May 31, 2006 - HP Supercell Thunderstorm near Limon, Colorado

by Sam Barricklow

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This day began in Pampa, Texas. The target was eastern to northeastern Colorado.

An HP supercell developed near Denver. It initially moved eastward, but turned southeastward toward Limon as it strengthened, almost producing a tornado just north of Limon, Colorado.

I shot HD video of this storm, resulting in some good time-lapse of the evolution of the mesocyclone and associated rear flank downdraft.


Driving from Kit Carson to Limon, Colorado, we ran into the usual one way traffic detour around road work.
We drove to the northeastern side of Limon to view the approaching HP supercell.
Within a few minutes, the Doppler on Wheels armada passed, as they moved into position to sample the storm with their powerful doppler radar.
As the storm passed just north of Limon, the mesocyclone wrapped with precipitation, producing a circulation on the ground of 30 meters per second, as measured by the DOW. An anti-cyclonic circulation developed just to the right of the rear flank downdraft (RFD) jet.
As the storm evolved, a new RFD slot developed, producing a new cyclonically rotating mesocyclone just to the left of the axis of the jet (as viewed if the observer were in the rain area looking eastward toward the direction the storm was moving. This photo was shot looking almost due north toward the storm.
I drove east from Limon, and chose to use a gravel frontage road adjacent to the interstate. The new mesocyclone has grown larger and stronger.
I never cease to be amazed that people will drive into a storm that looks like this one! The storm produced copius amounts of large hail. Snow plows had to be brought out to clear the highway north of Limon!


We drove east and then south to escape the hail. When we returned to Limon later in the evening, a line of storms was located just south of the interstate at sunset. The line was thin, but produced fairly frequent cloud to ground (CG) lightning strikes, against a background of sunset color.
Before returning to Limon for the evening, we stopped for a good meal with other chasers.


Copyright 2006 - Samuel D. Barricklow - All Rights Reserved

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Last revised: November 28, 2008