For some reason either Blogger or I was being stupid last night (probably both) and nothing would work right so I posted a mini-writeup for our May 6th chase over on the Virginia Storm Chasing page on Facebook. The overall summary was that we were stuck in between two lines of storms, winding up chasing two separate cells that died in front of us.
Today – May 7th – I somewhat avenged that frustration but only after several hours of more frustration. I had been watching today’s setup on the models and concluded that today could be a “sleeper” for severe weather especially in the Richmond area on the northeastern side of the slow moving upper level low. The Storm Prediction Center only half-heartedly agreed with my assessment, assigning a “See Text” to parts of Virginia. Given the setup I originally targeted the western Richmond suburbs and headed in that direction late morning on a solo chase.
For several reasons I decided to break off that target even though conditions there were juicier than other place in Virginia. The tail end of another convective band rotating northwestward around the upper level low was hanging just north of Rte 460 in Appomattox county with new cells continually forming at its eastern end. That finally tempted me enough to stop heading east and plunge northward instead, grabbing a late lunch in Appomattox itself while watching convection build all around me. I wandered around the general area observing the convection, sorely tempted to push northward to chase a cell that dropped inch-sized hail over Nelson County. After realizing that doing so would push me back under very murky conditions I decided against that option.
I checked the radar again and noticed cells lighting up to my south. So I rolled down a couple of rural roads to get back to Rte 29 south of Lynchburg and used the highway speeds to arrive in the Altavista area just ahead of a building storm. Dropping just south of town I pulled off the highway at the Motley exit just in time to photograph this funnel and wall cloud to my east:
|Overall wall cloud and funnel|
|Closeup of funnel|
The position of the funnel with respect to what I took to be the wall cloud (the lowering to the left of the top photo) threw me for a bit until I realized that, indeed, I was seeing a sunlit white funnel and not just scud.
I quickly set up my video camera and took more stills but didn’t see any more photos. When the rain pushed in I left and headed back north (again, that weird northwestward storm motion) to attempt to get position on this cell again. It took me a while to do so and find a spot from which I could watch and photograph, and in doing so I wound up almost underneath the wall cloud:
After this point the cells merged into a line and I gave up on the chase, content to trail the line back home. May 6th avenged!