5 days ago we turned in our rental car at the Thrifty location at the Denver International Airport. DIA is located several miles east of Denver (in the middle of nowhere, to be honest) and is really the start of the rural and flat high plains of eastern Colorado.
Yesterday, while we were covering severe weather at the station, Twitter exploded with incredible pictures of a tornado on the grounds of DIA. One of the most dramatic shots of the tornado was taken from, you guessed it, the Thrifty rental car parking lot near DIA.
The storm was quite photogenic and almost looked more like a landspout than a classic tornado. The funnel, thankfully, avoided the terminal though it did manage to get pretty close to the automated weather observation equipment that recorded a wind gust to 97 m.p.h. before biting the dust.
The contract weather observer in the tower at DIA gets mad props from me for the properly coded (and timely transmitted) METAR.
KDEN 182021Z 06022G28KT 5SM +FC TSRA FEW050 BKN080CB BKN180 21/06 A3003 RMK FUNNEL CLOUD B18 FUNNEL CLOUD E20 TORNADO B21 AO2 PK WND 07028/2020 LTG DSNT E-S RAB03 OCNL LTGICCG VC E TS OHD MOV E VIRGA SW P0005
+FC is not what you want to see at an airport if you’re flying. The storm also gave us a unique opportunity to look at it up close on conventional weather radar, particularly the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar at the airport (TDEN), which samples at a higher resolution than the WSR-88d.
The tornado was close enough and wide enough that the actual tornadic circulation produced a “donut hole” on the TDEN TDWR image. Rain or other “stuff” kicked up by the tornado is visible around the funnel itself. The WSR-88D radar from KFTG is also quite impressive though the donut hole is not quite as visible which lower resolution.
Pretty wild stuff. If only we had flown out a few days later!