Oppressive heat and humidity coupled with an approaching “cold” front plus a lee trough were enough to cause the SPC to issue a Marginal Risk for my typical chase area today (and a Slight Risk further north):
So just after early convection had already fired I picked up my chase partner at 1:30ish and headed south on U.S. Route 220 and turned east on VA Route 40 at Rocky Mount. We paused at Glade Hill to watch radar and await some definition. We kept an eye on billowing convection to our south and noticed a small pileus cap on this updraft near Martinsville:
This was part of a line of towers that appeared to be going up along a lee trough lined up from southwest to northeast. We finally decided to get ahead of this activity and pushed east on Rte 40 to Gretna.
Pausing there we noticed the chaotic nature of the storm bases while the radar signatures weakened considerably. At the same time a cluster back west near Rocky Mount began to look very energetic, spitting out numerous lightning strikes on radar. However with its generally eastward trajectory both Smith Mountain Lake and Smith Mountain itself were between us and this storm. Thus we made the command decision to bail north on U.S. Route 29 and get into position in northern Pittsylvania county ahead of the cell.
Before we reached our vantage point we came across this raccoon lying on the side of a rural road:
When these critters are out and about during daylight hours it’s not a good idea to mess with them and this guy acted like he wasn’t feeling good. We didn’t stop to help!
Reaching a vantage point just south of the metropolis of Hurt we pointed the chasemobile west to watch this convection approach and switched on the livestream. This, too, was now dissipating but we did see a small lowering under a new cell that built on the northern flank of the action:
After watching this for a while a stronger complex crossing I-81 just north of Roanoke caught our attention when it received a severe warning:
Plotting its movement we realized we had to scoot quickly northward to intercept. Thus we made our way back to Rte 29 and zoomed up to Yellow Branch where we turned east on VA Route 24. Passing through Rustburg we motored across U.S. Route 460 and made our way into northwestern Appomattox county.
We identified what turned out to be an awesome vantage point and parked for quite a while as we watched this complex stream by just to our north. This was our first view of a large precipitation shaft under the base:
As the action continued northeast we witnessed a large lowering gather under the base:
It didn’t appear to be rotating – and a review of a time lapse video verifies that – so I didn’t call it in as a wall cloud. A bit later another lowering really snapped our attention to it:
This also turned out to be a SLC (“Scary Looking Cloud”) that wasn’t rotating but it certainly looked like a wall cloud with a funnel dangling under it. This was the radar reflectivity and velocity view at the time:
The convection continued to build into a formidable line with strong outflow winds. We enjoyed the cool air rushing outward from the storms and watched as the moisture fed into the leading edge of a building shelf cloud:
When the precipitation approached we departed and wove our way between rain shafts down to the town of Appomattox.
Overall it was a very satisfactory 7/11 chase, even without the Slurpees!