Saturday, May 25, 2013

Friday's chase: storm structure

We kept saying Wray, Colorado.  That was the place to be.

After a quick lunch in Lamar, CO, we went north to Wray, and when we got there, a good area of cumuli was bubbling up.  It pointed to the fact that there was persistent lift and convergence there, so we waited.

As we watched, storms went up in front of us, and we decided to play a bit north, as a) the best-looking storm (both visually and on RADAR) was there, and b) the deep-layer shear would be better there.

We ended up getting on a couple of LP-looking supercells,one of which produced golf ball sized hail in Holyoke, NE.  It kept going and going, as storms around us kept trying to go up.  But this one persisted.

We (read: I) were ready to abandon the storm numerous times, but cooler heads prevailed--the storm kept on appearing to die on RADAR, but it would still look good visually--a well-separated region of updraft and downdraft.  So we stayed, and we were rewarded with hanging out on the storm of the day.  The one clue that told me that maybe we should stay was that, despite, low reflectivities being present, the echo tops were still above 50,000 feet.  A good top, for sure.

We kept going on and watching this storm which happened to be moving slowly--maybe 30 km/h, at most--and it slowly gained a better look on RADAR.  Soon it got severe warned, with big hail once again being the big threat.

Of course, this had to happen right around dusk, so that chasing wouldn't last too much longer.  And wouldn't you know it, but the storm decided to go absolutely crazy just when it got too dark to see properly--give-up time, in other words.  The tops got even higher, the reflectivity got more of a classic shape, and rotation really got up there.  So much so that the NWS issued a tornado warning on it.


Well, we weren't going to chase it at night, as that's just too dangerous.  So we went back to the hotel, secure in the knowledge that a) we were on the right storm and b) we got some good photos from the hours and hours we spent watching it.

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