There’s nothing like waking up in Roswell, New Mexico, and not having time to enjoy all the UFO-related tourist traps. At least Alethea Kontis and I had done so before … but this morning of May 29, we had to get on the road and get up to southeast Colorado to reach our chase target. We were in good company, as a flotilla of other storm chasers also thronged the roads once we got there.
We caravanned with Scott McPartland and Dave Lewison, in Scott’s Xterra, which sports shields to keep out hail, as well as Jason Persoff, whose car has a number of honorable hail dents. Jason was one of the lucky chasers on the Campo, Colorado, tornado in 2010, and our target was in the same area in what he recognized as similar conditions.
We ended up north and west of Campo, southwest of Pritchett, keeping an eye on storms that showed little organization. But the models called for better dewpoints to accompany moisture-transporting winds from the south, and when they arrived – bingo! The storm we were watching evolved quickly into a rotating supercell. A wall cloud followed, then a big cone tornado as rain wrapped around the mesocyclone. Yes, it was another “maybenado” of 2021, except enhanced images and other chasers’ reports confirm that we did indeed see a tornado. Hey, even if it was in the murk, I’ll take it.
As we tried to keep up with the storm, we bounced on a dusty gravel road through Colorado canyons, headed south across the Oklahoma border. This is a hilly area, and Alethea and I found a couple of high spots to watch inflow streaming into the storm, which produced one apparent wall cloud after another. In spite of radar showing rotation in just the right spot, and suggestive, ground-scraping cloud features, we saw no other tornadoes.
We all met up on the road again as darkness fell. We stopped on the north side of Boise City, Oklahoma, at the Cimarron Heritage Center, which has a fantastic big dinosaur sculpture that was the perfect foreground for lightning. After fun photography (and a very cool timelapse – check out the video), we ran into other chasers in town, compared notes, and wrapped up what was a really fun chase.
In spite of maybe-nadoes.
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