February 8, 2002

Drove to Denver CO this afternoon for the Colorado Chaser Party. The drive up there took me through all kinds of interesting weather, and almost qualifies as a successful chase.

A strong low pressure system was centered in eastern Colorado today, and its position put me in a stiff crosswind just about everywhere I went - I had south winds while going west on I-40, southwest winds while going northwest on US 270 and west on US 412, and west winds while going north on US 287. Skies were mostly clear and temps were quite warm (60s) in northwestern Oklahoma and southeastern Colorado, but once I got north of Lamar CO I started to notice a line of fuzzy low-topped, high-based Cu off to my northwest. I started to get underneath the line of Cu near the town of Kit Carson CO, where winds had finally turned light for the first time on my trip. This Cu by no stretch of the imagination was anything to write home about, but it sure got the juices flowing considering it was February in Colorado. What really got the juices flowing were some hazy red skies I saw off to my northwest and north as I drove through Hugo CO. About two miles northwest of town it became apparent that this was a dust cloud, and upon entering this dust cloud I was slammed with a tremendous northeast crosswind. I had to battle this 40-60 mph crosswind and blowing dust occasionally reducing visibility to 1/2 mile throughout the final 100 mile trek to Denver. An amusing moment came on I-70 near Strasburg CO when literally thousands of miniature tumbleweeds rolled across the interstate as if they were part of some mass migration southward. Damn I wish I had video of that.

Cold temperatures and stinging sand driven by 50-60 mph winds continued in Denver throughout the 9th, making it uncomfortable being outdoors at all. The weather was not the only good reason to stay indoors, as Roger Hill and Tim Samaras hosted one hell of a convention that featured great food and great presentations. Those who stayed the entire 13 hour, 18 minute duration of the convention were treated to some stunning video. Everyone's video was excellent and captivating, with the Columbus NE "where are my pants" video being a crowd favorite.

Skies cleared and winds calmed down by the 10th, allowing for a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains to the west. My drive back to Norman was almost perfect, EXCEPT for the fact I locked my keys in my car while getting gas in Elmwood OK!!! DOH!!!!!!

Also of note was the incredible amount of damage from the ice storm just one week earlier between Yukon and Watonga. The towns of Geary and Greenfield looked to be especially hard hit, all of the trees in both towns appear to have been hit by an F3 or F4 tornado!!!!

Total Mileage: 1296 miles (649 miles there, 647 miles back)
Total Driving Time: 10 hours, 20 minutes there; 10 hours, 27 minutes back

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