Given that SDS is rampant this month while awaiting the spring severe season to kick off I thought I’d repost this northern Virginia chase account from 2005:
April 2 2005 Hailstorms
April chasing opened with a bang on the second day of the month when the Storm Prediction Center outlooked eastern Virginia for a slight risk of severe storms anda 5% tornado probability, a significant figure of merit for the Mid-Atlantic. The first action of the day was focused on a warm front lifting northward as I chased east of Fredericksburg during the late morning, catching only a glimpse of a small shelf cloud. After lunch I rendezvoused with my son in Thornburg where we parked his car and consolidated our gear into mine. From there we rolled west and then south on Virginia Route 208 underneath a low overcast, hoping that an approaching upper level pool of cold air would provide the impetus for some strong updrafts.
We covered only five miles of two lane macadam before breaking into brilliant sunshine, immediately glimpsing hard-knuckled convection boiling up to the south in response to the aforementioned cold pool. Our interception course led us across Lake Anna into Louisa county, and somewhere south of the metropolis of Mineral we gloried in our first pea-sized hailfall of the day. Continuing east and then south to stay with the most active cells we enthusiastically enjoyed three more hailfalls, one of which occurred with the sun shining and thus enabling the following cool photo:
Photo by Nathan White
In an attempt to keep up with the best convection we looped through the town of Louisa while tracking a feature that appeared at first to be a ragged wall cloud but was really another shelf cloud from an outflow-dominant storm. Not having mobile internet and thus without radar access we then miscalculated the convective line’s movement, thinking it was headed due north when it was quickly steaming northeastward. As a result we wound up out of position to catch up with a very interesting lowering at the back of the southernmost cell. However, we were afforded a great view of the overall storm structure and witnessed multiple rainbows while thoroughly enjoying ourselves.
Photo by Nathan White
The 5% tornado probability didn’t verify for us as we saw no funnels and heard no tornado reports but we really didn’t care. This early April chase proved to be one of the bright spots of an otherwise abysmal 2005 Virginia chase season. Serendipities come when they come!