Based on the model forecasts I left home for Culpeper early this afternoon and arrived there around 2:00 p.m. to await convection given the monster CAPE values (>6000!) in northern Virginia.  Turned out that I was a bit early as things didn’t start bubbling until 4:00, when several updrafts formed and almost immediately were tagged with hail icons on radar.  Fortunately they were moving slowly at around 15 knots so I didn’t have to make immediate decisions on where to go.  I wandered around the Culpeper vicinity for a while, stopping to watch a rain free base under the first cell to see if any lowerings would occur:

Nothing formed so I moved south along Route 522 to stay ahead of the developing line of storms as the cells coalesced until I realized that I could get far enough south on that highway to catch the “tail-end Charley” storm.  Stopping a few miles south of Unionville I watched that cell crawl in my direction as it exhibited another rain free base:

Nothing showed under this storm either as the rain shaft pounded down just a couple hundred yards to the north.  I had just about decided to pull back out onto Route 522 and head back north when this cell exploded with numerous CG’s (cloud-to-ground lightning) and hail started to fall.  The storm intensified literally over my head as I watched – and listened to – a ten minute hailfall that started with half-inch stones and wound up pile-driving my car with stones up to 1.5 inches in diameter:

The quarter (1″ diameter) is shown for comparison.

(Note:  my chasemobile actually has a few hail dents now…source of a chaser’s pride!)

After the very noisy hailfall finished I did head north and then back home, not wanting to chase that storm through the wilds of Spotsylvania county and around Lake Anna.  At home all was dry and storm-less, but a magnificent mammatus display near sunset made it all worthwhile:

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