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!
It’s always fun when severe weather keeps you in your own backyard! Such was the case on July 6th! A boundary stretched across the Aurora/Watkins areas and by mid afternoon, storms rapidly developed. Soon a tornado formed south of I-70 touching down for a few minutes. About 30 minutes later, a landspout tornado formed along the boundary just northeast of Watkins persisting for several minutes. We stayed with the storms to see if any other tornadoes would form along the boundary, but as if often the case, wind fields were disrupted by ongoing storms, thus lessoning the chance another tornado would occur. Great backyard chase!
May 10th had great potential in eastern Colorado. Upslope flow, and approaching short wave, good moisture and moderate instability would set the stage for intense storm formation by early afternoon. Initial storms would cluster and produce copious amounts of hail around the Denver metro area and just east. A boundary draped along I-76 eastward towards Wray would be the focus for a few supercells that would produce a couple tornadoes. We were heading towards Akron when we encountered a HUGE line of chasers stopped at construction red lights. This delayed us almost 30 minutes! We ended up watching a tornado from the construction back up and had no way to get east due to flooded and extremely muddied dirt roads. A frustrating day, but at least we managed to catch a tornado!
A big day was in store for Kansas. Supercells with tornadoes were possible as a combination of wind shear, moisture and instability were present with an approaching trough. By mid afternoon the dryline sharpened and soon cumulus towers formed. A cluster of storms had formed northeast of McPherson and the tail end storm started spinning. One small tornado formed as the cell moved north towards the warm front. As it approached it, other storms started forming on an advancing cold front and also became severe. We decided to leave the first storm as storm mergers made things too messy. As we blasted south towards Wichita, a landspout tornado formed underneath an updraft in the line and stayed on the ground for 12 minutes. When is dissipated, when then turned our attention to a supercell near Wichita. It had just spawned the Andover tornado and continued to cycle and become tornadic again near El Dorado. We blasted down to town, now in the dark and headed east towards the supercell’s updraft base. Quickly a tapered cone tornado formed and became visible through power flashes and lighting. It crossed the road in front of us and dissipated. Another one formed within a couple minutes and stabbed down to the ground and lifted. We continued to drift east with the storm and turned north at Rosalia. As we did a massive bowl formed and dropped to the ground! A wedge type tornado formed with multiple vortices. We got blasted with RFD winds wrapping around the tornado and had to vacate the area. As we continued east the tornado lifted as a line of storms merged with it ending the tornado threat. A crazy day with 5 tornadoes! Enjoy the pics!
July 3rd brought us back to Colorado for the final day of the Photo Tour. Nature decided to give us some pre4th fireworks! A boundary set up north/south of a line from Ft Morgan to east of Limon. Intense storms formed along it and with a wind shift in place, two landspout tornadoes formed that we were able to witness. They lasted several minutes each before dissipating. Storms were quite sever with hail tennisball sized and lots of lightning as well. We intercepted the first cells on highway 71 south of Brush and followed the southward building line from there. Good shear, moderate CAPE, but limited low level moisture fueled the severe storms till eventually they gusted out and weakened. Fun final day of chasing for the tour before returning to Denver later in the evening. Please click on a pic for a larger image. Enjoy!
May 21st had a lot of potential. A surface low and triple point was over southwest Kansas. Strong instability, good shear and lift along the various boundaries would set the stage for intense, potentially tornadic supercells this day. We targeted the first intense storm to go up near Lamar, Colorado. It produced tons of hail, great lightning and a couple of weak landspouts. As it pushed east, a second storm formed and quickly became tornado warned. It had great structure and was quite severe. The best storm of the day, however formed near Satanta, Kansas and was an absolute treat to watch. Incredibly electrified and well structured, it persisted for a long time. Just before dark, it produced a couple of funnels, but just couldn’t get the circulations to the ground. One of my favorite chases of 2020 thus far! Please click on an image for a larger pic. Enjoy!!!
May 20th looked decent on paper. Strong shear, decent moisture, and moderate CAPE set the stage for intense storms. An outflow boundary/cold front pushed slowly southeast across Wyoming and northeast Colorado. We dropped from Cheyenne into Weld county, Colorado as numerous towers formed. We noticed a column of dirt in the distance (some 20 miles away!) and it turned out to be a landspout tornado that occurred near Greeley. We couldn’t get close enough for a good photo, but a few guests got a shot or video or two of it from our vantage point. The storms congealed into a tail end supercell and were very electrified! As the sun set, the forward flank downdraft lit up with the most incredible orange I have ever witnessed in a storm! After sunset, the sky was illuminated with numerous continuous lightning strikes that were a treat to watch. Click on an image for a larger pic. Enjoy!
June 8th continued our streak of tornadoes for each tour! Two twisters formed north of Goodland along a boundary. Decent instability and moisture, as well as a wind shift boundary, would provide all that was needed to get supercells to form. One tornado formed late afternoon, and soon a second would also form as the first was dissipating. They both were on the ground for over 5 minutes as they slowly drifted eastward along the boundary. They were quite photogenic as well!
Later in the evening, a supercell came off the higher terrain of eastern Colorado and was very photogenic. Near Flagler, CO the storm had beautiful structure and quite nice colors too! Even a funnel formed briefly under the inflow side of the updraft! After a couple hours the storm eventually weakened as it moved into more stable air, leaving behind an amazing mammatus display! A great way to start the tour!
Well, what can be said here. Caryn and I were walking out of our house on the porch and low and behold and landspout tornado developed just north of the house under a high based storm which had developed on a boundary. It stayed on the ground for about 3-5 minutes before dissipating.