Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Supercell in Southeast Colorado and Southwestern Kansas

Wes Adkins and myself drove to southeast Colorado by noon time on May 24th, observing generally mushy looking updrafts slowly evolve to our west.  While parked in front of the entrance to a ranch, an old cowboy, by the name of Charlie Fowler, drove down his long stretch of dirt road in order to investigate why we were parked near his property.  He was friendly, and we struck up a long conversation while occasionally glancing off on the horizon at our target storm.  Eventually, Charlie offered to take us on to his ranch (officially named Fowler Cedar Cliff Ranch) and show us the historical remains of a homestead via the late 1800's.  We received a personal tour of the homestead property, which featured an old barn, sod house, and windmill, and I'm very grateful to Charlie for the warm welcome.  After an hour, we parted ways, and followed what was now an intensifying supercell that displayed 70 dBZ reflectivity values in the mid to upper levels of the storm.  Large hail was a sure bet with this cell, and we made certain to stay well ahead of its precipitation core.  Cloud to cloud lightning was constantly being produced, as well as a few CG's, and the leading edge updraft showed some helical structure from time to time.  Low-level scud eventually blocked our view of the storm after sunset, while a prolific tornado producing supercell was approaching from the southwest.  We entered Dodge City, KS immediately before the southwestern supercell merged with our bowing supercell to the west.  Tornado warnings continued to be issued for this complex as we fell asleep in our Dodge City hotel.

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