#vawx Not noting much post-Nate action



Despite leaving behind despicably high dewpoints the remnants of Nate haven’t produced anything chaseable here in Virginia. On the other hand upstate North and South Carolina had plenty of activity Sunday:171008_rpts

Today the air is still juicy and there’s a stationary front wavering near the Virginia / North Carolina line. However there aren’t any real convective triggers and the 700 mb temperatures are pretty warm so any updrafts will likely be stunted. The day 1 SPC convective outlook isn’t optimistic for anything severe here in the Old Dominion:day1otlk_1300


According to both the NAM and the GFS tomorrow – Wednesday – could bring some strong to severe convection across the southern parts of Virginia as another cold front sweeps in from the west. So far, however, the short range convective allowing models aren’t buying into that idea. Neither is the SPC as evidenced in their current day 2 outlook:day2otlk_0600.gif

I’ll reserve judgement on tomorrow until…well, tomorrow. Meanwhile I’ll make a final call on today’s potential by noon.


#vawx Tropically-induced October chase?


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Given the currently predicted track of Tropical Storm Nate there appears to be a window of opportunity Monday October 9th for a chase involving tropical remnants.233552_5day_cone_no_line_and_wind

With Virginia on the east side of the predicted track of the center the moisture and helicity values may just make Monday worth considering. Of course it will probably be a high shear / low CAPE chase but this type of setup has paid off in past chases. I will be monitoring developments on the models over the weekend.

And if Monday doesn’t pan out Wednesday just might if a forecast cold front comes through during the heating of the day. Either way it looks like I can dust off the chasing equipment again before the 2017 season is finally in the books.

#vawx Another one year anniversary

And of course if I’m reminiscing about 2016 Virginia storm chase season anniversaries I have to mention the September 29th hook echo spectacular, complete with a multivortex funnel near Smith Mountain Lake in Franklin county.

These two photos are screen grabs from my dashcam. It was almost dark and the still photos I attempted were of no use. This funnel was a mile or two north of my location just off VA Route 40 in Union Hall.

Sep 29 2016 Union Hall funnels frame grab

Sep 29 2016 Union Hall funnels frame grab_4

The video can be viewed at this link.


#vawx A one year anniversary of a long but productive chase



One year ago today I put 300+ miles on the chasemobile in a 9 hour chase during which I wound up intercepting this wall cloud just west of Clarksville:clarksville-wallcoud_2_cg

This was one of two wall clouds I observed that day while dodging hail cores from very strong discrete cells. Curiously that chase – and the next day’s – didn’t involve any tropical remnants which is typically what provides the parameters for rotating storms this time of year.

The main reason for this post is that the 2017 Virginia chase season seems to have abruptly concluded and I needed the reminder of what storms look like. Despite the very active 2017 Atlantic hurricane season we haven’t seen any rain for quite a while, much less thunderstorms. Tropical stuff is usually what breaks a late summer / early fall drought in the Old Dominion but the dry conditions don’t look like they’ll ease anytime soon.

Of course in past years I haven’t completely thrown in the chasing towel until Veterans Day…but I’m not sold on that idea for 2017.

#vawx Not a “real” chase but local spotting today


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With today’s parameters not being particularly ballistic (small amounts of CAPE, almost no shear) I had no illusions about chasing. However indications on short term models were that storms would go up over the mountains and quickly rain themselves out…i.e. “whack-a-mole” cells. And that’s exactly what happened.

A little after 1:00 pm thunder rang out from a storm building just north of the house so I rolled down the driveway to a local vantage point. As the cell rained itself out interesting patterns of rain and sunshine played over the ridgelines to the north and west:sun and rain

Aside from some more thunder nothing particularly noteworthy happened. But the day was quiet and the storms were moving very slowly. Watching updrafts go straight up over the valley and then lean over as they encountered southeasterly winds at height was a pleasant way to spend a few minutes:upper level shear

When I headed back home I noticed more cells building to the west so I dragged out a lawn chair and sat in my driveway watching them track by at a glacial pace. Finally getting too warm I wandered indoors and relaxed for a bit until yet another storm built noisily to the north. This one had a severe warning on it with a nice visual hail shaft:hail shaft over Tinker Mtn

I moved north a couple of miles to a hilltop vista where I caught sight of a rain/hail bow:Hailbow_1

When this storm faded I rolled back home for dinner but Mother Nature wasn’t done yet. Another updraft growing to the west was nicely backlit by the sun:southern cell

And that was it.

