Friday, April 17, 2009

2009 Storm Chase V Brief - April 16th

Well ... so the saying goes: you win some, you lose some. So far this year, each of my four chases had ended quite well. Each one was special and exciting in its own way. This one, on the other hand, we're going to officially label a "bust".

I wasn't able to head out on the chase until work ended at 3PM, so needless to say I was a bit restless. I was excited to take my rig out for its first chase of the year, having carpooled with others up until now. The night before, I cleaned the inside out as well as I could (making sure the interior sides of the windows were spotless). I also installed some nice new windshield wipers.

At 3PM, I hit the road and got stuck in some traffic on I-225 (which was insanely annoying). The skies over Denver had been shrouded with drizzle all day long and I was looking forward to punching through into some sunshine. (the new wipers worked fantastic, by the way)

I picked up Adam Childers, new to Colorado, to bring him out on his first storm chase and we hit the road. Little did we know it, but the initial half hour of the drive would probably be counted as the best "storms" of the chase.

The visibility increased and soon the drizzle became larger drops. We passed through a couple brief showers and saw a lot of scud as the tiny cells with very low LCLs raced north-northwest. On a couple of occasions, we saw brief rotation in the clouds.

We caught up with Cameron and Scott and began to caravan along with them. Cameron pointed out some rotating scud ... and in hindsight, we should have stopped and filmed the crap out of it because it was the best thing we saw all day! We continued to Limon where we got a bit of data and collectively decided to head southeast on 287. We passed through Kit Carson and suddenly we were in strong easterly flow and FOG. This was not in my forecast. The easterly winds were stronger than forecast and pushed a very cold, stable airmass westward cutting off the area I had targetted. We suddenly found ourselves struggling to get back out of it.

A storm formed south of Lamar that showed some promise, so instead of heading west to the sunshine, we continued south. It turned out that it didn't matter anyway as nothing really happened to the west aside from weak thundershowers.

Our storm to the south died, leaving us almost at US50. We decided to head west and try and get out of the low clouds, but never really made much headway before sunset. Finally out, it was dark and everything calmed down quite a bit.

We stopped in Pueblo and had some dinner at Jorge's Sombrero. The food was actually really good (the much-needed Margarita even more so).

After dinner, we headed back up I-25, home. Did see one flash of lightning as we entered a sleet storm and by the time we reached the summit of Monument Pass, we were driving straight into the snow. It took a while, but I finally made it into Denver.

Earlier, we stopped briefly for no real reason other than to get out of the car. I took pictures of an irrigation ditch. That pretty much sums up the day.


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