Friday, June 23, 2006

Day 6 Summary - The Grand Finale

Waking location: Lamar, CO
Sleeping location: Denver, CO
Distance travelled: Your guess is as good as mine
Short summary: Had fun with two LP storms; stared down the gullet of another HP beast

Long summary

What a great day for a chase tour finale. We travelled straight north out of Lamar for the entire day, meeting up with a beautiful, extremely high-based LP storm around 5:30 just north of Scottsbluff. Like every other LP storm we encountered, it ran into dry air and promptly shrivelled up.

We went further north again and intercepted another ridiculously high-based storm just suspended in the air. As we watched from the southeast it developed a very strong RFD cut that nearly killed the storm, but it slowly rebuilt its base. As we travelled north yet again, it became apparent why; looking back on the storm from the northeast, rock-hard updraft towers were boiling up into the atmosphere. It looked rather ridiculous, with these massive updraft towers so high off the ground just slamming into the jet stream and racing westward. That thing didn't quit sucking air for another couple of hours.

As you probably guessed, we again travelled north to meet up with a supercell screaming southwest towards us. We had watched this storm develop on radar over the past hour or two, thinking it out of reach, but it was trucking southward and by the time we reached it, it had developed a massive shelf cloud and was gusting like nobody's business. It was definitely supercellular, with the rain core wrapping fully around the rapidly rotating meso, totally obscuring any chance of possibly seeing a tornado, had it been able to produce one. This storm then gusted out and proceded to race with us back southward.

The motion along the leading edge of this storm was unlike anything I've ever seen. The gust front was churning and scouring the atmosphere. Little rotating eddies created all kinds of rotating clouds. Standing a few miles in front of the beast, you would feel a warm southeast wind at your back being sucked up into the storm. Then it would be calm, as the storm approaches and the air is literally rising straight up into the monster. Then the cold outflow wind hits your face and kicks up dust. That's your cue to get out of the way.

What an experience. We're on the way back to Denver tonight, and I fly home tomorrow. Thanks to Roger, Dave, Steve, and everyone at Silver Lining Tours for an amazing week. Given the conditions and 2006's dreadful reputation, I could not have asked for anything more. The best of luck to everyone in the high plains tour next week; it looks like a Death Ridge is approaching that might send you packing to Canada looking for storms.


I have lots of good photos. These are coming soon.

Final Final Thoughts
  • Final tally: we saw 10 Wal-Marts and 18 Pizza Huts (all data are considered preliminary).
  • I don't want to go home!
  • I think I may puke if I have to ever eat fast food again.
  • Watch for a "Best Of" post with all the best photos post-processed for your enjoyment.
  • Time to start getting ready for the 2007 chase season.

1 comment:

Alex G said...

Hi Rockwell,

I had to comment on this. First off, the pizza hut/wal-mart count is correct. Second, reading Roger's website, it turns out that that last storm we saw DID produce a couple of tornadoes, and one can even be seen in one of his pictures. I don't know how we missed it.

Lou Bega rules,