#vawx Update to Saturday night’s mayhem

Here on Tuesday afternoon I’ve realized a brief recap of the results of Saturday’s squall line – sorry, “QLCS” – would be in order. A decent chunk of southern Virginia was placed under a severe thunderstorm watch ahead of the line’s arrival, and just ahead of the convection a series of severe thunderstorm warnings were issued. I didn’t save the radar views or the text but the polygon that ended literally a couple miles west of here contained parts of the line of which the warning text indicated northeasterly cell motions of 85 mph with surface gusts up to 70 mph!

Fortunately that part of the squall line visibly weakened on radar reflectivity before it reached us and other than some heavy rain I didn’t notice anything unduly wild when the action arrived. There were a few trees and limbs downed not far from us, however, so the stronger winds must have been localized.

Meanwhile here’s the filtered SPC map of storm reports from that day:200111_rpts_filtered

Twenty-six tornadoes from an early January event is nothing to sneeze at, especially since there were injuries and fatalities reported.

#vawx Keeping a wary eye on a January setup

A spring-like setup in early January is bringing wild weather across the eastern half of the U.S. For our part here in Virginia the most concerning timeframe will be near and after midnight as the cold front/squall line passes across the state.

Here’s the RAP’s solution for the 925 mb (~2500′) wind field at midnight:RAPMA_925_spd_020

The red shading indicates >50 knots of wind not very far above the surface over most of the Old Dominion. Although there won’t be a lot of available instability at that time of night it would only take a couple hundred j/kg to create enough convection to mix down that energy to create strong straight line winds at the surface. (Thus the SPC Day 1 Marginal Risk!)

However, just as concerning is the amount of shear which could result in rotating storms and a nocturnal tornado or two. Here’s the NAM’s STP outlook for 1:00 a.m. (left) and 4:00 a.m. (right):

NAM STP at 06 and 09Z Sun

The NAM can “cry wolf” when it comes to potential convective setups but I’m hearkening back to the February 2016 outbreak when the NAM was closer to verifying than most other models for a high shear / low CAPE setup. (Granted, the 2016 setup involved a retreating wedge/warm front during daylight hours but still…)

Given those NAM STP depictions here’s the HRRR forecast updraft helicity track:HRRRMA_con_uphlysw_022

Thus there’s a concern for overnight tornadoes near the Blue Ridge mountains along with the potential for damaging straight line winds across the rest of Virginia. I may be awake later than normal tonight to keep an eye on the activity as it punches across the mountains…but I don’t plan to do any chasing. Darkness plus storms nearing interstate speed limits don’t add up to anything I’d like to do!

#vawx A January severe weather setup

Given this winter’s continued warm/cold clash over the central U.S. it would seem that the upcoming severe outbreak is inevitable. The SPC convective outlook shows an unusual Enhanced Risk on both Day 2 and Day 3 for severe weather over the South:day2otlk_0700day3otlk_0830

The upper level low that will kickstart the mayhem has just reached the West Coast this (Thursday) morning:COD-GOES-East-continental-conus.14.20200109.132617-over=map-bars=

Absolutely incredible low level shear values and abundant Gulf moisture transport will set the stage for a strong squall line (QLCS) along a cold front which will sweep eastward across the Gulf states. The tornado threat will be from circulations along breaks in the line plus possible discrete supercells that fire ahead of the front.

With regard to Virginia all the models are showing the cold front – and remnant QLCS -crossing the state after midnight Saturday. Low level and bulk shear values look very robust during that time period. The inevitable model disagreement is in just how much instability (CAPE) will be available during that time period. If there is a couple hundred joule/kg (or more) of mixed level CAPE hanging around Saturday night could feature some wild weather across the Old Dominion. Any convection could mix down strong straight line winds from the low level jet or even a few tornadoes in breaks along the front/QLCS.

So we’ll see just how the model solutions evolve over the next 48 hours. Would I chase late Saturday night? Not likely, given the darkness and low-topped storms (with little lightning) that will be screaming along at interstate highway speeds. The timing is all wrong for this setup to tempt me to get out and chase.

