Given the Severe TS watch issued for the region just south and west of us I decided this afternoon was a good day to chase, altho’ I wasn’t excited about parking in a target spot based on my analysis of the local conditions. That would have meant sitting in the broiling sun and steamy humidity while waiting for storms to push across the mountains and refire over the Piedmont. So, I cheated…I went home and watched radar for an hour before heading westward into Orange county. Motoring west on Rte. 3 I noticed a large updraft and base to the southwest so I zoomed down Rte. 20 hoping for an intercept. It came sooner than I expected so I pulled off the highway at the Mine Road intersection and snapped this shot at 6:01 pm of what appeared to be an organizing wall cloud at the juncture of two separate cells:
When the rain approached I pulled back out onto Rte. 20 and retraced my steps northeastward, pleased that this cell was paralleling my path. I stopped a couple more times to observe this part of the storm but had to keep moving to stay ahead of the rain. Reaching Rte. 3 I moved back eastward and discovered the storm was close to paralleling that highway as well, so I was able to stay south of the rain shaft by diving onto the Old Plank Road and snapped this photo at 6:33 pm.
As I watched – relatively dryly – this feature grew and four minutes later (6:37 pm) put out a very funnel-like finger, but I watched closely and couldn’t determine if there was actually rotation or if this was just scud.
A quick review of the video hasn’t shown any rotation either, but I will examine that more closely a bit later. I was actually able to keep up with this cell for several more miles before I gave up amidst the ubiquitous Rte. 3 heavy traffic west of Fredericksburg.