It is so important to note that we had three mesoscale meteorology experts in the van who are meteorologists with several degrees and who are extremely experienced storm chasers. We also had GPS, iphones, wireless, and a laptop with GRlevel3 radar products that give us better resolution and the ability to see rotation, something that is extremely difficult using radar you find on a webpage or a run of the mill app. We also had contact with other trusted forecasters if needed. We also had me as a backup navigator and generally cautious backseat driver/forecaster. I am not a mesoscale specialist, even though I have a BS, MS, and PhD in meteorology. I would never go storm chasing without these experts in the car with me!!! Do not try this at home, kids! Finally, we had nine students with us, the majority of whom have attended spotter training and are somewhere along the way in their meteorology degree at MSU Denver. Our degree fulfills the NWS and AMS requirements and is one of the only programs around that does so. These guys have taken more computer science, physics, calculus, chemistry, and meteorology courses than you can imagine! Our students and I are out storm chasing with these experts so we can learn from them, and, in doing so, train the next generation of meteorologists who will be issuing the warnings or telling you about them on TV. Without seeing these things up close and personal it is so difficult to understand the unique structure of severe thunderstorms.
All photos are mine (yay iphone) unless otherwise noted.
Monday, May 19, 2014
We left early for Ogallala, Nebraska. We got there and discovered blue skies and a huge lack of action. We stopped at Lake McConaughy for a few hours to stretch our legs, wiggle our toes in the water, and hang out while we waited for convection to start.
|Photo by Alex Trellinger|
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
We woke up in Ogallala and guess what the Holiday Inn Express had for breakfast? A gluten free bagel option! I was in heaven!!! Usually my travel food consists of french fries, bad salads, and hamburgers with no bun. The bagel was a real treat. We had a weather briefing before heading west to Wyoming to check out a few cells there.
|Turns out it's pretty up there!|
|This cow was really into us.|
We left the storm before getting precipitated on, and it was eventually tornado warned. We kept in front of it through Scottsbluff, NE.
|Close, but no cigar.|
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
We woke up in Ogallala and got word that we needed to head southwest quickly. We were out the door by 9:30 after another gluten free bagel. Score! We headed towards Denver, stopping for a while along the way for Burger King and waiting for things to kick off. Suddenly we were in the perfect position to intercept a tornado warned storm in east Denver. We saw the storm in the distance, but couldn't make out any obvious tornado the entire time, despite what you might think you see in the photos below. This storm had several tornado reports come off of it, but I'm not sure any of them are confirmed, although several mention it being rain wrapped or "on the ground for at least five minutes." It is so important that storm reports be accurate. I hope they were.
|Flying eagle radar signature!|
I bought these shoes the weekend before at the REI sale. We had a little, um, run in with some quick-sand-type-mud. Yes, that's my technical term for it! While we were in Nebraska, this area got a bunch of rain, so we didn't realize how squishy the ground was! It was a big oops and I was happy I had another pair of shoes along!
|DOWs and a traffic jam|
On our way back, we hopped on twitter and noticed a few hail photos. Then we looked northwest, and sure enough, it looked like it had snowed, but it was hail! (Not that snow hadn't happened in the recent past, as we had a mother's day storm this year.)
Thursday, May 22, 2014
We met at the Walmart east of town the next morning and got in the van to do a local day chase. We hopped on a storm that did not look ideal. We didn't have a ton of hope for the day anyway, but thought we would give it a shot.
|Having some fun in Watkins (Bennet?)|
Friday, May 23, 2014
We didn't storm chase on Friday, but boy did the storm come to me! Just as I was leaving work around 6:00 we got pea sized hail and extremely heavy rain. The streets and sidewalks were rivers! I waited a bit, then finally rolled up my pants, broke out my umbrella (not a lot of lightning), and ran for Union Station.
|Cherry Creek Friday at 6pm.|
Loveland flooded Friday night from these big rains. Some places reported 5"!
Saturday Denver got yet another tornado warning, this time west of town. The storm packed a punch with rainfall and hail that made its way towards Boulder as it died down. The whole front range is in a flood watch while the mountains get more snow. It was one heck of a week, but still no visible tornadoes for me! Next week will bring more opportunities, we hope.