The SPC didn’t think Northern VA had enough atmospheric “ooomph” (that’s a technical term) for severe weather today, but when I noticed that a dissipating warm front was hanging around east of I-95 my severe weather antenna perked up as I knew the resulting shear could pump up a supercell or two. I had hopes for convection today anyway so I went to Thornburg around 1:15 pm to check out some showers moving northeastward from the Richmond area, but they wound up escaping into eastern VA territory that I hesitate to chase in given the abundant treelines and randomly inconvenient roads. Casting about for where to go next I picked up a WiFi signal and found that a line was beginning to build near the Blue Ridge mountains so I cruised up I-95 and picked my way through the typically awful traffic on westbound Route 3, arriving at a Culpeper county viewing spot to watch the southern end of the line build.
As this cell approached and threw rain at me I moved north a few miles to the Culpeper airport to witness another cell begin to get its act together and exhibit minor rotation near a flanking line.
Determined to keep up with the line as it neared the weak warm front east of I-95 I motored north to Remington and then southeastward on rural Fauquier county roads, keeping just behind the rain/hail shaft and watching nearby updrafts and bases for more rotation signs. When I finally popped out on Route 17 southbound I wasn’t able to avoid the rain so I pulled off and phoned my son for a nowcast. He indicated that the section of the line I was tracking was coalescing around a radar-indicated mesocyclone and I got pumped about doing a core punch! Unfortunately reality set in as I got within a couple miles of the I-95 interchange as traffic came to a dead stop. I ducked off on a side road, pulled into a shopping center, and saw what appeared to be a wall cloud.
As this part of the storm moved eastward I struggled to plow my way through the burgeoning traffic to no avail, losing a good 20-30 minutes in my trek to catch up with the line. I finished up in King George county watching another cell to my south as it transited my windshield, knowing I had lost too much time. When I arrived home I found that the section of the line I had originally been following had produced a waterspout over the Potomac River just across from King George county. Foiled again by traffic!