Today held some promise of chaseable cells per several short term forecast models. This afternoon’s potential action didn’t look as ballistic as modeled evening convection did (supported by an upper air disturbance) but the latter looked to come through well after my bedtime.
The SPC had laid on a Marginal Risk across areas west of U.S. Route 29 in Virginia:
Unfortunately a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) had pushed across eastern Kentucky and Tennessee overnight, leaving behind a high cloud layer over much of southwest Virginia which inhibited insolation and reduced the already meager instability.
Thus I watched a mostly empty radar during the early afternoon, finally deciding to roll down the driveway after stepping outside and seeing a robust updraft crossing just north of the Roanoke valley. The cell – I hesitate to use the term “storm” – headed almost due east and I wound up pausing near the hamlet of Montvale to watch as it steamed by north of me:
It didn’t look like it would develop any further so I continued east to the town of Bedford to take a peek at some other growing updrafts. After a quick stop there I dropped south on VA Route 122 a few miles and then diverted east onto a rural Bedford county road to observe. This was the most robust updraft I could see anywhere around:
I sat here for a few minutes with a vulture circling overhead(!) before conducting a rolling reconnaissance further south and east, winding up at a favored vantage point in eastern Bedford county. From here it was painfully obvious that nothing much was going to happen this afternoon so I pointed the chasemobile toward home.
Stopping at Staunton River High School to dismantle and pack away the chase gear I noticed the surface winds were now northwesterly vs. the southerly breezes I’d left behind. Also the clouds west of me looked pretty ragged but peeking back east I saw this:
I had obviously crossed a boundary and the northwesterly downslope winds were drying out the atmosphere. For a brief moment I was tempted to swap directions and await further developments but the setup just didn’t feel good enough. I wound up being right since only weak radar echoes showed up later in the afternoon.
An MCS-related bust is no stranger to anyone who’s chased much…but it’s still aggravating!