Origin: Oklahoma City.
On Saturday, May 26th, we got back into Oklahoma City from Elk City, and met up with the new clients while simultaneously saying goodbye to the outgoing ones at our traditional restaurant dinner. On the Sunday, May 27th, the start of the second week of the tours was to begin.
The main target area for tornadoes was in southeast Wyoming, but with the drive looking like a minimum 11 hour trek, we decided to go for whatever we could get (possibly not tornadic storms, but at least something photogenic) along eastern Colorado; which was in a Slight/Enhanced risk area for the day. Knowing the next day target area was in the eastern Colorado/Western Kansas area, we took our time making our way towards Burlington, Colorado, where we knew we'd be staying for the night. This did not go according to plan, as most convection that initiated as we pushed north quickly went linear, and was, in no way, photogenic. This was a concern that we had for the area; the speed and directional shear in the area was nowhere near enough for sustained, rotating supercells. No real tornado threat, and wasn't worth stopping to get shots of. We pulled the plug on the day early (around 5pm CST) after deciding that nearly anything around our area (somewhere near Rush, Colorado) wasn't worth sticking around and watching, and made our way to the hotel to watch the NBA playoff games.
Well, unexpectedly, as we pushed northeast towards Burlington to get ready for the next day, a cell to the west of Burlington appeared to be isolated and strengthening. We weren't sure what time we'd end up in the area, or if the cell would maintain its strength by the time we'd arrive, but we kept an eye on it as we pushed north. When we arrived at our hotel in Burlington (around 8pm, CST), the cell became tornado warned and had a pronounced hook on the reflectivity (the image on the left shows our proximity to the cell, and how the city of Burlington was directly in the path of any tornado, if it formed).
We ran to the back of the hotel on arrival (which, conveniently, ended up giving us prime shelter from inflow that was racing into the cell from the south) and began to watch this cell become one of the more photogenic storms I've seen in quite some time. It was a slow moving, and well behaved one. It didn't display any major strengthening, or sudden speed/ direction changes. We sat at the back of the hotel for a good 40 minutes as it approached us. We jumped on I70 and onto US385 north to keep up with it until dark. We got an incredible mammatus display and incredible structure pictures.
Though it really tried at many points, it did not produce a tornado that I could see during the daytime. It was a good thing because it likely would have dropped right onto the city of Burlington.
Overall, I have no complaints on a day that I expected absolutely nothing from once the early convection died out; considering it was essentially a re-location day.
Destination: Burlington, Colorado.
Daily Distance Traveled: ~550 miles.
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