WKU Storm Chase Day 6 and First Week Highlights

Travel path for Day 6 form Wichita, KS to Limon, CO.

After the first bust of the storm chase on Saturday, Sunday would prove to be another travel day rather than a chase day. While there were marginal severe weather chances across far southern Texas as well as much of Missouri, both of these locations in relation to where we woke up in Wichita Sunday morning were not logical to travel to. Both locations were very far drives from Wichita and the environment was just not conducive enough to chase in either area of interest. With that in mind, the focus for Sunday became setting ourselves up for the next chase opportunity on Monday.

Initial model guidance for Monday (Day 7) suggested two areas of interest for possible chasing opportunities. The first area is across northeastern Colorado and southwestern Nebraska. The other area is across eastern New Mexico. At the time of our forecast discussion at 9:30 Sunday morning, it was still unclear as to which area would become more primed for chase opportunities on Monday. However, it was clear that the strategy for the day would be to travel towards those two areas of interest and find a middle point to stay the night that would allow us to pivot to whichever location we chose to be the more favorable chasing environment. After much discussion, we decided that Limon, Colorado would suit our needs for the night. Limon is about a 6-hour drive from Wichita and sets us up nicely for either of the two chase opportunities on Monday. A decision on where we will try to chase will be made during our Monday morning forecast discussion.

With the decision settled, we departed Wichita just before noon Sunday. Much of the ride to Limon was very quiet, as most of us took the opportunity of the inactive weather to catch some extra sleep on the ride westward. In the meantime, we made a stop at Qdoba in Salina, Kansas for lunch around 1:30 Sunday afternoon. A couple hours later, we stopped briefly in Hays, Kansas to meet some of Grady Dixon’s relatives and to have some time to stretch our legs before the rest of the ride. We arrived in Limon by 6:30 Mountain Time or 7:30 Central Time. Dinner was at the South Side Food and Drink, a family-owned restaurant on Main Street in Limon. They have a wide variety of food options that everyone will enjoy. So if you are ever traveling towards Denver (or perhaps on a storm chase trip of your own!), be sure to stop by South Side for a nice meal.

With that, the first week of our storm chase trip is in the books. Although most of the severe weather threats have been categorized as marginal or slight by the SPC, we have still had some great chase opportunities over the first week as well as some great sight-seeing experiences. The biggest highlight so far is the landspout tornadoes near Syracuse, Kansas on Friday evening (Day 4). We also saw an incredible lightning show and shelf cloud from the southern tail of a bow echo trekking across northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska and even a hail producing storm across eastern New Mexico. We have also seen a spectacular Rocky Mountain sunset and even climbed the Capulin volcano in New Mexico! Here are a few pictures capturing some of the big moments from the first week of our trip.

Mammatus clouds over the Big Texan in Amarillo, TX (May 15, 2018).

Panoramic view from the peak of the extinct Capulin volcano in Capulin, NM (May 16, 2018).

Sunset over the Rocky Mountains from Castle Rock, CO (May 16. 2018).

The sun begins to set as a bow echo churns across western Nebraska and northeastern Colorado (May 17, 2018).

A landspout tornado touches down just to the west of Syracuse, Kansas (May 18, 2018).

All things considered, this first week has been an incredible start to our storm chase and we can’t wait to see what the second half of our trip has in store. The chasing continues on Monday!

-Carson Meredith


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