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                   Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Storm observing roundup for September 2020

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Here's a roundup of weather captures and happenings for this month. The first icy road trip of the season is already on the books with an unusually early snow event along the Colorado and Wyoming Front Range.

September 6: Chicago lightning trip

Models showed a large early-morning storm complex moving through Chicago this day, so I decided to go for another potential round of daytime upward lightning. I left home after midnight to arrive in the city shortly before sunrise. The storms, however, weakened on their northern extent, with only two or three visible lightning bolts over the city and no upward flashes to the buildings.

September 8: Colorado/Wyoming snowstorm trip

I decided to cover the very unusual early snow in the Rockies and Front Range on the 8th, departing early Monday morning the 7th and returning home late Wednesday the 9th. The event did not produce the prolific icy road event that was feared, with the only road impacts above 6,000 feet in the mountains of Wyoming and Colorado.

I spent the early morning hours Tuesday around Cheyenne, Wyoming as freezing rain and sleet iced elevated objects including grass, trees and power lines. I witnessed a power flash from galloping power lines before dawn south of I-80 near Cheyenne, captured by the driver's side dashcam:

Dashcam frame

The precip moderately iced some of the untreated bridges in the area, like this one over I-25 north of Cheyenne:

Phone still

Colorado has electronic icy bridge warning signs at select bridges in the state, a very good idea that I think could be beneficial in many places. Here is one on I-25 near the Wyoming/Colorado border glazed from freezing rain icing:

DSLR still

The main snow event arrived in the Denver metro later that afternoon. However, temperatures below 6,000 feet remained above freezing, keeping the roads and bridges throughout the metro from developing into trouble spots. However, roads were getting covered in the mountains to the west, so I spent the remaining daylight hours shooting video along I-70 between Genesee and Silver Plume (6,000 to 10,000 feet). Despite the heavy traffic and covered roads, I only observed four aftermaths of loss-of-control sequences during this time and did not capture any interesting footage. This scene near Genesee was representative of the conditions on I-70:

Video still

I encountered some bridge icing east of Denver on the way home that evening, but observed no significant impacts.

September 12: Thunderstorms southeast of the St. Louis metro

Convection-allowing models hinted at the possibility of short-lived rotating storms moving from Missouri into southern Illinois along a cold front this day. After work, I headed to Coulterville, IL to look at two storms displaying weak velocity couplets on radar. Despite a few bursts of lightning and some ominous low cloud bases scraping the treetops, I didn't see anything of note.

This page will be updated as the month progresses.

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