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THE BEAST OF COLORADO!


I REALIZE WE HAVEN’T GOTTEN TO THE POINT OF NAMING SUPER CELLS YET. SNOWSTORMS YES. HURRICANES SURE. BUT NOT THESE BIG, BAD BEAUTIES THAT SUCK UP THE ENTIRE SKY WITH THEIR OVERBEARING PRESENCE.

SO I AM GOING TO START THE TREND. HERE AND NOW. TODAY THE TSWAILS.COM “INTO THE STORM” CHASE TEAM CAME UPON MARGOT THE MAMMOTH SUPER CELL.

MARGOT WAS LITERALLY SUCKING UP ALL THE ENERGY IN THE ATMOSPHERE AND HOARDING IT. STRAY INNOCENT CLOUDS. GONE. INTO MARGOT’S GULLET. WARM MOIST AIR. SWALLOWED. ELECTRICAL ENERGY POOF. THIS SUPER CELL WAS JUST ABOUT PARKED OVER THE ENTIRE AREA OF NORTHEAST COLORADO. WITH OUR CRACK TEAM OF METEOROLOGISTS, STORM CHASERS, AND JUST ALL AROUND WEATHER ENTHUSIASTS, WE SKIRTED AROUND MARGOT ALL DAY. SHE TRULY GAVE US A LOT OF DIFFERENT LOOKS. IN FACT I WOULD GO SO FAR AS TO SAY THAT MARGOT AND HER ILK ARE THE ORIGINAL RE-INVENTORS. YOU SEE SUPER CELLS ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING THEIR LOOKS AND EACH NEW REINCARNATION IS AS FABULOUS AS THE LAST.

WE FIRST CAUGHT UP WITH MARGOT JUST OUTSIDE OF FORT MORGAN, COLORADO. SHE WAS SLOWLY MOVING NORTHEAST. HER FIRST LOOK FEATURED COWS IN THE DISTANCE. WITH MOODY, DARK CLOUDS SHE HUNG LOW IN THE SKY TENSE AND FOREBODING.

WHEN WE NEXT CAUGHT UP WITH MARGOT SHE HAD ONCE AGAIN MORPHED INTO SOMETHING EVEN MORE BEAUTIFUL. NOW HER MOODY LOOK HAD BECOME A DRAMATIC BLACK AND BLUE STYLE…SIMPLY COUTURE. SHE HUNG IN THE SKY LIKE A DARK WARNING TO ALL TRAVELERS. WE STAYED WITH HER AS LONG AS WE COULD DURING THIS PHASE. IT WAS JUST SO BEAUTIFUL TO STAND ON TOP OF THE RIDGE AND WITNESS HER SWIRLING BLACK SKIRTS ENCOMPASSING US.

NOW MARGOT ONCE AGAIN SWITCHED UP HER LOOK. THIS TIME SHE RESEMBLED A STRIATED ALIEN SPACESHIP LOOKING TO LAND. THIS GIRL HAD IT GOING ON!

THE DAY OF SURPRISES DIDN’T END THERE. MARGOT WAS JOINED BY HER SOUTHERN SISTER, DIXIE BELLE, A NEW SUPER CELL THAT HAD FORMED TO THE SOUTH. BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM WE RECEIVED QUITE AN EYEFUL. THEY DUMPED HAIL. AND HAIL. AND MORE. SOME HAILSTONES AS LARGE AS TWO AND A HALF INCHES IN DIAMETER (TENNIS BALL SIZE). THE HAIL COVERED THE ROADS AND FIELDS IN PURE WHITE. IT WAS WINTER ALL OVER AGAIN (SHUDDER!). TRAFFIC SLOWED TO A CRAWL AS WE NEGOTIATED OUR WAY AWAY FROM THE REALLY BIG STUFF. BUT AS YOU CAN SEE…THE STONES WERE QUITE PHOTO WORTHY.

THEN THE MOMENT. THE THIRTY SECONDS WHERE IT APPEARED MARGOT HAD DONE US WRONG. FROM A DISTANCE DEBRIS SHOT UPWARD. TREES SLAMMED THEIR NECKS DOWN. SOMETHING BAD WAS COMING. LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW I COULD FEEL ITS PRESENCE SPEEDING TOWARD ME. IT WAS A PURE MOMENT OF DEER-IN-THE-HEADLIGHTS. I SIMPLY DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. “THERE’S A TORNADO ABOVE US!” SHOUTED ONE OF OUR EXPERIENCED CHASERS.

“WHAAATTT!” I CROAKED. SHOULD I LOOK OR SMOTHER MY HEAD IN A PILLOW. I DECIDED TO LOOK. TREE BRANCHES SWIRLED, HIGH VELOCITY WINDS ROCKED THE VAN.

“THE POWER LINES ARE GONNA COME DOWN!”

“NOOOOO!” I CRIED.

“THERE IT GOES!” YELLED ANOTHER PASSENGER.

“WHERE…WHERE…WHERE?” I SHOUTED, HOPING WE HAD MADE IT THROUGH AND ALL WAS GOOD.

IT WAS. THE TORNADO THAT CRESTED OUR VAN WAS PROBABLY A ZERO LEVEL TORNADO WITH WINDS ESTIMATED AT 90 MILES AN HOUR. I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN TO EXPLAIN TO YOU THE ADRENALIN THAT WAS RACING INSIDE THAT VEHICLE. WE WERE A MIXTURE OF RELIEF AND EXCITEMENT. THRILLING AT THE MOMENT AND SO HAPPY TO BE COMPLETELY INTACT. IT WAS INSANE. IN A GOOD WAY.

SO I WILL BE THE FIRST ONE TO TELL YOU THAT MARGOT AND DIXIE BELLE DID NOT LEAVE US DISAPPOINTED. TRULY AN AMAZING DAY OF STORM CHASING. ONE THAT WILL NEVER BE DUPLICATED. WE WILL NEVER SEE THOSE TO SUPER CELL SISTERS AGAIN. BUT THEY WILL FOREVER BE A PART OF OUR STORMCHASING LORE.

CAROLYN

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© 2020 Terry Swails