Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cap: Boom or Bust

DAY 9 JUNE 2, 2008

There were two areas of interest today, one to the north and one to the south. Dynamics favored rotating storms for the south but the cap was stronger, while the cap was weaker but less chance of rotating storms to the north.

We departed from Ogallala, NE at 11am MDT. It was a bit of a bumpy ride, it seemed the balance was off on the tires. In Sidney, we grabbed a Pizza Hut buffet lunch and went to go for an oil change and have the tires looked at but we couldn't find a place that would do it quick enough. We continued south and stopped at a Super 8 so Ron could get some wifi to check the models. He was still a bit uncertain of which target to pick today. While he was doing that, I was doing some sky reading. It seemed that things would definitely rotate today... we noted a small cumulus actually rotating in the shear environment. The sky was pretty clear still, a telling sign that the cap was in place and would be stubborn to pop. But if it went, things would get real interesting.

Ron finally decided that we head south and east, hoping that the strong cap would budge and give us good storms later in the day. On hwy 36, we saw some really old cars stuck in along the banks of a dried up river, probably to help prevent erosion. The people out here sure have interesting ways to use their resources, that is for sure. We continued east into Kansas and stopped in Colby to have something to chew on at, yep, a Sonic at around 8:30 CDT. We watched the sky and Ron continued to update himself on models, satellite and radar feeds.

We saw some development to our west back in Colorado, just east of Denver (go figure!), so we decided to try our hand on catching up to it. So we head back on I70 west. As we were nearing the supercell, it started to look very promising. Ron was hoping to get us into position to see a nighttime tornado. We were about a half hour away from the supercell when it started to turn right and hook. Dang it! Why can't these things just wait till we get there?! Well, it looked like a very healthy supercell so our hopes on catching something interesting remained high. At one point it had a v-notch and it was 60,000 ft tall. Beautiful! Unfortunately it appeared some small towns where in the path of this tornado warned storm.

Then something unexpected happened. A microburst occurred just northeast of the supercell and it started to collapse. Noooooooooo! Not only did we miss any potential tornado, but we missed the storm when it was at its best thanks to the microburst. The cold air have pushed everything away that the supercell needed to survive on, such as inflow. We took some back roads and saw a little bit of lightning and pulled over to observe and photograph lightning but that didn't even go as well as I had hoped because the storm was dying. Unfortunately by now, it lacked structure and good bolts. Boooo, Hissss, Roar! We gave up on our frustrating day and spent the night in Limon, CO at an Econo Lodge.

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