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Old 08-18-2013, 10:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keryn View Post
I've been following the NWS Boulder/Denver Facebook page (along with other weather sites) to help get a better feel for the general climate and it seems that there are thunderstorms most afternoons in that general area. Does that seem right to those that live there

I wish! My iphone promises storms most days and most often we get absolutely nothing. At least that is true this year. I live just north of Denver. Many years we get great storms, but doesn't seem to be true for several years now. A couple of years ago we got alot of really spectacular lightening storms but no rain (my dog and others in the neighborhood developed storm fears that year because the strikes were coming down very close). Very disappointed to not get the rain with the storms. When I used to walk to work, in the summer the storms would come up, rain down hard and then go away. If I stayed till 6 p.m. I could walk home in clear weather. That is a great weather pattern! Monsoons are wonderful if you get them and you sure do miss them when you don't.
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
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Mfbe wrote: No one leaves here to go to the upper midwest so they can have long gray bone chilling winters.

Just the other day I was thinking about moving from sunny Colorado to the midwest for a long gray bone chilling winter. That thought lasted a tad less than a micro-second.
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:02 PM
 
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The summer climatology of Colorado is extremely complex. There are no "one-size-fits-all" platitudes and those that profess them are ignorant. There is tremendous variation in summer precipitation, temperatures, thunderstorm frequency, and storm severity potential from place to place--often within a few miles of each other, and from year-to-year. Typically, the most thunderstorm-prone areas of Colorado--in terms of number of thunderstorm days--are the Palmer Divide area from south of Castle Rock to Colorado Springs, the areas immediately east of the Wet Mountains (around Rye, CO), and the areas west of Trinidad just east of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The areas with the least activity are the Northwest Pleateau of Colorado and the floor of the San Luis Valley. The Eastern Plains of Colorado usually have fewer thunderstorm days than the "hot spots," but have more severe individual storm events. Almost all of the area east of the Front Range in Colorado is part of "Hail Alley," one of the most hail-prone regions for severe hail in the US.

The most thunderstorm-prone areas of the United States, both in terms of number of thunderstorm days and number of lightning strikes per square mile are in Florida. Outside of Florida, an area east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northen New Mexico has the most thunderstorm days per year in the US, but, even there, lightning frequency per square mile is much less than areas of the Midwest and Southern Plains. Compared to all of that, Colorado's thunderstorm climate is fairly tame.

PS--I've been studying lightning and thunderstorm climatology for over 30 years.
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:32 PM
 
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Good info JL.
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:06 AM
 
Location: Pluto's Home Town
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
The summer climatology of Colorado is extremely complex. There are no "one-size-fits-all" platitudes and those that profess them are ignorant. There is tremendous variation in summer precipitation, temperatures, thunderstorm frequency, and storm severity potential from place to place--often within a few miles of each other, and from year-to-year. Typically, the most thunderstorm-prone areas of Colorado--in terms of number of thunderstorm days--are the Palmer Divide area from south of Castle Rock to Colorado Springs, the areas immediately east of the Wet Mountains (around Rye, CO), and the areas west of Trinidad just east of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The areas with the least activity are the Northwest Pleateau of Colorado and the floor of the San Luis Valley. The Eastern Plains of Colorado usually have fewer thunderstorm days than the "hot spots," but have more severe individual storm events. Almost all of the area east of the Front Range in Colorado is part of "Hail Alley," one of the most hail-prone regions for severe hail in the US.

The most thunderstorm-prone areas of the United States, both in terms of number of thunderstorm days and number of lightning strikes per square mile are in Florida. Outside of Florida, an area east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northen New Mexico has the most thunderstorm days per year in the US, but, even there, lightning frequency per square mile is much less than areas of the Midwest and Southern Plains. Compared to all of that, Colorado's thunderstorm climate is fairly tame.

PS--I've been studying lightning and thunderstorm climatology for over 30 years.
Great summary. I would add the high country of the San Juans to your list for Colorado. Seemed to be very wet and thundery when I worked there many moons ago. I have been studying this stuff for decades too, primarily the western US; your observations ring true with me-I've always wanted to study the Wet Mtns.

My son and I were reading about hail just last week, and it appears a record hailstone was recently collected from Nebraska, kept frozen, and is now housed in a freezer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. I wonder if that big hailstorm started in the Front Range and juiced up as it cruised "hail alley" over into Nebraska?

Supposed to have thunder out here in Oregon tomorrow. A pretty rare event on the wetside. I hope it happens, but with plenty of water to keep down the fires.
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Old 08-22-2013, 08:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Fiddlehead View Post
Great summary. I would add the high country of the San Juans to your list for Colorado. Seemed to be very wet and thundery when I worked there many moons ago. I have been studying this stuff for decades too, primarily the western US; your observations ring true with me-I've always wanted to study the Wet Mtns.

