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2014-05-21 REPORTS: CO

Despite the crowds, I had a lot of fun following the HP supercell northeast of Denver today. I arrived at my initial target of Bennett, CO just before noon. As several storms fired over the front range, I moved slightly west to the Watkins exit off of I-70 and waited a bit. As the southernmost and strongest cell became SVR-warned to the west of Aurora, I headed east on U.S. 36 for about a mile, north on Imboden Road, and then, as the storm went TOR-warned, west on E. 56th Street. This took me just south of Denver International Airport, and I had a great view of the storm as it came toward me from the southwest:

Ndm8Bzx.jpg


A bit later several chasers reported a rain-wrapped, multivortex tornado with the storm, which I didn't see. I then retraced my steps and turned east on U.S. 36. I drove through Bennett and headed north on CO-79. After a few miles, I pulled off and took the following shots. The first shows the storm's precip core and looks SW. The second and third, which I shot a few minutes later, shows some of the storm's structure and looks NW and W.

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The storm's hook passed directly over the KFTG radar site, and then briefly weakened before cycling. By this point I had headed with the horde further east on U.S. 36 past Byers, CO, and I decided to probe a bit north on Country Rd 52, a pretty good gravel road. I saw a lot of rotation here off to my west, and the storm became TOR-warned once again. It quickly lost much of its punch, though. I kept an eye on it as I continued east on U.S. 36, eventually passing through Last Chance. By this point the storm was beginning to interact with a line of sub-severe storms along the instability axis to the southeast, and that was it.

I continued east on U.S. 36 to Cope, CO, turned south on CO-59, ran into some small hail, and then headed east on I-70. As I drove toward Burlington, I ended up on the backside of a weakening cell that had been SVR-warned. Its precipitation shield helped to produce a great double-rainbow near Bethune. This looks east from the eastbound lanes of I-70:

QjJGbPo.jpg


A quick word about the crowds: I was honestly surprised by the number of chasers on this storm; there seemed in particular to be several new tour groups on this storm that I didn't recognize. But nearly everyone I saw appeared to be driving carefully, and it was possible, with a bit of patience, to pull off and then merge back into the long, long line of eastbound chasers on U.S. 36.
 
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I got some time off work and was able to meet up with Marcus Diaz, his girlfriend and James Siler. I waited in Bennett, CO for them to arrive, and watched a nice flat topped anvil going up to my west. Once they arrived we latched onto that storm, and stuck with it till it turned into a big MCS rain mess. 9 tornadoes were reported today in Colorado, but we apparently weren't in the right position to see any of them. Storms were extremely HP and it was difficult to make anything out. Still some nice structure and definition. Saw the OU radar truck, also several DOWS, and as mentioned a ton of chaser convergence.

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called the chase and headed for some food, then off to Goodland. Round 2 tomorrow in relatively the same area.
 
Forecasting was relatively easy as there was one main target, the Denver metropolitan area.
We left Kimball, Nebraska early since the storms were forecast to fire in the early afternoon. In a large chase caravan including Dave Lewison and Scott Mcpartland in one car, Stephan Barabas in another car, Mark Robinson, Jaclyn Whittal and Michel from The Weather Network. We later met up with Robert Balogh and John Mann. We reached Fort Morgan for lunch and then our initial target town of Bennett, Colorado. Storms were already forming and moving toward Denver. We were leery of chasing a storm across a congested metro area. One storm was about to hit downtown Denver while another was just to the southwest of that storm. Initially, the storm to the southwest was the more dominant one. We decided to head southwest toward that storm at 1:18 PM MDT by circling the Denver version of the beltway. We got onto the toll road and headed southwest. Our storm started to die and become engulfed by the now larger storm barreling toward downtown Denver. After a brief delay navigating an office park amid the suburban sprawl, we turned around and headed back northeast. We barely escaped getting overtaken by the core as we turned east on I-70. The storm was rotating and there were reports of a wall cloud near the airport. We couldn’t see anything as the mesocyclone was wrapped in rain. We were not willing to get into the notch. We followed the storm eastward, occasionally stopping at towns and driving a bit north to view the storm. We never saw any of the reported tornadoes especially near the airport since. When I-70 turned southeast, we continued eastward on 36 to the town of Last Chance. The chaser crowds were unusually large since this was the only east road with a decent view of the storm. The HP supercell never did anything else significant. We called off the chase and headed to Limon, Colorado for dinner and hotel.
Images

HP supercell is approaching. View from Manila Rd exit at 2:27 PM MDT
http://www.harkphoto.com/052114approachingstormIMG_0884.jpg

