First Chase of 2017, First Tornado of 2017! Near Agate, Colorado

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This was my first storm chase of the season and it didn’t disappoint!

This chase lived up to every hope I had for the day and exceeded expectations. I was chasing with my uncle, Eric, who I was excited to be out chasing with again. We arrived in Denver at noon and had plans to grab a quick lunch with my brother, Matt, before I expected storms to fire. We were going to meet at a diner in Bennett which was en route to my target: Limon. That was not to be.As soon as we left the airport the first storm of the day exploded south of Bennett; we cancelled lunch and met Matt in a field near Deer Trail to watch this pretty little updraft mature and then die as it approached.

After this updraft shrunk up and dissipated, we waved goodbye to Matt and began heading toward Limon and a new cluster of towers going up to our south. We thought perhaps we’d have time to grab a bite before things ramped up, but again, that just wasn’t in the cards. A dominant updraft was exploding off to our southwest, so we jogged west on Highway 86 and headed for the developing supercell.

It was quickly becoming a pretty beastly supercell and was showing increasing rotation on radar. We continued west until we had a perfect view of its base, then hopped onto a dirt road north of the highway, due north of Simla. We sat and let the storm approach our location with a rapidly rotating base.

As it neared, a funnel cloud developed and for the next 10 to 15 minutes we were treated to a beautiful white cone that passed by us slowly, spinning like a top. We were never able to confirm ground circulation, although other chasers who were positioned almost directly beneath the funnel) did capture a dust whirl on video, confirming a brief / weak tornado.

Finally, starving, we waved goodbye to the storm south of Anton, made our way back to Limon for beer and burgers at Oscar’s Bar and Grille. All in all, not a bad way to kick off a few days of chasing on the Plains!

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