#vawx Little or no chasing action apparent for September



September is now halfway finished and the prospects for another chase this month seem remote. Unless a tropically induced opportunity presents itself the long wave pattern doesn’t look conducive to any more decent thunderstorm setups here in the Old Dominion.

Having said that the tropics are very active at the moment:two_atl_0d0

If any of these (or other) systems push west of the Appalachians there’s always a chance of a tropical remnant chase here in Virginia. Thus I’m not giving up on September yet…it just doesn’t look good at the moment.

#vawx Unwarranted interest in an early September cold front


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With a strong cold front pushing across the Appalachians into a moist air mass I was at least moderately interested in today’s setup, especially with a digging trough providing 35 knots or so of 0-6 km shear. Given that short term models were showing convective initiation ahead of the main line I left home just before 1:30 pm for the Rocky Mount vicinity.

Stopping in Wirtz to recalibrate my situational awareness I noticed an updraft building over the ridge line just to the west. As it was traversing southwest to northeast I motored to the Burnt Chimney area to check out the southern end. It didn’t show any promise but several short line segments were building further to the southwest. I backtracked to the VA Route 40 corridor to check one out. After maneuvering around a bit I found a spot east of Rocky Mount to watch a shelf cloud appear out of the murky visibility.shelf cloud over Rocky Mount

When the rain approached I retreated east to a spot where I could watch the coalescing line approach, complete with a rain-free base as I live-streamed for the 4 pm newscast of the local TV station.rain and rain free base near Glade Hill

Continuing east from this spot I kept just ahead of the rain but unfortunately this activity weakened considerably. I rolled south toward Martinsville to check out more cells rolling northward out of North Carolina. Also unfortunately they all – without exception – died quick deaths once they crossed over the Virginia border. I suspect that had a lot to do with a prevailing overcast in southern Virginia that wasn’t present further south.

And that was it. Next up: Irma remnants?

#vawx Any Virginia effects from Harvey?


UPDATE (Sunday 9/3 10:52 pm): Nope. “Da Wedge” held tight yesterday and nothing fired. No SPC storm reports from the East Coast whatsoever. Next up: cold front passage Tues/Wed.


UPDATE (Thursday 8/31 10:30 pm): Given more model updates any chase opportunities would come Saturday afternoon, likely near the VA/NC border and east of South Boston. The wedge/warm front looks like it will lift northward with a pivot point somewhere near Clarksville VA. ┬áStill pretty iffy but I’m be watching models closely tomorrow.


The astounding rain totals across the Gulf Coast from Harvey just boggle the mind. Thoughts, prayers, and relief help are all needed in that direction over the next several months.

Meanwhile the question arises as to what – if any – effects will Harvey bring to Virginia? Looking ahead at the Weather Prediction Center 5 day forecast map shows the circulation center straddling the Indiana/Kentucky border on Sunday (9/3) morning;9lhwbg_conus

A check of the last 3 GFS runs (18Z Monday and 0Z & 6Z today) shows a progressively further north and east positioning of this circulation center, with the 6Z run basically agreeing with the WPC projection. So a look at the 6Z GFS 500 mb vorticity parameter for 21Z Sunday afternoon reveals this:GFSMA_500_avort_135

The remnants of Harvey look to have sheared into a shortwave across Virginia. Given a southwesterly surface flow returning warmth and moisture into the Old Dominion the uplift provided by this shortwave could very well lead to a chasing opportunity Sunday afternoon.

At this point it doesn’t look like a ballistic setup but there could be enough potential to warrant a Labor Day weekend chase. We’ll see.

#vawx A Friday multistorm event


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Friday August 18th had been looking good per the models for several days before the SPC issued its Slight/Marginal Risk Day 1 outlook covering Virginia:VA_swody1

The Slight Risk over far northeastern sections of the state was prompted by stronger shear levels up that way and – in fact – almost provides the exact outline of a Severe Thunderstorm Watch that was issued a few hours later.

A very oppressive airmass with temperatures in the 90s and dew points in the mid- and upper 70s was draped across the Old Dominion as a cold front approached out of the Ohio Valley. A lee trough east of the Blue Ridge was forecast to set up after the lunch hour so I dutifully headed out of town for Bedford just after 1 pm. (I should also mention that the KFCX Blacksburg radar was still down so I was forced to bounce between the Charleston WV, Raleigh NC, and Wakefield VA sites for radar data.)

