Feeble Central Colorado Storms

August 12, 2008 by
Filed under: Summary 

Franktown to Broomfield CO
16 Jun 8

SHORT=LONG: After the adventuresome chase of the 12th, and photographing abandoned buildings with the Doswells on the 13th, the pattern aloft turned to the dreaded Rockies ridge, shutting down even the most marginal chase opportunities for several days and sending us to the DEN area for some R&R at Elke’s mom’s place. Starting on the 16th, enough flow began to sneak through the ridging and enough moisture began to creep back northward in the boundary layer that we again became concerned for supercell potential in the great Plains. One target area was for high-dewpoint HP storm potential in southern OK and north TX, 8-9 hours away. A secondary but far closer threat practically was in the back yard: high-based storms on the Palmer Divide near the mountains, with barely enough shear to consider some storm rotation potential.

Not desiring to drive hundreds of miles and burn away hundreds of more dollars in fuel money for the Red River HP setup, then potentially try to whipsaw way back N to Nebraska the following day, Elke and I chose Option 2. We stayed close to DEN in hope for high plains magic that didn’t really arrive. Still, we had some photographic opportunities and stayed in decent position to head N in the ensuing couple of days toward stronger midlevel winds.

The day’s progs of 50+ F surface dew points panned out only over that portion of CO S of the Palmer Ridge. That air mass stayed under stratus and remained rather cool for most of the day. With very strong capping evident in the morning DEN RAOB, and only a narrow corridor of potential near the Front Range before storms would move into cool, capped air, we knew we needn’t wander far.

By mid-afternoon, some high based junk started to build along the Front Range N of Pikes Peak, so we meandered SE to high vantages near Kiowa and S of Franktown to watch. The beautiful countryside, especially S of Franktown, formed a splendid foreground for the junky, high based convection that was trying but failing to become supercellular soon after initiation, before losing definition. CAPE just was too feeble today. It was that rather uncommon afternoon when 50s dew points lurch back into the Front Range and nothing of consequence happens.

We then retreated back to Stearns Lake near Broomfield for sunset photography of dying storms over Rocky Mountain NP, followed by a short line of Cb that developed beneath the rising moon to our SE.

It was pretty much a bustola, but one that still yielded a couple of decent pix and didn’t use much fuel. Got a lemon? Do what Ryan Jewell would: Make some fresh LEMONADE! [Inside humor…]


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