May 23, 2021


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Limon, CO
Burlington, CO 10:47 AM 5/23/2021
Colby, KS 9:59 PM 5/23/2021
Last Chance, CO; Bethune, CO
0 mph
Rotating Wall Cloud, RFD Gust Front


Upslope chase in central Colorado. Tracked tornado warned supercell with rotation from Limon to Last Chance before abandoning target for new development to the southeast. Secondary play was lackluster with several briefly organized cells followed by photogenic in far western Kansas.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley Ubl, Anton Seimon, Tracie Seimon, Hank Schyma. Equipment: Sony AX100, Samsung S9, Photography courtesy Jennifer Brindley Ubl shooting on a Nikon D4s.




Email forecast discussion to the group:

"Sunday: See the best shear instability combination basically here, perhaps starting at points just to the west and storms tracking just northeast of here. Looks like a dryline play with dominant storm coming off the Palmer Divide and aided by midlevel impulse at 18z across tightening dryline that mixes east. Would recommend setting up west of here on 70 by early afternoon as cap should be open and midlevel energy is in place. HRRR and NAM NEST in agreement on long track supercell running from w to ne of here. NAM NEST earlier on timing and that seems to be the trend so I'd go with that.

Secondary targets include a Tail End Charlie off what looks like a cold front play in the NE PH or the cf/dl triple point. Worried about undercutting from the cold front, and cell interference from strong forcing.

Or a cell further down the dryline, perhaps firing off the Raton and tracking into the Panhandles. Looks like a conditional gamble play at the moment with some CAMs hit or miss in this area or not showing a discrete supercell play. Also a laterplay. Seems further removed better shear and robust low level instability that exists to the north. It's not the lone monster supercell dream chase scenario that I was seeing this morning, but perhaps it's still an option."

Midlevel Funnel
23 miles NNW of Genoa, CO
2:43 PM
We started in Limon, finally in position and early enough to get the initial High Plains action for once. We hopped on a fledgling supercell southwest of town. Of course it didn't really do anything. Limon was already crawling with chasers, but the storms didn't organize until they were tracking north-northeast well out of town, allowing everyone to catch up. The roads were soon lined with chasers. We tried to stay downstream as best as possible. With limited paved options and a fast storm motion, getting caught in the storm chaser "conga line" would probably mean the end of the chase.

Organizing Supercell
23 miles NNW of Genoa, CO
2:43 PM
Between Limon and Last Chance the structure started to get really promising for a tornado.

Rotating Lowering
9 miles S of Last Chance, CO
2:44 PM
The lowering on the left was a rotating, occluded updraft exactly where you’d expect a tornado, but it fell short of wrapping up to tornado intensity.

HP Supercell
9 miles S of Last Chance, CO
2:52 PM
The rear flank quickly filled in with rain and we no longer had a visual on what looked like a promising attempt at tornadogenesis. There was a low contrast lowering still lurking in the RFD, but we had no real visual on what it actually was.

New Wall Cloud
3 miles E of Last Chance, CO
3:06 PM
A new wall cloud developed in the HP supercell’s inflow notch.

New Wall Cloud
3 miles E of Last Chance, CO
3:09 PM

New Wall Cloud
3 miles E of Last Chance, CO
3:10 PM

New Wall Cloud
3 miles E of Last Chance, CO
3:16 PM
It looked dramatic, but the rotation wasn’t there.

In The Notch
3 miles E of Last Chance, CO
3:24 PM
We stayed as long as we could, the storm’s inflow notch enveloping us and finally looking interesting, but then Hank saw the conga line coming down the highway. A tough decision had to be made immediately. We could stay and hope for a front row show, which would then cost us our position for the rest of the chase after getting buried in precip and stuck behind the traffic. Or we could leave to maintain our position in the lead while the roads took us miles out of the way before we'd be in viewing position again. We left.

Second Target
2 miles SSW of Bethune, CO
7:00 PM
We started to go the long route, miles east, and then miles north before we’d be within strike range of the updraft base again. The roads were getting thick with chasers, and storm mode was not looking great on the radar with a congealing line of training cells.

Then Anton had a brilliant plan: abandon this target, and go way east and south for new development. We’d be leaving a tornado warned supercell for another target that hadn’t even initiated yet. It seemed crazy, but we were all immediately on board. Parameters would be maximized just as new, hopefully isolated storms developed. None of us wanted to fight the crowds for the slop we were currently on. It was the sneaky play that would get us a close intercept all to ourselves like our 2019 Tipton, KS score.

We left the conga line and drove east, soon finding ourselves on a long expanse of deserted highway. We turned south planning to stop at Seibert, a tiny town on I-70 with a much needed gas station. We didn’t see another car for miles. Driving over the interstate, the gas station coming into view. I couldn’t believe it. It was a three ring circus of storm chasers, including tour vans, armored vehicles, and radar trucks. There were lines at the pumps. We each got in different lines. A couple other chasers snagged a selfie with me, which I had to interrupt to move my car up as there was a line three deep behind me. Then our group hung out in different corners of the lot, ducking out of the commotion and dust being kicked by the howling southerlies.

Storms finally initiated at the second target by evening. They seemed to have real trouble consolidating into dominant supercells, however, with lots of updrafts each showing modest attempts at low level rotation and supercell structure. Then they’d start to die, probably due to interference and cold pools from the other cells.

Evening Storms
2 miles SSW of Bethune, CO
7:05 PM

Evening Storms
2 miles SSW of Bethune, CO
7:18 PM

Evening Storms
2 miles SSW of Bethune, CO
7:21 PM

Evening Storms
2 miles SSW of Bethune, CO
7:23 PM

Evening Storms
1 miles S of Bethune, CO
7:31 PM

Sunset Stormscape
4 miles SSE of Kanorado, KS
8:46 PM
We chased storms across the border into far western Kansas. The sunset stormscape was prettiest scene of the day.

Sunset Stormscape
4 miles SSE of Kanorado, KS
9:03 PM


Despite the supercell encounters, it’s difficult not to consider this day a bust given the expectations for a tornado intercept along with the number of tornado reports. The storm we left went on to produce tornadoes of varying quality and chaseability. They probably wouldn’t have been research cases for our science mission, but it would have been nice to get a shot of a funnel in contact with the ground, something we wouldn’t achieve this year.

Lessons Learned

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