May 22nd, 2008 Storm Chase

Chased northern Colorado and southern Wyoming with Linnea. This chase started out with a destination of Kansas. As I was packing the car, I mentioned to Linnea that things were already starting to look pretty good out, but that I didn't think anything was forecast for this area. We were not on the road for 10 minutes before a tornado warning was issued about 15 miles north of us near Windsor, CO. We were heading east on highway 52, just approaching Hwy 85. I put us at 20 minutes to catch up to it, and thought the tornado would likely be gone by the time we got there. This tornado ended up destroying much of the town of Windsor, and our chase took us through some of the damage path a couple of hours later.

Another good reason for not chasing that cell was that the clouds just to our south were building quite dramatically at that time as well. So instead, we headed south on Hwy 85 for a few minutes and then cut back west (toward my house!) just south of Dacono. A tornado warning was issued for Docono, Longmont, and Niwot (a few minutes from my house!). Law enforcement reported a tornado just south west of Dacono, which was where we were. But all I saw was a bunch of blowing dust. It wasn't until I got home that I could see the blowing dust going up toward a funnel offset to the right. I caught the tornado! (Admittedly it was a terrible shot through power lines.)

That tornado, the damage at Windsor, a mini supercell, and an interesting downdraft feature with nice eddies were the high points of the day. Our chase took us north through Loveland, Windsor, the middle of the Pawnee National Grasslands, to Cheyenne where we had dinner. We started heading back after dinner with quite a bit of daylight left, only to realize the clouds we just left were rebuilding again! We decided we were only about 25 minutes away and could be back in Cheyenne pretty quickly. So we turned around to go see what we could see. As we headed into eastern Cheyenne, a tornado warning was issued about 10 miles east of there. We were heading down I80 (not far behind some emergency vehicles that had sped past us) looking for the reported tornado. Unfortunately, it dissipated before we could get to it and we never saw that one.

A great lightening storm finished the evening as we reflected on the day's events. This was arguably one of our most successful chases to date, and we didn't even have to drive to Kansas!

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Author: Adam Boggs