#vawx A Monday reward?

With a cold front pressing across Virginia Monday accompanied by decent moisture and upper level winds there is the potential for a chase. A GFS forecast sounding at Danville that afternoon shows enough CAPE and shear for at least a “Marginal Severe” rating. The NAM, however, is screaming this:

I suspect the GFS is closer to being right but at least there seems to be another May chase on the horizon. Watching and waiting…

#vawx May the Fourth was with me

On Tuesday May 4th the SPC had my chase area under a Marginal Risk. An overnight MCS traversing Tennessee and Kentucky had me worried about its effects on the potential storm setup.

It did affect things but didn’t quash the day’s convection. Instead, a new complex of storms blew up just southwest of Roanoke and steamrolled northeast. This was the radar view about the time I headed down the driveway. Note that a severe TS warning had been issued ahead of the complex.

Given the trajectory of the storms I chose to motor eastward on U.S. Route 460, stopping in Montvale for my first peek at things. I switched on the livestream here and kept an eye on radar.

When discrete cells kept forming ahead of the main complex I decided to retreat east along Rte 460 to stay ahead of the rain. I wound up rolling to Bedford and dropping south on VA Route 122 to a favorite vantage point. The first thing I noticed was a pronounced rain-free base over the Peaks of Otter to my northwest, with interesting lowerings occurring during the next several minutes.

But the main attention-grabber was a developing shelf cloud southwest of me, the outgrowth of the storm complex which had blasted the Roanoke valley with high winds. This was the last image I snapped of that feature before jumping back into the chasemobile to clamber out of its way.

I knew I was cutting it close, especially given the surprising amount of traffic on Rte 122 as I egressed northward. This livestream image capture is from that somewhat nail-biting journey back to Bedford:

Before reaching the Rte 460 on-ramp to motor eastward the very strong winds hit. I had to swerve to miss the top end of a large tree branch that came down on the side of the roadway just as I drove by. Finally on 460 I was able to gradually pull ahead of the outflow. Given the amazing coloration and features I glimpsed while escaping to the east I turned onto a side road for a very short stop to snap a photo of the southern end of the line:

Given the velocity vector of this complex I made a snap decision – typical during a solo chase when one is faced with doing everything – to continue toward Lynchburg. On the outskirts of the city I ducked south on back roads, stopping briefly for this photo:

Emerging onto U.S. Route 29 south of the airport I turned east again and wound up at my last location a few miles west of Rustburg. The southern end of the line had intensified by this time and was severe-warned for high winds:

I conducted a “static core punch” at this location, allowing the brief burst of strong winds, rain, and a few small hailstones (which I heard but never saw) to wash over me. After the leading edge passed by I had this nice view from inside the “whale’s mouth”:

After conditions had calmed a bit I turned toward home. But having witnessed the power of the outflow winds I decided that a southern route was in order just in case there was damage on Rte 460 (there was). So I dropped south on Rte 29 to Altavista and turned west from there on dry roads with no evidence a storm had passed by.

All in all it was a much more enjoyable time than Monday’s (5/3) bust. But these storm complexes and shelf clouds aren’t really the kind of chasing I look forward to, mainly because I’m the one being chased!

#vawx BUSTed on May 3rd

No chase writeup from today’s bust…morning convection stabilized the atmosphere over my entire chase area. I did make a half-hearted attempt to intercept convection moving northeast out of NC but this is what it looked like on radar:

Although there was a tornado warning on the southern end of this blobby mess it was south of Asheboro NC and heading toward Raleigh…well out of my desirable chase territory.

Tomorrow I’ll be watching radar intently before rolling down the driveway,.

#vawx Next week still looking enticing

Now that the NAM has come into range of Monday it too is showing convective promise for Virginia on Monday May 3rd:

Moisture, shear, and instability all look to be in place for convection Monday afternoon. A trigger isn’t obvious, however, although there is a hint of a lee trough which would fire storms.

Either way I’m ready for more chasing to kick off here in the Old Dominion. Monday, Tuesday, and perhaps Wednesday all look like candidates to dust off the chase gear and head back out on the road. We’ll keep an eye on it and watch the CAMs come into range with great anticipation.

#vawx Anniversaries and a look ahead

Yesterday – April 27th – was the 10th anniversary of the worst day of the 2011 tornado outbreak across the Deep South and the Mid-Atlantic. I did chase that day and saw a couple of funnels in the Fredericksburg VA area, one of which may have been a tornado. Meanwhile today is the anniversary of the F-4 tornado which ravaged southern Maryland in 2002. That occurred on a Sunday, and the next morning I drove through La Plata on the way north to a meeting in Washington DC. U.S. Route 301 had been reopened only a few hours beforehand, and the tornado’s damage path was very evident as I motored slowly through the commercial sector.

Switching to a look ahead the April hiatus from severe weather here in the Old Dominion may finally end next week. Over the past few days the GFS has consistently pointed to sufficient moisture return and upper level dynamics for some severe stuff on Tuesday May 4th, with Monday 5/3 looking possibly like “the day before the day”.

Here’s the 0-3 km EHI graphic at 21Z Monday:

And here’s the same parameter at 21Z Tuesday:

Thus Monday could be a Southside VA chase if there’s enough of a convective trigger. Meanwhile Tuesday provides hope for the SDS-afflicted soul. We’ll see.

#vawx An April pause

The last half of April has turned into an extended hiatus for Mid-Atlantic severe weather chances. That’s not unusual in this part of the country, but snow showers on April 21st aren’t typical either!

The next potential round of severe weather could be on the last day of the month, Friday April 30th. The GFS shows this cutoff upper air low which would provide moisture, shear, and an upper level cold pool:

However the 0Z Euro run from last evening for the same timeframe is completely different. It does indicate a surface cold front crossing Virginia that afternoon so that’s something. Either way that’s too far out to count on any model solution being accurate, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile the 10th anniversary of 4/27/2011 is coming up next Tuesday. I’ll post something on my chase experience that day, hopefully more than just a reposting of the blog entry.