With plenty of moisture and instability and only a hint of shear I knew the Friday August 5th storms would be (a) slow-movers and (b) very wet. A weak upper level impulse pushing across the Appalachians provided the lift to get convection going. This was SPC’s Day 1 outlook:
Watching radar convinced me to depart home base at 1:15 pm and head to a local vantage point for a brief look-see. This was the view across the Roanoke valley a few minutes later:
With plenty of activity showing up east of the mountains I aimed the chasemobile toward Bedford along the U.S. Route 460 corridor. I actually detoured onto the Blue Ridge Parkway for a bit in an effort to take a look at the convection overhanging the Roanoke valley. Not seeing much, I did a U-turn with the chasemobile and got back onto Rte 460 eastbound. Towers were going up further east but I could also see their bases, meaning that action wasn’t very far from me. After a fuel stop in Bedford I decided to push over to the U.S. Route 29 corridor since the radar in that direction was lighting up like a Christmas tree.
Dropping south from Bedford on VA Route 122 I turned east on Route 24, then south on Route 43, merging onto Rte 29 at Altavista. I could see a plethora of storms both to the north and south of me and dithered a bit on which way to head. (Sometimes the hardest decision while chasing is which storm to pick!) A severe-warned complex was approaching the Danville vicinity at this time, but it was a very rainy, very slow-moving mess with little in the way to entice me to give chase.
Another cell had its precipitation already impinging on Rte 29 near Gretna, so I diverted east onto rural Pittsylvania county roads with the intention of continuing south to intercept that activity. However, as I drove along I could see a very active storm to my north, and caught a glimpse of a lowering under a rain-free base. That completely changed my target storm.
Switching directions I motored east and north along back roads to the Hurt vicinity but didn’t see much as the storm seemed to have cycled down. With this complex slowly pushing northeast I decided to roll eastward to the Long Island (VA) area where I thought I could get a decent view of it. While driving in that direction I paused in northern Pittsylvania county for this distant view of a definite lowering / possible wall cloud, evidence that this storm was cycling back up:
Finally reaching my chosen north route I sped toward Long Island, stopping at a known vantage point with this sight to my north:
This was the radar reflectivity and velocity view at the time:
This storm continued to cycle, as shown in this time-lapse .gif. The wall cloud on the right was swallowed by the precipitation shaft while a new wall cloud built south of it:
Wanting to keep an eye on this interesting storm I eventually maneuvered over to the U.S. 501 corridor where I turned north to arrive at the Brookneal / Campbell county airport. The complex had weakened by this time as shown on the radar:
Still, it kept my attention as the feature circled on this photo exhibited some weak rotation (mostly evident via time-lapse):
When this activity mostly died down to stratiform rain I pulled up stakes, heading west to Rte 29 where I again dropped south toward Gretna. There I stopped for a dinner break and to see what the remaining afternoon’s convection would amount to. With storms continuing to fire along the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge I pointed the chasemobile in that direction after my repast.
Arriving in the Rocky Mount area I jumped onto U.S. 220 northbound before diving off near Wirtz to use back roads to maneuver around a now-severe warned complex:
Tooling along rural routes I’d never been on before I wound up near Burnt Chimney. There I turned north on Rte 122 to parallel this convection in an attempt to get a look at any potential structure. Alas, Friday evening traffic near Smith Mountain Lake and an accelerating storm motion allowed me only brief glimpses as I pushed northward.
Pausing just south of Bedford I found myself inside the “whale’s mouth” as the complex became outflow dominant. It did provide some fascinating views of cloud motions from underneath the cloud deck, as well as interesting color-drained images:
When the heaviest precipitation finally moved north of Rte 460 I turned west toward home, driving through light rain. In Montvale I stopped to take in this view of the remnant ground fog:
All in all it was a satisfying August chase, especially considering I’d found a cyclic storm amid a generally low shear setup. Oh, and there was plenty of lightning to go around!