Watching the storm
http://www.harkphoto.com/052114watchingthestormDSC_7329.jpg


Chaser traffic
http://www.harkphoto.com/052114chasertrafficDSC_7342.jpg

Abandoned farmhouse near Last Chance
http://www.harkphoto.com/052114farmhouseIMG_0918.jpg

The road to Limon Colorado
http://www.harkphoto.com/052114roadtolimonIMG_0921.jpg

Bill Hark
 
Here are my shots of that rotating cloud... Question for the group: Is that a wall cloud or just a scud cloud? Was thinking the latter... Regardless, it was a fun day!

image.jpg
 
Think there was still inflow at that area... looked at the grass in my pics to help confirm. Michael Snyder (from earlier reply above) may also recall the winds at that time.

Bigger pic:

10357684_10203060977938872_7823190467929874440_o.jpg
 
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I waited at a rest stop near Deer Trail for the storms to come off the mountains and see how things would develop. When the dominant storm became clear I waited for it at Bennet, I didn't want to deal with the urban areas near Denver. The roads were very kind and I was able to spend most of my chase in the notch or just east of it, and I got maybe three or four drops of rain on my windshield from this storm, plus the chaser convergence wasn't too bad here as opposed to south of the storm. Too bad the meso was almost constantly rain wrapped, but I did capture a couple of attempts of the storm to get something going. The GoPro footage worked out great as the storm and I played cat and mouse.





GoPro footage

 
Left work in Centennial, CO. at about 1:30PM. The main storm of the day was already underway over Denver metro. Headed up E-470 East/Northbound to I-70 and was able to slip by the storm and drop into decent viewing position near Bennett. Grabbed US36 from Byers to get some margin to view the structure as the storm approached and put up with the massive chaser traffic for a bit to watch the storm. It continued to grind along with minor rotation until it crashed into the squall line coming north and lost the little bit of rotation it had.
10255567_913610760758_189191183926239752_o.jpg

Near Byers. Full res: https://www.flickr.com/photos/101464524@N06/14245882342/in/photostream/

1548148_913610371538_1712722701673945456_o.jpg

North of Deer Trail. Full Res: https://www.flickr.com/photos/101464524@N06/14244779151/in/photostream/
 
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FC2contrast.jpg

I took this photo just about 2005Z time, when the first Tornado was reported.

Do you guys think, this was the weak tornado? I have yet to see any pictures of the tornadoes 5/21/14, but this was definitely at least a Funnel Cloud in the wall cloud of the supercell.
I was located on Tower road in Aurora at the time. Its a shame I could not see the ground since the building blocked my view.

I played with the contrast a tad just to highlight the funnel since it was becoming rain wrapped.
 
View attachment 8459

I took this photo just about 2005Z time, when the first Tornado was reported.

Do you guys think, this was the weak tornado? I have yet to see any pictures of the tornadoes 5/21/14, but this was definitely at least a Funnel Cloud in the wall cloud of the supercell.
I was located on Tower road in Aurora at the time. Its a shame I could not see the ground since the building blocked my view.

I played with the contrast a tad just to highlight the funnel since it was becoming rain wrapped.

It could be. There were a few times I saw funnel-like formations but nothing very defined. This photo was taken from the south as the area of rotation was approaching Airport Blvd and on the leading edge what looked like a funnel was present for a couple minutes.
5-21.jpg
 
Like gazillions of the rest of you, I was on the big HP supercell that formed over Denver. Tracked it from just east of Aurora until it lined out near Last Chance. I will get a full report up in the next few days as time permits, but in the meantime here are a few pictures and a question.

The first pic shows the rain-wrapped circulation that produced the tornado near DIA around 2:30. I was a little too far south to see the tornado through the rain, because I initially positioned for the cell that formed in the southwest suburbs.

chase52114-1.jpg


The next two pictures are of a large rotating wall cloud near Watkins around 2:45. In the first picture, the feature was just north of Watkins:

vidcap52114-Watkins-1.jpg


When I took this one the storm and I had both moved a little east. The rotation was northeast of Watkins now.

vidcap52114-Watkins-2.jpg


Here's my question. A tornado was reported near Watkins at 2:45 by a county official. I am wondering if any of you saw anything that could confirm that. I sure thought there could have been something back in there, but there was just enough rain wrapping around near the ground that I could not tell and still can't after looking at the video (which will be posted and linked when I get my final report up).

