly overnight and bring moisture into the area. There was still sufficient upper level winds for supercells but the tornado risk was questionable.
P -- D200 image
V -- Video Still
Next Page: May 31, 2007
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