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RiverCat Journal : Mountain Thunderstorms

Posted by on September 6, 2013

Current Venue: Pueblo, CO
Campground:   Haggards RV Campground
Visiting:  Observing a Mountain Thunderstorm and Visiting Swallows Wildlife Recreational Area
Click Any Photo To Enlarge! ” * ” Denotes A Definition Available on the Common Terms Page

There is a strange occurrence here in the high plains of Pueblo.  The “mountain thunderstorm.”  And yes, that is exactly what the National Weather Service refers to them as.  And, while I’m sure it’s not entirely exclusive to this region I’ve never seen anything quite like it — and I’ve been around lots of mountains.  Every day around 3:00 you can look west toward the hills and expect to see the clouds forming.  By 6 or 7 pm you might see an all-out thunderstorm in the near distance.  Occasionally it will venture our way – we’ve had some doozies.  What’s even more fascinating is that the most intense storms always localize in between a couple specific mountains to the southwest.

When I’ve tried research “mountain thunderstorm” on-line I am overwhelmed by pages and pages of geo-speak and it doesn’t interest me THAT much.  I’m fairly certain, however, that it has something to do with high-pressure-low-pressure systems and the drastic changes in elevation up here.  Pueblo is a little less than 5000 feet, but there are many peaks due west that are over 14,000 feet.  Additionally, this is sort of desert here, but only a few miles up the road there is probably a lot of moisture.  This is my scientific guess.  Needless to say — these storms put a smile on the RiverCat’s face…

mountain thunderstorm, lightning bolt

mountain thunderstorm, clouds

With my budget completely stretched, I can’t afford many day trips.  I have my head buried in some projects this week hoping to pass the time economically until FOOTBALL starts Sunday.  Then I’ll probably do 1-2 day trips before heading to Kansas on the 18th.  But there are definitely some neat opportunities nearby.  About 5 miles down the road, I found a little treasure that even the GPS doesn’t pick up.  I’d always been curious about this highway sign with a “binocular” sign underneath it — no other explanation.  My curiosity got the  best of me yesterday.  About 3 miles down the gravel road and you see a sign : Swallows Wildlife Recreational Area.

I’ve already mentioned the strange weather here.  Well, how often to you find a cemetery and a railroad track inside a nature preserve?





And this?  I still don’t know what I’m looking at…

mountain thunderstorm, marsh

Seeing the lake in the distance I wonder if it’s a marsh.  But after going down the hill to investigate further I find there’s no real trails that get you through the prickly underbrush laden with cockerburrs.  That was enough to deter me.  The wildlife was definitely talking to me — something underneath the mysterious vegetation were thousands of chirping creatures.  But I couldn’t determine if it was frogs or perhaps the closely-related swallow, in which case the park would be aptly-named.


Pueblo Lake State Park borders this land.  Perhaps I’ll corner a ranger there in a few days and get the answers to all my silly questions…

4 Responses to RiverCat Journal : Mountain Thunderstorms

  1. Sandie

    Great pictures but scary looking. Mother Nature has really been making a lot of noise this summer. We’ve had two big ones go through here in the last two days. No hail so that’s all good. I always thought the binoculars meant a wildlife viewing area. Could be an interesting story as to why the cemetery is in the preserve.

    • RiverCat

      I’ll take all the weather I can get after living in the desert the last few years. I enjoy every minute of it.

  2. butterbean carpenter

    Howdy Cool Cat,

    Always go with the quirky signs; they’ll lead you to wondrous sites!!!

    What it is that you’re alookin’ at is a marker/memorial placed at a Confederate Soldier’s grave by the Sons of the Confederacy, memorializing the place!!! It evidently has been there a looong time to be that beaten up and the Confederate Battle flag needs to be changed….
    Hope y’all have a WONDERFUL, HAPPY DAY, in the Pueblo area !!!!

    butterbean carpenter

    • RiverCat

      I was thinking the same thing when I saw the flag. Of course, that cemetery may also get a lot of wind. Across the canyon is where I suspect I see a lot of those “mountain thunderstorms.”