High Plains Drifter

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and do not necessarily represent those of official National Weather Service forecast products,
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May 2, 2010

Chase Trip Day Eight (May 1) Summary [21 images]

Filed under: Early Chase Trip 2010,Photography — Mike U @ 11:35 am

Northeast New Mexico/Southeast Colorado Snow Showers.

(rest of images at the bottom of this post)

May 1st, which was day eight of my storm chase/photography trip, was actually quite a fun and interesting day photographing scattered snow showers with ambient surface temperatures in the mid 40s to lower 50s.  Given the continued dry environment in the low levels… with dewpoints in the mid to upper 20s… these showers would allow temperatures to wet-bulb down into the mid to upper 30s.  The environment was characterized by very cold temperatures in the mid-levels for the second day in a row with 500mb temperatures of -22 to -24 C.  All it took was just a few hours of insolation after sunrise to get the initial cumuls to develop over the higher mesas across northeastern New Mexico.  Knowing this in advance with the models all showing convective precipitation developing by 18z in this environment, I decided to depart Clayton during the late morning hours for Capulin Volcano to do some sightseeing and photography, knowing very well that I would have some interesting sky to potentially photograph to go along with the landscape.  It ended up working out just as I had hoped.  I arrived at Capulin around 12:30pm or so, wandering around the rim of Capulin on the 1-mile loop rim trail photographing the varioius showers.  These showers were so small, it actually made for better photography, because I could fit the entire shower… and sometimes two… in one ultra-wide angle frame.  One of the stronger showers to the west developed a small anvil and even some mammatus.  Showers with contrasting white snow shafts against an otherwise fairly blue sky…and warm-colored ground…made for good images.  I left Capulin and headed north to Folsom then briefly northeast from there to get under a heavier shower that was along and just south of Hwy 456.  I started to hit the moderate wet snow about 3 or 4 miles east of the Hwy 551 junction.  It snowed just heavy enough to create a light white blanket on mainly elevated surfaces.  I found a small row of hay bales which made a great subject with a light coating of wet snow on top.  I then turned around and decided to head west along Hwy 72 across the Johnson Mesa to Raton.  I then went north to Trinidad and was hoping to stop by for a quick bite to eat and a beer at the Trinidad Brewing Company, however apparently this place is now closed.  Since the brewpub hunt was a bust, I continued my merry way back to the east on Hwy 160 stopping occasionally to photograph more of the showers.  One stronger cell developed just north of Kim early in the evening, and I even chased this for a brief time before it died.  All in all this was quite a fun day of shooting!

Begin:  Clayton, NM
End: Dodge City, KS (home)
Day Eight Mileage: 461 mi.
Trip Mileage: 3654 mi.

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  1. Wow, you have some great ones in there, Mike!

    Comment by Dann Cianca — May 2, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

  2. I’m a little jealous! I took a road trip from Dallas to Trinidad during the first week of June last year, and made it a point to stop at Capulin and photograph from the top of the volcano on my way to Trinidad. I had a beautiful sky of early-stage convective cumulus to photograph, as seen in a couple of photos on my website, but no snow showers. Those were waiting for me at 11,000 near the Cuchara Pass along the Highway of Legends west of Trinidad, where I experienced a brief, 15 minute wet snow shower near the Bear Lake Campground inside the San Isabel National Forest. The interesting thing about my snow shower was that, at roughly the same time, there was an ongoing Tornado Warning for Trinidad! This was my first real experience with the dynamic weather of the mountains in Colorado and it made me thirsty for more!

    Comment by Ken Reynolds — May 2, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

  3. Dan: Thanks for the comment!
    Ken: Thanks for the post and your interesting account from last June. Northeast New Mexico and Southeast Colorado is so magical for weather, and it doesn’t take much for fine photography, which is why I am always coming back. Great images on your blog, by the way… especially the recent Texas Panhandle event. Wow!

    Comment by Mike U — May 2, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

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