Tornado west of Pritchett (Baca County)

Several powerful supercell thunderstorms moved through southeast Colorado Wednesday afternoon.  One brought hail up to the size of tennis balls in the Pueblo area...and likely caused millions of dollars worth of damage.

One confirmed tornado occurred in southeast Colorado just before 5:00 p.m. in west central Baca County.  This was the view from NWS Pueblo's Doppler Radar at 4:49 p.m.

While there were many powerful supercells, capable of producing tornadoes, the tornado approximately 7 miles west of Pritchett was spawned by a rapidly developing, non-rotating thunderstorm cell on a boundary, indicated by the black circle.  The cell grew further by 4:54 p.m. shown below...

The supercell to the northeast of this developing, non-rotating cell, was producing large hail, but no tornado.  At approximately 4:57 p.m., the cell on the boundary produced a tornado.  At 4:59 p.m., the Doppler Radar image below showed the non-rotating cell growing further...

At this time, the short-lived, small tornado, called a non-mesocyclone tornado, or landspout, diminished.  Below is a photo of the landspout, courtesy of Laura Ming...

courtesy Laura Ming...

It was a little ironic that with all the supercell thunderstorms across southeast Colorado, with their twisting, powerful updrafts, the lone tornado was a relatively weak landspout tornado spawned by a quickly developing non-rotating thunderstorm cell.  Opposing currently of air at the boundary were pulled up, as the thunderstorm cell developed upward.  The circulation was stretched upward, and the diameter of the circulation decreased.  Much like what happens when an ice skater draws her arms in when spinning, the rotation increased, and a short-lived tornado was born.

Last updated 11:42 p.m., Wednesday, July 29th - Tom Magnuson, Warning Coordination Meteorologist



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