Very interesting day and unusual to see an HP supercell like that in Colorado. Crazy chaser traffic on route 36, though; worst I've ever seen and probably the worst that has ever happened in Colorado.
 
Started out North of Bennett, Co. The storm was several miles to our SE, and really looked lively and ready to produce. We watched it cycle and prayed the rain would stay away from the major updraft, which seemed to be hopping around, trying to establish itself somewhere solid.

Saw what may have been a small wedge from a distance, but it was difficult to discern rotation.

DSC_0009R.jpg

Overall, a decent day. Worth the drive from Iowa.
 
Same storm as everyone else, I jumped on it quickly after it got through Denver and watched it just east of DIA. I didn't see any tornadoes although it certainly looked capable. Ran into Stan Rose and met a few other chasers and had a good time on this slow moving storm.

Just east of DIA:
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Near Watkins:
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And some cool clouds and landscape:
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I started out from home and ended up in Last Chance. These were three of the photos I took during the chase. That circular feature in the rear of the supercell was interesting to see, in that it was so symmetric in its shape. Most of these were taken east of Bennett if my memory serves me correctly. I hate to admit it but I recently took some photos and changed the size to 2MP so they weren't so big. I forgot to change this back to 12MP before the chase and ended up with these 2MP beauties.

IMGP0433_zps518ea7bf.jpg~original


42863e99-c9c8-455e-b926-a0071b1f9a3d_zps31eb53ad.jpg~original


IMGP0442_zps9a9bed91-1.jpg~original
 
I was also on this one. My pictures are pretty much the same as everyone else's. I'd spent the night before in Limon, and got after the storm as it emerged from civilization. We all had the same idea that day. This was a definitive chase for me in that I didn't go running after the storm like crazy as soon as initiation happened. I waited on it to get away from populated areas, and behave more like a supercell; and made a choice to intercept at expected maturity. I will do this from now on. It was much more calm, controlled, and calculated. Results were good. Once it went REALLY HP, I had to escape east on the same road as the DOW people, and that's when things got a bit crowded for my taste. Everyone was stopping near the DOWs to see what they were looking at. I've been in that mess before, so I opted to call it a day and escape south.

The highlight of the day was the SUV that passed with the passenger poking out the top and blasting a vuvuzela as they went by. Laughed my ass off. He is truly a champion among men.
 
Here's my question. A tornado was reported near Watkins at 2:45 by a county official. I am wondering if any of you saw anything that could confirm that. I sure thought there could have been something back in there, but there was just enough rain wrapping around near the ground that I could not tell and still can't after looking at the video (which will be posted and linked when I get my final report up).

Very interesting day and unusual to see an HP supercell like that in Colorado. Crazy chaser traffic on route 36, though; worst I've ever seen and probably the worst that has ever happened in Colorado.

i dont want to speak for anyone but I thought i saw Verne Carlson was on that storm and had definitive tornado pic on facebook, with dust/debris in the field below the funnel. I also saw other confirmations from fb on cbs 4 denver 9 denver news fb like pages of the watkins storm producing a tornado

also ive seen worse chaser convergence, last year in Moore and a few days earlier on the Brownell, KS storm as it tracked north and east towards Hayes, KS.

the thing im curious is there were reportedly 9 tornado touchdowns, however only the watkins one appears to have any credibility.

http://www.denverpost.com/weatherne...t-range-storm-lacked-actual-tornadoes-experts

I have to question the rain-wrapped multi-vortex tornado report because typically Denver are storms dont produce strong tornadoes let alone multi-vortex. the last notable strong tornado in the area was the May 22, 2008 Windsor tornado.
 
Verne's was the one near Byers, which I missed as I was battling the chaser traffic on 36 at the time. I have seen video of the one near DIA, no doubt that was legit so there were at least 2. But I've seen no confirmation on Watkins. Edit: Since I made this post, I did find some video from Channel 7 in Denver showing what they said was dust being lifted under the wall cloud near Watkins, so maybe. Pretty jumpy video though, so still a little hard to tell for sure.
 
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This was my first time chasing the DCVZ and I enjoyed it. The convergence was actually pretty orderly. These are from both days.


kTNMlTU.jpg
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Like gazillions of the rest of you, I was on the big HP supercell that formed over Denver. Tracked it from just east of Aurora until it lined out near Last Chance. I will get a full report up in the next few days as time permits, but in the meantime here are a few pictures and a question.

