Flying the SPC nest

14 June 2014

The risk for today was to a degree split between an earlier risk over north eastern Colorado where storms were forecast to fire off the higher terrain in the wake of a cold front that would pass through leaving the region under low level northerly upslope flow. These storms would then track east into an airmass made more unstable due to greater moisture and daytime heating. A few tornadoes would be possible, especially if they could remain in the vicinity of the front where shear would be greatest.

As the cold front pushed further east later in the day, more storms were expected to break the cap and initiate under a loaded gun profile across eastern parts of Nebraska and northern Kansas before developing into an MCS where the main threats would be extremely large hail and damaging winds. Tornadoes would be possible on any storms that could stay semi-discrete and the area was under a moderate risk warning for severe weather

We however, decided to play out of the moderate and headed to the slight risk regions in Colorado, partly because we love it out there but mainly to place ourselves in the vicinity of where we thought storms may remain discrete for longer.

We headed to Brush in northeast Colorado and waited out the early afternoon hours. By 5pm there was still very little activity anywhere. A few cells had gone up over Denver and were tracking north-northeast but with very little gusto. A few became severe warned but couldn’t hold onto this level of severity for particularly long and didn’t tempt us out of our position. The one cell that finally did was east of Denver and we headed further southeast to intercept it as it entered a region of better CAPE within the US76 / I70 corridor.

We had to risk taking a number of farm roads to get a good position. No sooner had we got into position, it became tornado warned. Unfortunately however, it never got further than developing a few funnels and it wasn’t long before we had to leave to avoid being caught out in the rain on the farm roads. Apparently a tornado was reported about this time, 8 miles to the northwest of our location, but we surely would have seen it?! But there were, once again, numerous gustnados and ground level circulations with swirling dust that have caught us out before so who knows but I think the mistake is easy to make.




Once back out on the main road, we could easily track east with the storm which although remaining fairly discrete was not the most organised. It was showing some supercell structure and at one point developed a huge wall cloud that we could see in our rear view mirror but unfortunately the intense outflow was now creating a dust storm and obscuring any interesting features. So, we spent the next few hours out on the I70 ahead of the big dusty low contrasted wall of light grey cloud! Even though we were doing 70mph we were struggling to keep ahead of the outflow winds. Tumbleweeds were hurtling across the road and either side of the interstate was just a mass of swirling dust.

We tracked in front of it into Kansas but by the time we got to Oakley, we decided to call it a night, find a motel and let it pass overhead, which it did in no trivial manner. We had all of about 20 seconds to get stuff out of the car and into our room before the dust and wind hit us hard. Trees were swaying and the power flickered on and off for a few minutes before it went totally black. In the darkness we could see the rain being swept up off the road and swirled up into the air.

Then, a police car with sirens blaring raced off down the street in the direction we’d come. As it turned out, reported 80mph winds in the wake of this storm had blown out the windows, blown over a semi and uprooted a number of trees at the motel that out of a choice of 2, we hadn’t opted to stay at. Some may see this as lucky. It would have been fun though!

SPC Day 1 Weather Outlook as at 06:00UTC (01:00 Central Time the night before)

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Sat June 2014

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Sat June 2014

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