June 13th, CO front range

Initial Target: Limon, CO
Starting From: Altoona, IA
Ending: Altoona, IA
Overnight Stay: Boulder, CO, Longmont, CO
Storm Intercepts: Several
Features: Mountain streams, clean air, freedom.
States: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska
Miles: 1,746
Summary: Long drive for a bust; made the best of it.

It’s mid June, and there are already signs the “Death Ridge” is on the horizon, signaling the end of chase season 2016.

That being said, it’s tempting to say we were heading to Colorado as the “last hurrah” of the season, but in fact the setup was pretty decent. Surface winds were in place to show us some “upslope magic” and there was sufficient moisture and CAPE in place to make this a very good chase day.

My long-time chase partner Kirk came out of his secret cave for this one, and was up for a multi-day chase. Two awesome guys on a road trip – what could possibly go wrong?

Answer: EVERYTHING, from a meteorological standpoint.

I left my house at 3am Monday and headed for Kirk’s house, an hour away. We decided to take the southern route to Colorado, using I-70 through Kansas (Kirk and I have a mutual hatred for Nebraska) and we were well into Missouri before sunrise. We carefully maneuvered through the Kansas City metro and picked up I-70 in Kansas, where we could set the cruise control to “Warp 5”. Soon enough, we were at the Colorado border, where we were immediately slowed to half-impulse power due to road destruction construction. Miles upon miles of road construction. Ugh.

Eventually we reached our target of Limon, CO, and even had some time to partake of some local cuisine (Wendy’s Hamburgers – Limon has a population of less than 2,000) where I ran into meteorologist Tony Laubach.

Waiting for initiation. *snore*…. Dozens of other chasers in our immediate area, dozing off as well.

Storms started firing WAY south, down near the CO/NM border. Many chasers immediately headed south. We decided to stay put for the time being. The HRRR showed an initial round of storms with other cells firing behind the line, so.. patience….

It was starting to get late in the afternoon, and NOTHING good was happening. A cell had fired up near Kiowa, CO, so we headed West. As soon as we got there, we saw it was a lame cell. Weak updraft, no spin. A stronger cell was heading our way from down south, so we positioned ourselves East of Kiowa and waited. Same thing. Weak updraft, no spin. UGH. Storms were firing off the front, moving off the line, and dying a slow death.

We did the only reasonable thing we could do after driving 800 miles. We recognized a bogus setup and found a hotel in Boulder, CO. We hit up a local pizza place and drank some delicious beer before early bedtime. We spent the next day hanging out in the mountains, featuring an impromptu trip to Estes Park. We spent that night in Longmont, CO and the next morning made the  long drive home.