After a good night’s sleep my frustration at missing yesterday’s tornadic storms has quieted. I’ve realized that no one expected the magnitude of the outbreak so I’m not the only one caught unprepared for a wild October chase day in northern Virginia. Frankly I only expected one or two good cells to pop, so when I saw the tornado warned cell charging northward from Louisa county toward Culpeper I figured that was the storm of the day. I didn’t make arrangements for having mobile internet capability because I didn’t think I needed it…I just needed to get my tail to the Culpeper vicinity as fast as I could drive there through the afternoon traffic.

As it turned out, of course, there were a myriad of interesting storms yesterday afternoon. I found that out when I struggled through traffic to get west of Fredericksburg and noticed the wall cloud south of Route 3 that stopped me from my pursuit of the Culpeper storm. At the same time I was watching that cell I also noticed a wall cloud to my north that I now believe was the storm that provided the excitement on the University of Maryland campus later on. Here’s my evidence:

Photo of northern wall cloud at 2029Z

2030Z radar velocities

The orange star is my location, the yellow circle is the wall cloud circulation to my north, and the green circle is the tornadic portion of the Culpeper storm I was originally trying to get to.

2116Z radar velocities

The yellow circle is the same wall cloud circulation now in the Manassas vicinity (tornado warning issued at 5:07 pm included a mention of this storm). I tracked the circulation via a radar loop.

2233Z radar velocities

The yellow circle indicates the circulation near the University of Maryland campus at about the same time the University warnings were issued. Again I tracked the feature via radar loop which showed this cyclic cell continuing to develop new circulations on its right flank, thus providing the northeastern trajectory of the rotating area of the storm.

So now I feel a bit better about having witnessed one of yesterday’s possibly tornadic storms, even if I didn’t get any cool video of a tornado. But stormchasing to me is more than just catching tornadoes, and I still enjoyed the storm structures and the multiple wall clouds that I did intercept yesterday.

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