The 2018 winter solstice chase

In the run up to the Christmas holiday I forgot the one year anniversary of last year’s winter solstice chase. Here are a couple of pics from that day.

First, backlit showers near Smith Mountain Lake in Bedford county VA: backlit showers over SML

Then, a rainbow under a storm north of U.S. Route 460 moving toward the Blue Ridge Mountains:rainbow under storm base northern Bedford county

I’d have to check my chasing records but I believe this was the latest chase of any year since I started.

On to springtime 2020!!

Post-Chase Virginia Sunsets of the Decade

I’m on a roll with reminiscences of 2010s chases so here’s a sampling of post-chase sunsets here in the Old Dominion.

King George county April 5 2010:

5Apr10 KG county sunset


August 25 2011 Fredericksburg VA:

25Aug11 sunset after storm_r1


October 18 2012 from Brosville VA:

October 18 2012 sunset traffic on Route 58 copy


July 28 2013 from Brookneal VA:

Brookneal sunset 28Jul13


April 4 2014 looking west across Roanoke valley VA:

Roanoke airport sunset 4Apr14


April 10 2015 Bedford county VA:

April 10 2015


June 15 2016 from Wirtz VA:

sunset over Wirtz 15Jun16


May 1 2017 in Pittsylvania county VA:

1May17 backlit showers copy


March 17 2018 Franklin county:

Mar 17 2018 Franklin county


May 29 2019 near Glade Hill VA:

May 29 2019 sunset from near Glade Hill copy

These aren’t all spectacular but they are representative of the decade’s end-of-chase days.

Favorite non-tornado Plains chase photos from the 2010s

To round out the reminiscing from the decade of the 2010s here are a few of my favorite non-tornado photos from the Great Plains.

May 19 2011 in Wakita OK:19 May 2011 Wakita OK copy

May 30 2012 in the OK panhandle:May 30 2012 mammatus

May 30 2013 northeast of Guthrie OK:May 30 2013 stacked plates in OK copy

May 20 2014 in western NE:May 20 2014 Southern cell shelfing out

May 26 2015 north of Frederick OK:May 26 2015 OK sunset supercell copy

May 18 2018 near Quinter KS:May 18 2018 Quinter KS copy.JPG

June 10 2018 western South Dakota:10 June 2018 NW South Dakota_2 copy 2

All but the last photo were taken while chasing with the Virginia Tech Hokie Stormchasers. (The last one was during a personal chase.)

#vawx Representative photos from the 2010s Virginia chase seasons

I published these photos which represent each of the 2010s decade chase seasons on FB yesterday and decided it would be good to put them here as well.

October 27 2010 supercell and funnel southeast of Fredericksburg VA:Oct 27 2010 supercell

April 27 2011 Super Outbreak funnel (tornado?) north of Chancellorsville VA:Apr 27 2011

September 8 2012 shelf cloud over Brookneal VA airport:Sep 8 2012

May 11 2013 wall cloud southwest of Blackstone VA:May 11 2013 wallcloud_2

July 9 2014 awesome shelf cloud over rural Pittsylvania county:July 9 2014

September 12 2015 sneaky funnel over southeastern Pittsylvania county:12Sep 2015 funnel

Since 2016 was such an active year I had to post at least two photos. Left photo shows an April 28th wall cloud near Callands VA and right photo is a video frame grab from a near dark intercept on September 29th of a multi-vortex funnel just north of Union Hall VA:

Apr 28 and Sep 29 2016

July 5 2017 rotating supercell over Blue Ridge Mountains near Stuart VA:striated supercell July 5 2017

June 22 2018 wall cloud under storm over Bedford county VA which went tornado-warned shortly after this:22Jun 2018 wallcloud

May 12 2019 wall cloud under the third storm I intercepted that day. This was just west of Halifax VA:May 12 2019 wallcloud

As might be expected some years – especially 2016 – were more active than others. And I haven’t shown images of several tornado-warned storms I chased since (a) the photos weren’t very good or (b) the storms were rain-wrapped and impossible to see details. Such is the nature of Virginia storm chasing!