Whilst in Denver, I decided that I would head North and visit Yellowstone National Park. It meant a lot of driving and a stop over on the way, which has become de rigeur for this trip.
Pretty much as soon as I left Denver the rain started. Similar to a downpour I’d faced before, i was not too bad, apart from the sparse use of headlights by other drivers. Then the rain turned to hail. It was the size of malteasers. It battered the car for about 150 miles. Other cars were parking under bridges and pulling over. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I figured that if I just keep going, provided I wasn’t following the storm, I’d get through it.
It got worse. The hail was settling and the wind was raging. I passed a truck that had been blown onto it’s side. An ambulance and police were already on the scene. The hail was about 2 inches deep on the road, visibility was bad, the noise was deafening and he road I was on was closed.
It was conveniently closed at a truck stop, so there was a window of opportunity for me to get a hotel room. I don’t know what made me do it, but I decided to navigate using the direction on Little Miss Sat Nav. As long as I headed North, I thought I’d be ok.
So, I ended up on a back road. The hail was much deeper and the road had nothing on it. I had to make it through else I would be stuck. I didn’t see another car for over an hour. I almost lost it on a bend as the car slid on the ice. Somehow I managed to decelerate, turn against the slide (in both directions) and regain control. My heart was racing and I crawled the next few miles. Thunder and lightning added to the cacophony that was going on – it was like I was driving through a battlefield.
The hail eventually gave way to fog, which bizarrely felt like a blessed relief and I continued carefully until, at last I got through it and back to rain. It was then that I decided to stop at a motel. I’d made surprisingly good progress given the circumstances.
I felt quite exhausted, so I sat in my hotel room in front of the TV for a while. They mentioned the storm on the state news.
The storm that spread across Northern Colorado had produced a tornado that had ripped through a coupled of towns. It seems like I was on the outskirts of the storm and somehow managed to drive around the tornado, as I think it was passing over the closed road whilst I took the back roads.
I didn’t see the funnel cloud or anything like that, but I did take a bit of video footage of the hail, when it was relatively weak and it was safe to do so while driving. I’ll post it up here soon. There’s not a lot to see, but it gives a good indication of the noise.
So back in my motel I contemplated my near miss (or nowhere near death experience) and contacted my loved ones to let them know I was ok. Of course, the storm did not make any headlines in the UK, so I think I ended up worrying them for no reason.
As time progresses, this story will no doubt evolve into a twister chasing me down the street, almost on my bumper!