With basically the same synoptic setup on Thursday Sept 29th as the prior day’s I knew I needed to get my body out chasing. I wasn’t at all disappointed.
I motored down the driveway shortly after 1 pm and headed south on U.S. Route 220 toward Martinsville. The shear and instability both looked robust in North Carolina and edging into southern Virginia so I targeted the U.S. Route 58 corridor. Heading west out of Martinsville on Rte 58 I pushed all the way to Stuart in a vain attempt to see over trees and ridge lines.
Finally falling back to a known vantage point southeast of Patrick Springs I turned off Rte 58 and pulled onto the edge of a west-facing field. This radar representation had me panting for a closer view:
Yes, folks, that is the radar hook echo that teased me to no end since I had no closer view that this:
I sat at this location live streaming for quite a while, maintaining a – distant – visual on the storm. The closest point of approach was roughly 6 miles.
Following an extended 4 pm news break on the local TV station I hurriedly departed in an attempt to regain position on this cell. Alas, it was steaming northward into mountainous terrain with few roads and even fewer vantage points. That was okay tho’ as I had my eye on another discrete supercell barging northward on a track somewhat east of the first one.
I spent some time roaming about the region southwest of Martinsville trying to find another decent viewing spot and failed. Thus I retreated to another known point by driving east on Rte 58 and then north on a rural road at Axton. Abundant farm and pasture lands there afforded a couple of spots from which to observe storm #2 pass directly over Martinsville.
This backlit photo shows a large wall cloud southwest of me:
Amazingly this second supercell also exhibited a hook echo:
The storm continued to cycle and headed almost due north so I jumped back into the chasemobile to keep up with it. Traveling along VA Route 57 to Callands and then via Sago Road I wound up positioned in the inflow notch rather close to the hook:
In fact this was a bit TOO close for comfort when I watched this funnel spin up under the wall cloud about a half mile south of me:
I was pretty sure at the time it was a funnel and I’ve verified it via dashcam video. I was prepared to swap directions and skedaddle out of there but the funnel and wall cloud weakened. Still, I didn’t stick around this location long!
Noting the cell’s steady northward trajectory I rolled in that direction along Snow Creek Rd to Penhook along VA Route 40. The hook echo was tracking a couple of miles west of town so I stopped and tried to photo/video but didn’t have a clear sightline. Also I noted that a THIRD supercell was steaming northward to the west of storm #2 so to avoid getting cut off I barely skirted the southern edge of storm #2 and pushed west to Union Hall.
Here I pulled off into a commercial parking lot and began videoing/filming again. Unfortunately it was now past sunset and daylight was fading quickly. Even so the action roughly a mile to my north underneath the rear of storm #2 riveted my attention:
This was a definite funnel (again per video examination) and as I continued watching it spun up at least 3 separate times. The circulation may have reached the ground (i.e. a tornado may have occurred) but I couldn’t verify that given the tree line and the failing light. Doing my civic duty I called in a report to NWS Blacksburg.
When this activity moved away and out of sight I moseyed across the parking lot and snapped a grainy nocturnal photo of the wall cloud underneath storm #3 that was approaching Rocky Mount:
And that was the end of a very fruitful day. I’ll have to say that Sept 28th and 29th of this year will go down as my best non-tropically induced autumn chases in Virginia.