Day 6 - Turn right four times

09 June 2010

I'm trying to remember where we started... ah that was it, about 42 miles south of the Walmart carpark where we've put ourselves to bed. In between that, we managed to clock up about 600 miles, mostly in circles. See blue squiggles below:

Our journey started in Sterling from the motel we stayed in for a second night running, due to its bargain-ness. We were pretty pleased with ourselves for making the effort the night before to get a large chunk of the driving out of the way to put us in a suitable location for the next day set up. A low mileage chase today. Awesome. So we thought.

We both ritually studied the morning's models independently and chose a starting location, and hey presto, they matched! That must mean something! So we set out on our 100 mile journey to Fort Collins. But on the way, saw those same text book white puffy monsters that we've grown to love rising in the distance more to the west. Every chaser says, always use your eyes over your radar, so we obliged to the rules and headed towards the towering cumulus in the west. We positioned ourselves on a quite road where one of the storm cells was planning to also arrive at. It was a cute little thing and not at all scary really, but at 2 in the afternoon, you don't really expect to see anything particularly menacing, as the ground has not yet reached it's maximum daily temperature and this plays an important factor in the energy available for these storm's creation.

It was a pleasure to watch though and pretty outflow dominant (spitting out lots of rain and hail and cold air - luckily in the distance). Unfortunately a storm can eventually burn itself out behaving like that and this is what it did, but it was nice whilst it lasted.

We then had a chase decision to make. Storms were firing to north east and they were looking big, both to the untrained eye and on the radar. We either could go for them, or stick to our original decision and head back to Fort Collins in the hope that 'something' would happen there a bit later as we'd anticipated. We waited a while, but the lure of the big visible storms on the horizon was too much so we headed another few hundred miles to those. They, however, were on an eastern stormtrack, so add another 50 miles or so to the anticipated journey. As we were driving we had a slight uneasy feeling. The storms we had our eyes on seemed to be losing a bit of power. They were still huge, but weren't growing anymore. As it happened, the region they were entering had very little surface moisture, and storms need moisture to survive. So we made the bold decision to 'ditch them'.

What now? There seemed to be something brewing in Denver (about another 200 miles to our south east). Development into anything substantial wasn't a cert though by any means. There also seemed to be a couple more cells developing once again, not far from the source where they initially stoked up before running out of steam. Now that was only 100 miles away. 100 miles is better than 200, so back we went.

At this point, I think nearly every other chaser we'd been in contact with had hit the motels slightly disappointed at the lack of longitevity from these hyped up storms. But our thinking was, it's still just light and there's still petrol in petrol stations. Lets go get them!

We managed to position ourselves in a perfect place to get the best angle on these new cells. They came to us and we drove to them! It was a mutual acceptanc.e The photo below shows what we saw as we were driving toward them. Dark, oppressive and ominous, and what a lightening display it also put on.

Rather than its core passing over us directly, it tracked slightly to our north, so we ended up looking at the back end of it, resulting in less rain and hail. A good thing. Rain often masks storm definition so the less rain the better.

Timbo got an amazing 'independence day' type photo about an hour after it passed over us.

We kept with for another half hour or so and pulled up at the side of the road to get late night lightening shots. Again, courtesy of the talented Tim.

We called it a night there and drove another 30 miles or so to the nearest big town where we were hoping to rest our tired heads. It has been a long day and we had covered so many miles both on the road and psychologically. We had driven for 13 hours solid, but the little gem at the end made it all worth it.

But as luck would have it there were absolutely no motels available in the whole of the town due to the influx of chasers into the area and checking the radar it appeared we had an 8 mile wide storm system, with rotation in places to our west, on a course due east. Not a night to sleep in the car. Another 50 miles or so south should get us out of harm's way.

So here we are in the safe haven of a Walmart car park once again. A six pack, tomorrows models to look at and a blog to write.

It may not sound like it to a lot of people, but these are happy days!

Night all. (It is currently 03:46am but I'm wireless-less, so will have to load this onto the blog in the morning).

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

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Wed June 2010

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Wed June 2010

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