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May 20, 2014:
Spinning storm in Colorado

May 20, 2014: Today, Peggy Willenberg and I shot south from the Nebraska panhandle into central Colorado, driving hard to get into position in front of a cell coming out of the Denver area. We got in front of it around Last Chance and were rewarded with a spinning storm that made frequent wall clouds but could never quite produce a tornado, though it was tornado-warned as it passed over Burlington. Share

Video of spinning, eventually tornado-warned storm in Colorado on May 20, 2014. Video by Chris Kridler.

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image.

    The drive was long and challenging, but finally we started getting in front of the supercell on the road that led us south to Last Chance, Colorado.
    Here's a look at the radar, which shows the cell had big hail we were anxious to avoid.
    Finally, west of Last Chance, we got a look at the pretty base.
    A closer look shows a wall cloud - the first of many we would see on this storm.
    A little vertical perspective.
    The storm appeared to be sucking in moisture at every level.
    And it was coming right down the road.
    Here's a hint of the interesting mammatus the storm would produce.
    Peggy and her 'Prairie Schooner.'
    Loved these mammatus clouds.
    Down the road a bit, we saw this odd mammatus formation in the anvil.
    Here's a wider perspective.
    After making making successive wall clouds and rotating all afternoon, the storm brief assumed a "mothership" appearance.
    The mammatus clouds in the anvil were beautiful.
    And then, north of Seibert, the storm got this "cruller" appearance as it spun.
    It spit out lots of hot lightning - I shot this at 1/160 of a second!
    The fainter bolt here also was caught with hand-held shooting.
    East of Seibert, near Stratton, we observed the beautiful shape of the storm evolve as the sun set.
    A big hail core was dumping in the middle of the storm.
    It's getting closer . . .
    And closer . . . Check out the impressive shaft of hail.
    I tried to get wide shots, but the storm crept up on us.
    What a swoosh the base presented!
    In Burlington, we had to stop for gas. I also shot some lightning, but I wasn't too happy with all the lens flares from the city lights and the busy foreground.
    Nonetheless, I'm sharing a few of the shots here because the bolts were so nice.
    Here's one more - a bolt flanked by lens flares from the street lamps.
    There were so many bolts from the updraft.
    Bolts shot out in every direction.
    I liked the way this lightning curled around the storm.
    The base of the storm assumed a pretty, spinning-top appearance.
    Here, the bell-shaped updraft betrays the storm's rotation.
    The UFO is coming! (And a star appears left of the updraft.)
    The storm was almost upon Burlington, Colorado, and just after this, which was shot about 9 p.m. mountain time, a tornado warning was issued. We saw no tornado.


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All photos copyright 2014 by Chris Kridler, ChrisKridler.com, SkyDiary.com