When the SPC listed Northern VA today as not only under a Slight Risk for severe weather but also with a 5% tornado probability I had my gear ready to go by lunchtime. Shear looked good, instability was excellent for the Mid-Atlantic, a prefrontal trough provided lift, and dewpoints had climbed to near 70 degrees F. Lacking a cap convection began firing east of the Blue Ridge much earlier than I’d expected from the short range models, so I headed to Bealeton at 1:30 pm in hopes of catching a solitary supercell (or two!). Unfortunately by the time I got into position the discrete cells with severe thunderstorm warnings had already begun the process of coalescing into a line so I was forced into an eastward cycle of retreat, watch, photograph, and retreat again.

Tiring of this I beat feet southeastward as quickly as I could along Fauquier and Stafford county rural routes until I reached the Stafford Regional Airport just off Interstate 95. There I was able to park, watch the line approach, and plan my next move. I saw plenty of scud and lowerings but nothing I could pin to a wall cloud. Meanwhile the storms’ intensity diminished as they moved eastward.

Line approaching Stafford Airport

As the rain approached I scooted eastward into King George county east of Fredericksburg, stopping at a quarry just off Virginia Route 3 where I watched the line approach. Again, I saw features that seemed to indicate preliminary storm organization but nothing materialized by the time the rain washed over me. It was a good chase but somewhat disappointing in that the potential for some rotating storms seemed to vanish before my very eyes.

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