Late yesterday afternoon, a line of thunderstorms developed across northeastern Colorado, a typical occurrence in early summer. One of these was a tornadic monster that stretched from Castle Rock to the area just east of Denver International Airport.
While such storms usually move rapidly off to the east, this storm, unaffected by steering winds, sat in place throughout the evening, dropping torrential rain, producing large hail and spawning several tornados. In fact, by 10 PM, the massive thunderstorm began to drift southwest and then northwest, eventually stretching along the foothills west of Denver. Though radiation cooling generally causes Front Range storms to dissipate after sunset, this one continued to intensify and, by midnight, was illuminating the sky with incessant cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightening.
Its final push across Metro Denver triggered severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings from the National Weather Service. Here in Littleton, we received heavy rain and an inch or two of pea-sized hail; some areas reported golf ball sized hail and the region south and east of Denver, impacted twice by the same storm, received up to five inches of rain. Exiting the Front Range by 2 AM, the massive storm had put a significant dent in our drought and had produced the most spectacular light show that I have ever witnessed. Of course, for those impacted by large hail, flooding and tornados, the memories of this unusual weather event will be less positive.