Colorado Tornado Outbreak
22 April 2010

Photos © 2010 Scott F. Blair

I was fortunate to observe ~13 tornadoes across eastern Colorado, generally along a SW-NE corridor from the John Martin Reservoir to Eads to Cheyenne Wells. The majority of these tornadoes were from separate occluding areas of rotation. All but one of the tornadoes appeared to have remained over open country, with one tornado striking a barn (rated EF1). Cloud bases were extremely low, making for a continuous challenge to stay in close range for photogenic purposes.

My target for the day was an area from Lamar to Syracuse, and I gravitated towards the western portion of the target as ample surface heating materialized behind mid-morning convection. The initial cell developed around 12pm MDT south of Las Animas and moved northward as it organized. The storm appeared to split and began to deviate to the northeast within 30 minutes. As it neared Hwy50, a well-developed wall cloud formed underneath a fairly healthy-looking updraft. I stopped just west of Hasty, CO and watched the RFD occlude a portion of the updraft. A bowl-shaped tornado formed by 1pm MDT and eventually evolved into a cone tornado. The tornado lasted for approximately 10 minutes with a secondary satellite tornado developing on the outer circulation.

I repositioned on dirt roads north of McClave, CO and observed a couple more tornadoes over the course of 45 minutes. One narrow cone tornado was fairly photogenic, albeit ~6 miles away, that persisted for about 5 minutes. The supercellís updraft base finally moved within a couple miles of my location WSW of the Neesopah Reservoir, and I was able to witness a couple more tornadoes at a much closer range. These tornadoes were narrow condensed cones, with one persisting for ~8 minutes. As this tornado slowly roped out, a much larger tornado developed to the north.

This tornado was ~200 yards wide and eventually evolved into a stovepipe tornado with an impressive drill-press debris fan. The tornado moved virtually due north, paralleling my road about 1 mile west of my location (west of the Neesopah Reservoir) for nearly 15 minutes. The rotational motion was impressive with the particular tornado, and certainly appeared to be the most intense vortex I observed this day.

Another tornado was spawned roughly 8 minutes following this tornado, and it was difficult to discern whether this tornado originated from the same region of rotation as the previous tornado or a new one. Regardless, this tornado lasted for nearly 5 minutes, becoming borderline-translucent at times. About the only foreground out in this open country was a lone windmill, which served a nice purpose for photography.

As the storm approached Eads, a weak dusty tornadic circulation developed within close proximity of my location. It did however have an impressive, narrow inflow jet at ground level ingesting into the NW side of the circulation. Following this tornado, the storm appeared to have lost some organization, both visually and its radar presentation. Therefore, I jumped on a new supercell to the southwest and caught it ~10 miles SW Kit Carson. While the base/lowering contained decent rotation, I failed to observe a tornado at this juncture. However, as I followed it up to Kit Carson, a 1-2 minute weak, narrow tornado developed just west of town. I observed one final narrow cone tornado ~10 NW Cheyenne Wells at a considerable distance. I ended the day watching some impressive rain-wrapped mesocyclone action just south of Burlington on Hwy385 and enjoyed a dinner with some excellent company.

All photographs and images on this and associated pages are Copyrighted © by Scott F. Blair. Any reproduction either electronic or otherwise without written permission and consent from Scott F. Blair is strictly prohibited by Federal Law. Please direct all inquiries or comments to: Scott F. Blair

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