We started this chase day in Lamar, CO under a slight risk. We arrived at the hotel late, having ended the previous day chase in west central Texas, so I did not post a prediction on this blog. I likely will not post a prediction today either, because our hotel lives in 2001, with no wireless.
We trekked north on US-385 headed to the Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado tri-corner area. Here was the best combination of shear, energy and boundaries. At some point in this stretch of road, my dash camera caused my computer to crash. However, cumulus clouds were beginning to rapidly climb, and sometime between Wray, CO and Holyoke, CO, we ran into some developing storms. We followed two cells along some county roads in Yuma County. One of the cells was very high based, and we passed through the updraft vault and onto the second cell.
Eventually, these cells began to produce pea sized hail. The storms were just slightly ahead of us, and with the sun at our backs, we could see the hailstones fall from a very long distance. I will post video of falling hail later on. When we reached a few hailstones that were larger (nickel sized), we stopped, let the storm advance and then drifted along side of it again. Neither of these storms were set to produce a tornado.
We crossed into Nebraska on US-6, trailing out dying cells. Eventually, there was not much left to see of our original cells, but a new cell had developed near Imperial, NE, and we tried to cut in front of it. We were northeast of it, and it was slowly moving northeast. We were able to get ahead of it, but it appeared to be dying as well.
In spite of it not producing a tornado, the low level inflow was so strong that it snatched my car door out of my hand, hyperextending the door. Seriously, I will have to have my car door repaired- it has shifted on its hinge so badly that it rubs against the fender and might leak too.
We started looking at models for tomorrow, and beginning our hotel search around dusk. As we pulled over to maintain an internet signal, the storm that we had been watching began to intensify. I brought up a radar and velocity scan, and sure enough, there was an area of circulation. We saw a wall cloud develop between lightning streaks. Then the tornado warning was issued. There was no tornado in this storm, but with no spotters out after dark, the radar image was all the NWS had to make a decision.
We watched for quite some time, but it produced no tornado. We tried taking long exposure photos to check for tornadoes- the open shutter and lots of lightning help outline any potential tornadoes.
We were stuck along NE-25. The tornado warned storm was to our north, and a strong severe thunderstorm was to our south. To our north, we saw no tornado, and to our south, there was tennis ball sized hail and 80 mph winds. We inched north, then doubled back, then inched forth again, eventually watching the backend of the tornado warned storm die out. I tried to get pictures of the lightning with a power plant near Sutherland, NE in the foreground, but I had no luck.
We ended the night in Ogalala, NE, with major decisions to make about the next day.
Starting odometer: 283971
Ending odometer: 284391