The first pic shows the rain-wrapped circulation that produced the tornado near DIA around 2:30. I was a little too far south to see the tornado through the rain, because I initially positioned for the cell that formed in the southwest suburbs.

chase52114-1.jpg


The next two pictures are of a large rotating wall cloud near Watkins around 2:45. In the first picture, the feature was just north of Watkins:

vidcap52114-Watkins-1.jpg


When I took this one the storm and I had both moved a little east. The rotation was northeast of Watkins now.

vidcap52114-Watkins-2.jpg


Here's my question. A tornado was reported near Watkins at 2:45 by a county official. I am wondering if any of you saw anything that could confirm that. I sure thought there could have been something back in there, but there was just enough rain wrapping around near the ground that I could not tell and still can't after looking at the video (which will be posted and linked when I get my final report up).

Very interesting day and unusual to see an HP supercell like that in Colorado. Crazy chaser traffic on route 36, though; worst I've ever seen and probably the worst that has ever happened in Colorado.

fc (1).jpg

I had to really mess with the contrast to get the meger funnel to show up, but yea this was right around 2:45pm...
 
Verne's was the one near Byers, which I missed as I was battling the chaser traffic on 36 at the time. I have seen video of the one near DIA, no doubt that was legit so there were at least 2. But I've seen no confirmation on Watkins. Edit: Since I made this post, I did find some video from Channel 7 in Denver showing what they said was dust being lifted under the wall cloud near Watkins, so maybe. Pretty jumpy video though, so still a little hard to tell for sure.

you are correct. my mistake.
 
I have some more work to do with processing imagery of this trip, but for now the video and a few images are up on my Youtube/Facebook accounts:

Video from May 21-22:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf7ZxJuQWoY

Chaser convergence timelapse on May 21 near Byers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xmx7k_l5XNI

Some temporary images posted:
https://www.facebook.com/stormhighwaycom

GPS track:
http://stormhighway.com/2014/may20-23.php



Chase Account: After overnighting in Salina, I arrived on the Denver storm of the day as it was moving out of Aurora. I watched it approach along 25th, then parked 1m south of 26th and 88th just east of DIA, just northeast of the approaching notch to try and get a glimpse of what might be lurking inside. I got a very low-contrast and questionable look what may have been the reported tornado. Until I can get some detailed locations and times, I'm not inclined to 'count' it just yet.

I left this location about 30 seconds too late, as the hail core northeast of the meso gave me a glancing blow - and two spider cracks in the windshield - as I moved east on 88th.

The storm appeared to cycle again northwest of Byers with a strong RFD cut slicing 3/4 of the way around a conical-shaped wall cloud, but motion in this feature was rather weak.

The storm again cycled northeast of Byers with surging RFD, but I was forced south to US 36 and out of optimal position in order to access what appeared to be the only bridge across a north-south creek. Once pulling onto 36 eastbound, I hit massive chaser convergence, with a long slow-moving line of traffic and dozens if not 100 vehicles parked along the road (see the timelapse linked above). For this reason I opted to continue far ahead of the storm to re-position on gravel roads and thus avoid the crowds. The storm unfortunately began merging with cells to the south at this point, ending the chase. I headed back to Aurora to spend the night.
 
Same storm as everyone else. Not much to add other than, DANG, did the HRRR nail this one in terms of timing, placement, and death of the big HP supercell. HRRR has been on fire lately. Approaching from the south, we were initially about 10 minutes late getting into Denver and had to divert off the interstate as the storm moved through the metro. Finally got out in front of it as it barreled down I-70. Beautiful chase country and some really excellent timelapse opportunities, even if we couldn't ever see any of the reported tornadoes. Also had a David Hoadley sighting on a dirt road north of Byers, but I was too shy to go up and say hello :) All in all, an incredibly fun chase!

Watch video >
 
Sorry for the delay, I was lazy on video processing this week. Now that a new system and many days are on the way, I had to clear out the SD cards and process last week's adventures.

Most everyone knows or has read the whole setup with the Denver Cyclone and the HRRR nailing yet another cell. So, to make it short, my video is a timelapse of my personal best views of the storm(and a few chaser convergence points). Most of the sections are 16x timelapse, but a couple segments are 20x. The footage starts near Watkins,CO and follows the cell off and on for about 3 hours.

Watch video >
 
Jennifer Brindley Ubl and I stayed up in the inflow notch north of the Denver airport and then cut north through the forward flanking precipitation as the storm was engulfed in an MCS before coming back down to rescue Brad Goddard who had gotten stuck in the mud. Photogenic HP supercell but we didn't observe anything tornadic from our position. Full log, photos, stats, and annotated map:

http://skip.cc/chase/140521/

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