To give my latest equipment suite a shakedown I headed out at 1400 today to catch some non-severe storms firing south of a front that stalled between here and Richmond. I ran into the northeastern portion of a large cell near Ashland and pulled off the road to use my new cellular modem to check radar. I found that the interesting part of the storm was still to the southwest, so I punched through the heavy rain amid the slow-moving interstate traffic and got south of the storm. I wound up near Cold Harbor where I found an open field that nicely framed an oncoming mesocyclone, shown in the photo above and circled in the doppler radar view. I set up my videocamera and let it run while I kept an eye on radar and snapped digital stills. As the storm approached the circulation tightened and an inflow band formed that can be seen in the photos below:

Some new software allowed me to view the radar signature of the storm as it developed a nice hail core, but I managed to stay out of that as I retreated south and east ahead of it. I finally gave up the chase in western New Kent county and headed home, arriving at 1800. Not bad for a “trial run”!