06/03/04 REPORTS: CO, SD, NE, NM

Larry J. Kosch

Looks like the storm situation in CO is blowing itself out before it even has a chance to get out of state. Post your first-hand chase reports here. 8) LJK.
Sitting in Limon right now at the truck stop on I-70/Hwy. 24. Today wasn't anything too spectacular, but a fun evening none-the-less. I made a long trip to get where I am right now..

Started around noon, leaving my place in Morrison and headed for an impressive looking storm that was skirting the southern parts of Denver. That storm drifted southeast and I stopped in Elizabeth to check over things. Between radar analysis and visual clues, I elected to head north to my original target in Hudson (Northeast of Denver on I-76). My plan was to arrive there by 1, but ended up there at 3 (no biggie). I ended up shooting east on Hwy 52, catching it back onto I-76 so I could make my way around some developing storms to my east/northeast. I hauled up I-76 into Sterling where I watched the severe warned storms disappate. Figuring my night was over, I grabbed some drink and chatted with a fellow chaser before deciding to head south on Hwy 61. Another storm went up and I fired east from Hwy. 61 on a county road.

The choice of the night; I was eying my Roads of Colorado book and the road I was on would turn to dirt at some point between where I was and Hwy. 59, which was where I was hoping to go. I chanced it, and only 4 miles of dirt lead me to Hwy. 59; I hauled south to intercept another severe warned storm that was now northeast of Anton/southwest of Yuma.

I hit Yuma in time for that warned storm to weaken. Cursing myself for another crappy day of getting to things too late, I decided to take one last shot and continue south out of Yuma as opposed to catching Hwy. 34 back home.

Halfway down Hwy. 59, I began to take notice of a very pronounced lowering in a storm that was well off to my southwest. I began to play what if, and made a choice to head east on Hwy 36 and catch a county road through Kirk and into Stratton instead of taking Hwy. 36 west and dropping south on 59.

TORNADO WARNING! I was honestly shocked; but the lowering I was watching was beginning to hide itself in the rain. I hauled south into Stratton trying to keep myself ahead of a core which was rumored to have golf-ball sized hail. I watched some intense lightning light up the now nighttime storm; still showing lowerings and a rather disorganized wall cloud.

I headed into Stratton when NWS Radio stated golf-ball sized hail north of Vona. I quickly took shelter in a gas station as the hail rolled in. They were right, golf-ball sized. I shot some fun video of about a dozen cars huddles beneath the roof of the gas station as the hail clanked away at the aluminum above them. I waited the storm's passage and elected to jump on I-70 and head home.

Now, I stop for a cheap dinner and my less-than-two-hour drive home. Not a bad day overall, but for the 550 plus miles I'll end up logging, I felt a bit jipped. Won't complain, though.. I do love a good hailstorm! :)