Literally at the end of a week-long vacation I traveled back home just ahead of today’s potent squall line. The line was associated with an explosively developing low pressure system and strong cold front that is currently pouring very cold air into Virginia. When the SPC posted 5% tornado probabilities this morning for a good chunk of the state I knew I needed to chase today. Unfortunately the overcast skies served to dampen the instability so by their mid-day outlook the SPC had backed off the tornado potential and instead emphasized the high wind likelihood.

Originally I planned to start the chase at a local Roanoke valley vantage point to watch the line approach and then head east toward Bedford. However the high winds before and during the squall line’s passage plus its 50+ mph forward motion made me realize that chasing today would mean driving highway speeds for hours with perhaps little or no chance to get out and observe. So I stayed put at my vantage point and let the winds and very little rain wash over me before heading home. I did take a couple of photos of which this is the “best”:

Looking west at the squall line approach
Storms in North Carolina – including one just north of the VA/NC border – were more vigorous with some radar-indicated rotation. This was due to the more abundant sunshine down that way that pumped up CAPE values.

As it turned out this was a decent dry run of my chase equipment and it all seemed to work appropriately. I have a few other items to add plus replace some batteries and I’ll be ready for the storms of 2014!!
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