My plan upon arriving there around 2 pm was to sit tight at a park and await convection that was supposed to fire within an hour or two. However after a quick bathroom break I noticed this updraft along with others boiling upward further east:updraft east of Bedford

The lee trough was evidently still east of me so I maneuvered further east and south via back roads into rural Bedford county. I watched from almost underneath the trough as several showers developed but nothing really took off. I wound up ambling over to Altavista via VA Route 43 and camped out east of US Route 29 in northern Pittsylvania county. Here I could see updraft bases lined up along the lee trough stretching southwest to northeast along my line of sight.

Even after 4 pm none of the visible cells were exhibiting any signs of development beyond the light shower stage. However there were both visible and radar hints that a cell at the southern end of a broken line segment – Tail End Charlie – was growing. Thus I rolled southward along rural routes to a point just east of Gretna where I had this combined visible/radar view:

After switching on the livestream and watching for a bit I noticed some activity under the rain-free base just north of the southern rain shaft:first hint of a lowering

The hints of gathering scud looked like a moisture feed from the rain shaft to the north and very much resembled a small but growing wall cloud especially when I zoomed in on it:Initial lowering up close

Within a very few minutes the feature had grown to this size but also appeared to be connected to a developing shelf cloud to its south:lowering a few minutes later The available radar views were of no help since none of them could image the storm at this low elevation given their distances. Thus I am left to speculate that this could have been another hybrid shelf/wall cloud feature in its early stages.

When the rain approached I retreated a couple miles east for this view:after relocating

The cell had intensified quite a bit at this point and was spitting out CGs at regular intervals. As it continued left-to-right in front of me the lowering on the northern edge dissipated and the feature morphed into an obvious shelf cloud. I continued another mile or so east to keep an eye on it but after a few more minutes this cell began dissipating both visually and on radar.

Knowing that more storms were approaching the Rte 29 corridor south of me I pushed west into Gretna for a brief food and comfort stop before dropping south. A couple miles north of Chatham I paused to observe and snap a few photos before reversing directions to zoom north on Rte 29 and then turn east on a county route to get ahead of a line segment. Near the hamlet of Sheva I stopped in a church parking lot to watch and snap more photos:

As the rain from this complex approached I resolved to conduct a “static core punch” and let this activity pass me by. Just before the rain hit I had this lateral view of the approaching rain curtain:Almost under the shelf storm #2

After the bulk of the heavy rain – no hail – passed I pulled up stakes and left for home. Along the way I had to pause just north of Rocky Mount on US Route 220 to snap a few photos of the sunset:Sunset N of Rocky Mount

All-in-all it was very enjoyable chase!

#vawx 0 for four, batting .000 on a Thursday



I wasn’t overly optimistic about today’s setup but I chased since I had the time, my chase partner was available, and there would most definitely be storms despite my concerns about a strong cap. I rolled down the driveway about 2:20, picked up my partner, and headed south on U.S. Route 220 toward Rocky Mount. We paused near Wirtz to check neighboring radars (Blacksburg KFCX is still on the fritz) and scan the skies with the MK 1 eyeball.

Given the visible anvil plus an encouraging radar signature of a cell moving east from Stuart we continued south on Rte 220. We briefly reconnoitered west on U.S. Route 58 but by this time that cell (dead storm #1) was falling apart. I wasn’t wild about straying too far east of the mountains and their available uplift but more convection was visible north and east of us. Thus we pushed east on Rte 58 and then diverted north on U.S. Route 29 at Danville to approached a cell in the Chatham/Gretna area.

However by the time we reached Chatham that updraft had also dissipated (dead storm #2) so we motored further north to a dinner stop just south of the Lynchburg area. More storms were firing both to the west over Bedford county and east over Appomattox county. Keeping with my desire to stick close to the mountains we made our way along back roads after our quick repast to emerge west of Lynchburg on U.S. Route 460. However by the time we neared the activity over Bedford county it too was falling apart (dead storm #3).

Given that new convection was firing over the Roanoke valley and moving east-northeast we pushed west to Montvale to fill the chasemobile’s gas tank before diving south on rural roads. Before killing storm #4 we came across several photo-worthy scenes as the sun sank toward the western horizon:sunset valley view

A bit further south we had this view of storm #4:updraft over Blue Ridge

Finally reaching VA Route 24 we turned west toward Roanoke and were rewarded with some very nice sunlit updraft scenes:

We wound up 0 for 4 but enjoyed cruising the countryside and seeing the sights. Next up is a good hard look at Friday’s setup to see if it’s worth chasing.