The day started off in Pueblo, CO where we were amazed by the hail drifts still being present well into the morning from the storm the previous night. The target for the day was Clayton, New Mexico, which involved a moderate drive over the Raton Mesa and east through the plains of Northeastern NM. The chance was present for a possible tornado with the National Weather Service issuing a slight risk of severe thunderstorms (Probability of a severe event within 25 miles of any one location of 15% or greater), with a particular risk for very large hail.
I guess I should explain why the New Mexico jokes on facebook, Brad has never seen a decent storm in New Mexico and wasn't really keen on it as a chase territory, preferring the panhandles to the east. Fortunately what eventuated on the day helped to change that pre-conception!
Storms took a little while to develop, but by mid-afternoon the combination of good moisture and moderate vertical wind shear began to see storms develop over the high terrain of New Mexico, with storms punching up to sixty thousand feet. Eventually a few storms began to move off the high terrain, and we targeted one of them near Des Moines, NM, a fantastically structured Low-Precipitation (LP) type supercell which yielded an hour of spectacular timelapse. The storm was unfortunately relatively high based which meant that the production of a tornado was unlikely, but the structure more than made up for that.
|'The Road to Less Precipitation', a low precipitation supercell near Des Moines, NM. Photo: John.|
|The structure of the nice LP near Des Moines, NM. Photo: Brad.|
|A close-up of the bell mesocyclone on the LP supercell near Des Moines, NM. Photo: Brad.|
Eventually the LP evaporated and we decided to investigate cells to the west.
Unfortunately things began to get messy, and we began to head back towards Clayton...only to spot what looked like a substantial rotating wall cloud under a thunderstorm to our southeast. No sooner did we notice the characteristics than the storm produced a strong funnel. Unfortunately it was a bit far away from us to confirm whether it was contacting ground at the time. However, given the speed and strength of the funnel formation, it would be unlikely that it was not touching ground at the time. So a possible "sneaky" tornado in the book, we are also pretty sure nobody else was in the area to see it either (many were pursuing a rather pretty little cell in TX instead).
|A sneaky rapidly developing possible tornado from a rotation wall cloud southwest of Clayton. Photo: John|
Later as the sun began to set we noticed the mammatus (pockets of sinking condensed air, which we commonly refer to as 'skyboobs') under the storm began to become more and more pronounced and spectacular. Brad has been looking for a decent 'skyboobies' display on sunset for a while, and it sure didn't disappoint despite the best of the sun being obscured by storms further west. So a pretty spectacular day all round.
|A gorgeous display of 'Skyboobs' on sunset. Photo: Brad|
|Brad gets right in to photographing his 'Skyboobs'. Photo: John.|
|A final taste of the mammatus display. Photo: Brad|
As I write we have jarrived in North Dakota after a particularly long haul to for a tornado watch. So fingers crossed.