Tracking Twisters Airs TOMORROW!

Tune into 7News at 5:30pm on Sunday for our 30-minute special “Tracking Twisters.”  It’s your chance to ride along with a team of Colorado-based storm chasers from the safety of your own home! You also will get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the 24/7 Weather Center, and how we make our forecasts.

Let us know what you think of the special! Interact with us on Twitter @247Weather or on Facebook at “24/7 Weather Center.”

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Weather Radios, Storm Chasing, and Monsoons

When I got up for work yesterday morning, I wasn’t planning on being almost in Kansas later that afternoon. But an impromptu storm chase trip alongside Tony Laubach resulted in just that.

The members of the 24/7 Weather team were out at Walgreens in southeast Aurora promoting the importance of weather radios yesterday morning. We were at that particular location because it was the site of a tornado in June 2009. Many folks who live in the Smoky Hill neighborhood recall that day well. It prompted many to buy weather radios, and reminded those who already own them just how important they can be.

If you couldn’t come out yesterday, 7News has partnered with Midland Radios and Walgreens to make weather radios available in all Walgreens locations across the state of Colorado. You can pick one up at a store near you; the latest model is on sale at a promotional price of $29.99 through August.

We were all amazed by the remarkable turnout; there was a steady stream of customers from 7am-noon, in addition to people who already owned weather radios who came out to get them programmed. As I mentioned in the weathercast yesterday morning, those radios were going to be put to use later that afternoon when severe thunderstorms returned to the Front Range.

Sure enough, when a Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued just a few hours later, I took advantage of the opportunity to go storm chasing with Tony in eastern Colorado. After talking so much about severe storms throughout the morning with everyone at Walgreens, when the radar started becoming more active I was inclined to go check out the storms for myself. Knowing that Tony has seen over two dozen tornadoes this year, and over 200 in his career, I always am hopeful when chasing with him that maybe I’ll see my first real tornado (from a safe distance of course). Although yesterday didn’t turn out to be the day, we saw some cool cloud formations and some severe hail… and a lot of lightning!

I like having the chance to get outside the studio every once in a while and see the storms up close and with my own eyes. Everything looks so much different on the radar than it does in real life. Chasing with Tony enables me to learn a lot about convective development too; although I worked in Texas for over four years and tracked countless severe weather events, I rarely got to see the storms from outside the weather studio so there is still so much for me to learn. Plus, chasing with Tony also means we get to listen to a soundtrack of nonstop Chicago on the way (I know very few people who have an appreciation for Chicago Greatest Hits 1982-1989).

The severe storms that have been forming over the past week or so have resulted from a “monsoonal” pattern which is typical in the southwestern United States in the summer. A monsoon does not essentially mean rain by definition, it means a seasonal wind pattern change. Southwest winds in the summer pull in Pacific moisture, leading to the heavy rainfall that we associate with the word “monsoon.” This pattern has generated a lot of “outflow” driven storms, which can be like a mini cold front or trigger to get storms fired up at a rapid rate.

We’ll be watching out for similar storms today and the next couple of days. This weather pattern serves as a reminder to have fresh batteries in your weather radio and be alert for severe weather warnings when they are issued for your area! It could be another active week weather-wise along the Front Range and plains.

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Tracking Twisters airs TONIGHT!

The first installment of “24/7 Weather: Tracking Twisters” airs tonight at 10pm on 7NEWS. We will be airing additional segments throughout the week so stay tuned in!

Severe weather season seemed to pick up quickly in Colorado this past week. The most notable event was a funnel cloud spotted in the north metro area on Wednesday afternoon. Coming off a storm chase trip, it was crazy to see something right here at home, whereas we traveled 2,363 miles last week looking for one! A tornado never touched down but it was a scary sight for those in Commerce City, Thornton, and Northglenn. Tornado sirens went off and we had tornado warnings for Adams and Broomfield counties.  If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our My Report slideshow of the funnel cloud… not to mention the hail that covered the ground!

It was my first severe weather event since starting at 7News in February. Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms are something I grew accustomed to while living and working at the southern tip of Tornado Alley in Austin, Texas.  Speaking of which, that was one of the areas hard hit by severe storms over the weekend. Just spoke to a colleague there who said hail 4-5″ in diameter was reported! The storms extended up through Kansas, where TWISTEX was in operation.  Their latest update stated they intercepted the supercell that produced a tornado near Topeka, KS. It had strong rotation as it moved over downtown, but the touchdown occurred outside of the city.

You can keep up with TWISTEX on their website for periodic updates about their chase adventures.  I hope to get back out with them before their chase season ends!

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Some amazing photos from our chase trip!

Special thanks to Paul Samaras for capturing our trip with TWISTEX through the view of this wide angle camera lens!

Here is the link to view his photos!

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4 Days and 7 States Later

2 funnel clouds north of Colby, KS! (and one yesterday in Minneapolis)

Pics and video to follow; been in the drivers seat most of the day which has made it difficult to share online… safety comes first!

TWISTEX had a successful day given their limitations. The “mesonet” vehicles collected data on supercells.

Full report to follow! But here are a few pictures from today’s storm development… Lots of horizontal rotation and the most interesting, and challenging part, was that these storms were not “textbook” and were moving in an unconventional fashion.

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Ever wonder why it’s called the Show Me State? The answer originates in Colorado

In transit from Iowa to Kansas this morning, and when passing through Missouri I was wondering why it is called the “Show Me State.” A quick google search led me to the website of Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. On the site there were several unofficial stories of where the name originates. But it’s interesting to see how one ties to Colorado:

“Other versions of the “Show-Me” legend place the slogan’s origin in the mining town of Leadville, Colorado. There, the phrase was first employed as a term of ridicule and reproach. A miner’s strike had been in progress for some time in the mid-1890s, and a number of miners from the lead districts of southwest Missouri had been imported to take the places of the strikers. The Joplin miners were unfamiliar with Colorado mining methods and required frequent instructions. Pit bosses began saying, “That man is from Missouri. You’ll have to show him.”

Doesn’t look like Missouri will show us any tornadoes today, but Kansas will. The moderate risk is still present and our target destination is Hays at this time, for storms to initiate after 1pm.

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Day 2 in Review

Didn’t think we’d end up chasing in a major metro area but at the end of the day we found ourselves in Minneapolis! With 15+ hours of chasing behind us, I’ll recap the day in the morning as we drive from Iowa to Kansas. Bottom line, we did land upon a tornado- warned cell in the southwest suburbs of Minneapolis with rotation and a funnel cloud, and 2″ hail (there were also reports of tennis ball sized hail with this cell).

The TWISTEX team suffered some major mechanical and vehicle setbacks but they persevered and kept on chasing.

As I alluded to in the last post, taking a chance on the Minnesota storm threat puts us with a sizable drive to the risk area for Wednesday. Models are still in consensus this will be the best day of the week for storms to produce tornadoes!

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