Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cloud to Ground Mania

This last week of storms in the Denver Metro area have been quite impressive due to the annual monsoon moisture invading Colorado. Tornado sirens sounding in Commerce City with no tornado warnings, street flooding and downed tree limbs in Arvada and numerous severe thunderstorm warnings over the many of days. Today seemed to be no exception from the morning forecasts, however it appeared that today's main threat would be flooding and heaving rain as opposed to thunderstorms. Well such was not the case; heavy rain was non existent and a nice cell popped to the south of Denver around 9:30 pm. I was alerted of the Armageddon of lightning by facebook posts and roommate Justin Davis, as well as scared Sydney! As fast as I was frantically running around deciding if it was worth taking the dirty sensor, one bar of life camera out to capture shots, it was in tote and Levin Engelhardt was fast behind the wheel as we blazed after one of the most amazing lightning storms I have ever seen! These were some of the better shots I got before the storm took us over!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thurman, Colorado Tornado

Finally, a chase day was upon us in our backyard of eastern Colorado. I joined Michael Carlson, brother Eric Carlson and Kendell LaRoche, with target of Seibert, Colorado in our cross hairs to kick off my 4th year of chasing. SPC had a see text out for the area which would mean a great day if we were able to get a tornado out of the setup.

Our initial target was Seibert, Colorado. Models showed initiation around 3 or 4 pm with the upper energy coming through. On our drive to eastern Colorado we were lucky to say the least, if we saw one lonely cumulus cloud and we all tried to make a Cu field out of it; the overwhelming view Mother Nature gave us was a stratus-deck.

After the waiting game, a very long game in Seibert we continued to Burlington, Colorado. Soon there after we played the hurry up and wait game near Kit Carson, where we met up with other local chasers: Tony Laubach and Jon Van de Grift. After a couple of hours of throwing rocks and waiting thinking it was a bust, Michael noticed a actual Cu field to the west and we drove after it to investigate.

The whole day the majority of the dynamics were in place. We had a 30 kt lower level jet all day, with good up slope direction, dew points were plenty for Colorado in the low 50s, temperatures were good with some clearing in the late afternoon and we had near 500 Joules of Cape in the area. Once the upper level energy pushed though finally we got a storm forming to the north of our location and we got a land spout tornado in a see text day!

The fun was not over after the tornado. We headed further south were we witnessed large cloud to ground lighnting strikes. As we got closer to where to strike hit we noticed it started a large grass fire about 100 yards from a resident. Emergency crews came quickly after we called 911 and it appeared they put the fire out before any damge was done to the residents property. The day ended with a fantastic sun set and a full moon back droped with lightning.

The first shot of the tornado near Thurman, Colorado. The tornado is on the left center of the image. The condensation funnel was starting to show up nicely. Driving 60 mph the shot didn't come out to bad.

The condensation funnel grew more pronounced as we followed the storm.
There was damage reported with the tornado of downed power lines, a torn up fence as well as a damaged roof.
These stroms produced lagre CG (cloud to ground) lightning strokes. One of them caused this fire 100 yards from a home.
A car leaving the fire as it comes extremely close to the home.
A beautiful sunset was a great closing to a great storm chase.