A DCVZ (Denver Convergence Vorticity Zone) boundary set up with good southeast winds along and north of the Palmer Divide in east central Colorado. As surface winds wrapped around the north side of the Palmer Divide, a Denver cyclone formed. By mid afternoon cumulus towers formed along the boundary. One such tower developed into an intense thunderstorm and spawned a landspout tornado north of our house. Caryn, doing a local chase, intercepted the storm as a mature landspout was visible from many miles away. It stayed on the ground for several minutes before lifting. The tower cam at Denver International Airport even picked it up clearly!
July 20th featured good shear, excellent moisture and instability, and the Palmer Divide to produce storms with upslope flow. Mid afternoon a supercell formed near Simla, Colorado and turn to the south. As it did, it was rotating very strongly and may have produced a couple of broad, weak tornadoes. The lightning was absolutely insane with the supercell and the hail was quite large, up to softball sized! As the storm moved south, it was interfered with by another supercell and the southern storm became the dominant supercell. It moved southeast and eventually collided with northeast moving storm near LaJunta. Over the next 45 minutes it struggled to maintain any intensity until it finally pushed through all the left moving storms. It became tornado warned near Las Animas and had quite strong rear flank winds along with very large hail. We ended up letting it go as we needed to be back in Denver that evening. A great local chase for our tour group and one of the prettier supercells and lightning shows on the season! Enjoy the pics!!!
July 13th featured a play in eastern Colorado along an old outflow boundary from previous day convection. Storms formed fairly early, by 1pm along this boundary. It didn’t take long for them to become well organized and severe warned. One cell developed an impressive hook on radar and spun strongly. It produced a couple of funnel clouds, but nothing that touched down. Structure was nice, but storms became HP in nature as they moved almost due south in northwesterly flow aloft. Another cell formed southwest of the first and became tornado warned. We blasted towards it since our storm was weakening due to ingesting outflow air from the new storm. As we arrived on the new cell, it was quite messy and never looked like it would produce anything. We stayed with it for a couple more hours until numerous storms exploded between LaJunta and Lamar, CO. At that point, we called it a day and dropped south to our hotel in the Oklahoma panhandle. A fun day and our first supercell came very close to producing a tornado! Enjoy the pics!
June 22nd took us close to home. We approached Denver after chasing north the previous day. We arrived as a supercell was coming off the foothills and intensifying as it right turned towards the Highlands Ranch area. Soon, a low level mesocyclone formed as a clear slot wrapped around it. Within a few minutes a low hanging wall cloud started spinning. Then a rather large barrel shaped tornado formed in the rich moisture and strong wind shear, and descended on Highlands Ranch. EF1 damage occurred as the tornado was on the ground for about 15 minutes traveling several miles. As the storm moved east, it back built on the southern flank towards the Palmer Divide. As we dropped south, another funnel cloud formed, but did not touch down. As we headed east from Peyton, CO the new southern storm became quite strong and was also tornado warned. However, it did not produce, but certainly was intense. Crazy day, and thankfully nobody was killed in the Denver metro area from this tornado.
Due to a very poor weather pattern across the plains of the US, we took our Photo Tour #3 group to Arizona to photograph the monsoon thunderstorms. We had some AMAZING success in northern Arizona, capturing severe storms near Winslow and the Grand Canyon. On the final day of the tour, July 1st, we ended up in southeast Colorado on a supercell that came out of the Sangre de Cristo moutains near Aguilar, Colorado and produced golfball sized hail and high winds. A testament to the fact that Silver Lining Tours will get you ANYWHERE there are severe storms and photogenic storms! Enjoy the pics!
June 7th took us to the north side of the Cheyenne Ridge, playing the upslope there with moderate shear, decent moisture and instability. Several storms formed, with a couple becoming supercells and even tornado warned. It is amazing what some chasers call a tornado (landspout) when it occurred in a part of a thunderstorm that landspouts wouldn’t even form in! Stay tuned to a narrative we will publish explaining how and where a landspout would form.
These storms moved southeast into northeast Colorado and became quite intense, producing very high winds and baseball sized hail. The continued moving southeast eventually into northwest Kansas and were continuously tornado warned or severe warned. Structure was very nice as they marched into central Kansas overnight. A fun day for the tours with plenty of excitement with the storms as we moved in very close to where rotation was, but no tornadoes were confirmed. Check out the images below!
August 19th looked too good not to chase. Good moisture, high CAPE values, strong lift with an approaching wave and good low level shear along a boundary would set the stage for a good day! Mid afternoon storms exploded over northeast Colorado and slowly intensified. One particular storm, south of Holyoke, CO became a supercell. As it drifted east/northeast along the boundary it took off and became tornado warned. Very very strong low level rotation was occurring and the low level mesocyclone eventually became rain wrapped where you couldn’t see it anymore. Extremely heavy rains (4-9 inches!) prevented me from taking dirt, now mud, roads to get into the notch for a better look. However, the storm did produce a tornado, possibly two, one of which was a fast funnel in the hook area before it wrapped up in rain. A fun chase day, and good results, just wished for a better view in the notch! Enjoy the pics!
May 22nd had great potential in Colorado. Good upslope flow and moisture, as well as great instability and wind shear would set the stage for intense tornadic storms! One storm formed early in the afternoon and produced a fast tornado west of Akron. A second supercell formed south of Limon and produced several tornadoes. We were able to intercept the first supercell and tornado west of Akron, but tried to blast down towards Limon later and couldn’t get there in time for the second storm. Still we caught a pretty tornado and then the end of the second tornadic supercell. A fun day, very hectic and exciting!! Enjoy the pics!!!!
May 23rd had great potential in Colorado and western Nebraska. A strong upper low over the Rocky Mountains would draw in large amounts of moisture, while the lift and diurnal heating would generate large amounts of instability. The upper flow was weaker than we would like, which would likely result in high precipitation type supercells, very dangerous storms. A tornado watch was issued before noon and the initial storms formed east of Pueblo, CO. Fast motion carried them towards Limon and points north where one supercell emerged. This storm had a nice wall cloud and tail cloud and had a couple of funnels/weak tornadoes under them. The storm became strongly HP in nature so we eventually left it for points south where shear would allow more isolated updrafts with better visibility under them. All in all, this day under produced, which we were afraid of due to the weak winds aloft. However, any day where you catch a tornado, no matter how brief it was, is always a good day! Enjoy the pics!
July 14th kept us in Colorado to chase off the Palmer Divide into southeast Colorado. A sagging cold front we push moisture westward into the Palmer Divide, causing storms to develop by mid afternoon. Those storms produced copious amounts of hail, but became undercut by outlfow and died. The boundary pushed south as more storms formed along it east of Pueblo. Near the town of Sugar City, one storm formed and spun hard. It quickly became tornado warned and stayed that way for a few hours. A couple of times, it had the look like it wanted to drop a tornado, but it never did. As it merged with numerous storms west of Lamar, the storm interaction with others caused it to produce a quick 1 minute spin up. The structure with this supercell was quite nice. It was also quite electrified! Eventually this cluster of storms pushed into western Kansas and weakened as we followed it east to Garden City. Great day! Beautiful storm and it certainly tried to get very interesting! Please click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!