Chasecation 2016, Day 12: Coloradoing

Hallowed ground

Hallowed ground

This chase trip has been confined to a smaller area than many. Prior to Sunday, we had only chased in four states. Since then, we entered New Mexico, but didn’t really chase there.

On Monday, it was Colorado.  Sort of.

It was another day that didn’t look like it would do too much when it comes to tornadoes. We did think there was some chance of landspouts in the High Plains though. Lower mid-level flow plus moderate moisture days can do that.

I was joking about the driving into one, I think.

Given that the trip is almost over — my flight departs Kansas City for D.C. on Wednesday morning — we also kept in mind the travel distance needed to get there in our storm targeting plan. It was a broad threat area, with the most likely stuff from Nebraska and north. But that area was not really worth the drive for what was expected.

There was hint that the Oklahoma panhandle, southeast Colorado or southwest Kansas may have a shot at something discrete (chasers are always looking for the isolated cell) so we headed there. It was more or less on the way to the Wednesday destination of Kansas City.

On the #DriveNorth, news of landspouts emerged from the landspout capital of the world in northeast Colorado (and adjacent Nebraska).

Landspouts tend to form in conditions different than tornadoes created by supercell thunderstorms and their associated mesocyclones. They can develop from showers and high-based thunderstorms. In Monday’s case it was the latter. It gave us some hope our target might try to do the same.

However, the reality was different. We got what Colorado tends to send chasers. Outflow driven storms that had little to no tornado potential. Worse yet, the storms basically died as we watched them. Something of a theme of our trip outside the tornado days.

I call it Coloradoing because I like to turn nouns into verbs to annoy my English major girlfriend. Last year we chased Colorado and Wyoming for days and saw some elevated supercells plus outflow driven storms. The one day we went to Kansas instead, there was a tornadofest near Simla.

Colorado is a tough egg to crack. I’m sure we’ll still try again though. It does create beautiful scenes when it decides to play nice with chasers.

Today looked like one last day of chasing, but it seems another overnight line of storms pushed through much of the region of interest. That likely means we’re done. We’ll drift east and watch just in case. Otherwise, airport bound!

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Defense and foreign policy researcher at a D.C. think tank. Information lead for the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang.