Given the forecasts – including a 5% “See Text” from the SPC – and surface conditions today I decided at noon that chasing was worth a try. There were storms east and west of I-95 at that point, but the sky was clearing west of I-95 and was a better bet for discrete storms that I could actually see rather than being caught under the mushy overcast further east. So I headed out for Culpeper to intercept a growing line that was actually heading northwest, which was a bit weird, but they were pivoting around the upper level low out west. I stopped in Culpeper to update my situational awareness via a WiFi link since I am currently sans internet air card (a situation I plan to remedy next month). Radar showed me to be in “no man’s land”: there was a so-so storm to my southwest and a better storm to the east, but I couldn’t make both of them…a typical chaser’s dilemma. I decided the storm in Madison county was the better option so I dived southwest to catch that one, stopping off Rte 29 to see this:
The storm was moving left to right and I wanted to get closer as well as a better view so I left the main roads and wound up taking an excursion on the back roads of Culpeper county. I could catch tantalizing glimpses of what appeared to be a fully developed wall cloud but I never found a tree-free vista to stop and look until I wound up on Rte 522, stopping just north of Griffinsburg to witness this:
This picture was taken a few minutes after the following doppler radar frame which indicates rotation on the base of the cell:
I observed for a few minutes as “my” storm escaped over the Blue Ridge, and then I motored back to my WiFi spot in Culpeper only to find that a very nice hailstorm was pounding the countryside within spitting distance of my house. Grinding my teeth since I knew I couldn’t catch it (most cells had an average ground speed of 30+ knots) I stopped in a favored viewing spot east of Culpeper to watch a small line pass by with low-topped but rotating towers. Nothing else happened so I pulled up stakes and headed home, arriving to find yet another very nice storm pushing through Colonial Beach and Dahlgren…again, just out of my reach as I couldn’t have intercepted before it crossed the Potomac River. So close, yet so far!!