My son and I were reading about hail just last week, and it appears a record hailstone was recently collected from Nebraska, kept frozen, and is now housed in a freezer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. I wonder if that big hailstorm started in the Front Range and juiced up as it cruised "hail alley" over into Nebraska?

Supposed to have thunder out here in Oregon tomorrow. A pretty rare event on the wetside. I hope it happens, but with plenty of water to keep down the fires.
The San Juans of Colorado and northern New Mexico are indeed thunderstorm-prone in July and August during the Southwest Monsoon, but the shortness of the thunderstorm season and the fact that the individual storms are often shorter-lived takes the area out of the "thunderstorm hotspot" category. There is a good study of New Mexico thunderstorm climatology (I don't have it at hand right now) that illustrates that pretty well. Interesting, too, in that study is that the lightning density per sq. mile is much less in the San Juans than it is in the "hot spot" of the New Mexico Sangre de Cristos. I have been in some very lightning-intense storms in the New Mexico Sanges, only eclipsed by what I've experienced in eastern Kansas, western Missouri, and the areas of the Texas Panhandle and the area north of Dallas/Ft. Worth. All of those areas of the Southern Plains experience thunderstorm and lightning events that eclipse anything that Colorado has to offer.

Oh, and the hailstone that you talk about from Nebraska likely did come from a thunderstorm outbreak that started in eastern Colorado or eastern Wyoming. Quite often, thunderstorms will "hatch" in those areas, then move east on the prevailing westerly winds coming off of the Front Range. If they plow into the "juicy" atmosphere just east of the Colorado border, the storms can go severe. If the winds are favorable, they can also continue generating new thunderstorms as far east as Missouri and Iowa. That is why the favored time of day for thunderstorm occurrence is in early afternoon to late afternoon on the Front Range, but between around 11 PM and 1 AM in places like eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, and western Missouri.
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Old 08-22-2013, 09:58 AM
 
Location: Pluto's Home Town
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
The San Juans of Colorado and northern New Mexico are indeed thunderstorm-prone in July and August during the Southwest Monsoon, but the shortness of the thunderstorm season and the fact that the individual storms are often shorter-lived takes the area out of the "thunderstorm hotspot" category. There is a good study of New Mexico thunderstorm climatology (I don't have it at hand right now) that illustrates that pretty well. Interesting, too, in that study is that the lightning density per sq. mile is much less in the San Juans than it is in the "hot spot" of the New Mexico Sangre de Cristos. I have been in some very lightning-intense storms in the New Mexico Sanges, only eclipsed by what I've experienced in eastern Kansas, western Missouri, and the areas of the Texas Panhandle and the area north of Dallas/Ft. Worth. All of those areas of the Southern Plains experience thunderstorm and lightning events that eclipse anything that Colorado has to offer.

Oh, and the hailstone that you talk about from Nebraska likely did come from a thunderstorm outbreak that started in eastern Colorado or eastern Wyoming. Quite often, thunderstorms will "hatch" in those areas, then move east on the prevailing westerly winds coming off of the Front Range. If they plow into the "juicy" atmosphere just east of the Colorado border, the storms can go severe. If the winds are favorable, they can also continue generating new thunderstorms as far east as Missouri and Iowa. That is why the favored time of day for thunderstorm occurrence is in early afternoon to late afternoon on the Front Range, but between around 11 PM and 1 AM in places like eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, and western Missouri.
Makes sense about the San Juans. I guess the far west side does not have as long of a thunderstorm season.

Vis a vis hailstorms, I enjoyed that about living in Ft. Collins. The storms would kick up in the early afternoon over the Front Range, shade us from the worst afternoon heat, then heading east and grow into towering mountains of clouds as they drifted east and northeast, picking up more moisture, I would guess. Often, towards twilight, they would be illuminated by the reemerging sun (now far west over the rockies), and would be majestic to behold. They add a dimension to the skies we don't get as much of further west.
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:59 AM
 
Location: Bend, OR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiddlehead View Post
Makes sense about the San Juans. I guess the far west side does not have as long of a thunderstorm season.

Vis a vis hailstorms, I enjoyed that about living in Ft. Collins. The storms would kick up in the early afternoon over the Front Range, shade us from the worst afternoon heat, then heading east and grow into towering mountains of clouds as they drifted east and northeast, picking up more moisture, I would guess. Often, towards twilight, they would be illuminated by the reemerging sun (now far west over the rockies), and would be majestic to behold. They add a dimension to the skies we don't get as much of further west.
Fiddlehead, the amazing Colorado thunderstorms are one of the things I miss most. We've been getting a few minor ones here in Bend, OR over the past few weeks, but nothing like what I would experience living in CO. Usually when it's hot here, it's just hot.

Colorado thunderstorms are a welcome sight for most people who live there, I believe. It may get pretty darn hot during the day, but when those afternoon clouds roll in, the temperature can drop by as much as 20-30 degrees.
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