Thursday, July 17, 2014

Last storm during July 15th chase

This is a photo of the ground-scraping wall cloud we witnessed from our position a few miles northeast of Yanceyville NC:
Now, this is a velocity radar image at about the same time:

See why we diverted from dinner to chase this last storm? Unfortunately we were never able to get a clearer view underneath the wall cloud so something could have dropped from it without us witnessing it. Still, this was a very cool sight for the East Coast!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Redemption via an autumn-like cold front

After yesterday's frustration I headed out earlier today to get ahead of the convection that was to fire ahead of a very strong July cold front. I stopped by the local TV station and picked up their summer intern who helped with navigation and social media information transmission. We located just east of Glade Hill in Franklin county to await convection along the lee trough.

When things did begin happening the action was further east than I'd expected so we pulled up stakes and blasted east on Rte 40. A line of discrete storms went up ahead of us, necessitating our continuation eastward through Gretna. We turned southeast on the Cody Road and gained position on the northern cell:

As this cell steamed eastward we turned south on Rte 501, pushing through Halifax and then east on Rte 360 to keep up. As we did so we noticed a storm south of us with radar-indicated rotation on it. Thus when our chosen storm didn't look very promising we dove south toward South Boston to give chase to this other cell.

Continuing south out of town we caught brief glimpses of lowerings underneath this next storm until we finally found an open field. From here we turned on the live stream and snapped photos of the wall cloud and mesocyclone signature underneath the cell:
As this storm pushed further east and south we stayed ahead of it as best we could, stopping just west of Virgilina for this view:

Pushing east on Rte 96 - just above the North Carolina line - we passed through Virgilina and then stayed eastbound on Rte 49 toward Clarksville. Just east of the former town we paused for another look at the southern edge of this cell as it crossed right to left in front of us:

As we rolled eastward the rain filled in, nipping at our back bumper until we decided to turn northward to get back to the Rte 58 corridor. We stopped briefly at one vantage point to observe yet another rain-free base to the southeast with a lowering developing underneath it:

When the rain began filling around this feature we pulled back out onto our northward route, eventually reaching Rte 58 and turning west toward South Boston. After filling up the chasemobile's gas tank there we motored toward Danville with an eye toward dinner and then heading back home...but the storms had another idea. 

As we rolled along a couple of cells south of the North Carolina border began exhibiting significant rotation on radar and of course we couldn't ignore them. Turning south toward Milton and then southwest toward Yanceyville we had tantalizing glimpses of a large lowering. Finally managing to find a rare open spot we saw this ground-scraping wallcloud a few miles north of Yanceyville:

We live streamed from this location for a few minutes while this feature came more or less right toward us. Wanting a clearer view of the underside of this very low-hanging feature I finally pulled up stakes and wandered along several routes before giving up in frustration due to the limited sightlines. There was another storm further south and west that showed a bit of rotation but by this time we were done for the day. Dinner awaited us in Danville!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Choices, choices

Given the Slight Risk issued for most of Virginia by the Storm Prediction Center I had decent hopes for a productive chase today. The main fly in the ointment was the fact that I couldn't leave home until almost 3:30 for family reasons. And, of course, the storms didn't wait so I headed out into a major downpour.

Given the northeastward storm trajectories I chose to roll east on U.S. Rte 460 to Bedford in an attempt to get ahead of the convection. After splashing my way to Montvale the rain finally let up as I eased my way ahead of the activity. However, with the rain shaft literally in my rear view mirror it looked like I wasn't going to be able to get into position on the northern storms. Thus I chose to dive south and east from Bedford toward Rte 29 at Altavista in an attempt to intercept southern convection which was looking very robust.

But as I motored down Rte 43 in Bedford county I noticed a lowering to the north so I diverted onto a county road to catch a better view. The part of the storm near the town of Bedford was showing rotation on radar which correlated to this wall cloud:
Pushing further north on this road I caught another view of the feature across an open field:

Knowing that this storm was moving into tough chase territory near Lynchburg and still convinced that the southern storms were the better target I left this behind...much to my chagrin. When I reached Rte 29 the activity to the south had weakened and by the time I entered the Chatham area there were only a few remnant showers passing through. 

After a dinner stop I did conduct a brief reconnaissance around the Chatham area as a couple of updraft bases spit out some rain but nothing interesting looked imminent so I rolled homeward. Of course by sundown those updrafts had moved east of the South Boston / Halifax corridor and re-intensified into a strong line. And if I had stuck with the northern storms I could have continued eastward along Rte 460 as they remained strong.

Choices, choices...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Preview of coming attractions

Given the very strong cold front headed our way this week the next couple of days should feature some decent stormchasing. However when a storm went up just to the east of us this afternoon I couldn't resist heading to a nearby park to look. This is the overall view of the updraft:
Under the base was a lowering that was a bit difficult to detect given the haze:

And - of course -just after I took the above photos the storm became severe-warned and I "had" to go check it out...even tho' I really didn't want to. Jumping into the chasemobile I motored east along U.S. Route 460 to catch up with the back edge of the complex. Reaching the village of Montvale I pulled off the highway at a school sports complex amid the trailing raindrops of the storm. I never did see anything worthwhile since the rain had filled in completely underneath the cell but I did find some possible storm damage:

Now, for the real show tomorrow and Tuesday!!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

A Wednesday Three-fer

An approaching cold front and upper trough set the stage for chasing today with decent instability and shear. Convection began in earnest around the noon hour so I rolled out the driveway during the early afternoon, heading south toward Rocky Mount. Near Wirtz I pulled off Rte 220 to take a peek at radar and scope out the situation with the MK 1 eyeball. I promptly saw this cell to the southwest with a lowering to the left of the precipitation shaft:

Noticing on radar that a line of storms to the north showed decent rotation I decided to move northeast to Burnt Chimney for a look. My thinking was that even if those cells weren't worth the effort the cell approaching the Wirtz area was still catchable. But the view from BC looked pretty good so I stuck with the northern storms:
Rising scud on southern edge of storms

Overall view of the southern end
Keeping up with these storms proved problematic given the traffic on Rte 122 and then the twisting back roads I had to take in a vain attempt to keep up with the storm motion. I finally emerged onto the U.S. Route 29 corridor at Altavista with a dilemma on my hands: should I continue to chase the storms to my north or should I dive south to intercept a nice complex with indicated rotation nearing Chatham from the southwest?

Choosing the latter option I motored southward on rural roads in Pittsylvania county in order to reach Rte 40 ahead of the storm. I made it - barely - and then zoomed east and then south on the Cody Road (Rte 603) to get ahead of the storm for a look. I stopped for a bit in Republican Grove for a view of a wall cloud under the southern edge of the complex:

Given the overall storm motion right to left in front of me I was unable to stay here long before having to drop further down Cody Rd to reach U.S. Route 501 at Volens. From there I was unable to avoid the leading edge of heavy rain until just barely before reaching the town of Halifax. After a quick pit stop there I pushed a few miles east on Rte 360 to let the main part of the complex pass by in a static core punch.

Having noticed on radar another line of storms over the I-81 corridor I rolled back westward to Chatham and then turned north on Rte 29 to locate a vantage point. After poking around the countryside west of Rte 29 I found a spot to look west and north. From here I was able to record the approach of a monster shelf cloud via stills and video, as well as live streaming for the local TV station:
Northern edge of the shelf cloud

Western edge
As the leading edge of the shelf cloud passed overhead I snapped this photo:

I made no attempt to stay ahead of this storm and after the rain began I pulled up stakes to head home, satisfied with a three-fer for the day.