With another day under an upper level cold pool I could see updrafts struggling to rise as I headed home from work, but I really didn’t plan to chase anything. However after dinner I noticed the sunlight dimming significantly and stepped outside to see a great-looking anvil cloud spreading our way out of the west, so I dutifully plopped down in front of the computer and brought up a radar image that showed a very nice storm complex heading our way at a leisurely pace. Giving in to the inevitable I gathered my chasing paraphernalia and pointed the chasemobile westward. As I pushed through the traffic around Central Park I could see a rain-free base on the southwest side of the storm and what looked like a wall cloud under it, but I couldn’t keep it in sight as I dropped onto River Road and wound my way through the trees. When I popped out onto Route 3 near Chancellorsville any uncertainty about a wallcloud was immediately dispelled, so I moved south on Old Plank Road and witnessed this:
While transiting through the trees on River Road my son had called about chasing; I hadn’t called him because I thought he had an evening meeting to attend but that had fallen through. Thus, he drove separately and met me after I had called in a wallcloud report to the Sterling WFO and then moved a half-mile or so further south to the next location:
The striations (indicating rotation of the entire updraft) and greenage were spectacular as were the accompanying CGs. We also could see a long “feeder” of moisture being sucked into the circulation from the rainshaft to the north:
I wasn’t able to capture a radar image near the time of these photos, but this image (from ~30 minutes prior) clearly shows rotation on this storm (inside the yellow circle):
Now faced with the option of staying in place (and possibly getting pounded by large hail) or attempting to stay ahead of the storm we chose the latter, heading south toward Todd’s Tavern. Given the lack of road options and the storm’s accelerating pace we weren’t successful and the rain – and some hail – caught up with us. The best part was saved for last, however, as we drove further south toward Spotsylvania Courthouse. Sitting at the light on the bypass just north of the courthouse we both watched the rain curtains cross the field in front of us and fill in dramatically in a couple of minutes, including the addition of what appeared to be a hail shaft. When the light changed we wound up core-punching the storm in heavy rain and hail that rendered close to zero visibility. It was neat, but we realized at that point we’d never be able to get ahead or south of the storm again so we called it off. Cool chase, only marred by some mechanical problems that my son had with his car…fortunately that came after the chase was over.