An approaching cold front and upper trough set the stage for chasing today with decent instability and shear. Convection began in earnest around the noon hour so I rolled out the driveway during the early afternoon, heading south toward Rocky Mount. Near Wirtz I pulled off Rte 220 to take a peek at radar and scope out the situation with the MK 1 eyeball. I promptly saw this cell to the southwest with a lowering to the left of the precipitation shaft:

Noticing on radar that a line of storms to the north showed decent rotation I decided to move northeast to Burnt Chimney for a look. My thinking was that even if those cells weren’t worth the effort the cell approaching the Wirtz area was still catchable. But the view from BC looked pretty good so I stuck with the northern storms:
Rising scud on southern edge of storms

Overall view of the southern end

Keeping up with these storms proved problematic given the traffic on Rte 122 and then the twisting back roads I had to take in a vain attempt to keep up with the storm motion. I finally emerged onto the U.S. Route 29 corridor at Altavista with a dilemma on my hands: should I continue to chase the storms to my north or should I dive south to intercept a nice complex with indicated rotation nearing Chatham from the southwest?

Choosing the latter option I motored southward on rural roads in Pittsylvania county in order to reach Rte 40 ahead of the storm. I made it – barely – and then zoomed east and then south on the Cody Road (Rte 603) to get ahead of the storm for a look. I stopped for a bit in Republican Grove for a view of a wall cloud under the southern edge of the complex:

Given the overall storm motion right to left in front of me I was unable to stay here long before having to drop further down Cody Rd to reach U.S. Route 501 at Volens. From there I was unable to avoid the leading edge of heavy rain until just barely before reaching the town of Halifax. After a quick pit stop there I pushed a few miles east on Rte 360 to let the main part of the complex pass by in a static core punch.
Having noticed on radar another line of storms over the I-81 corridor I rolled back westward to Chatham and then turned north on Rte 29 to locate a vantage point. After poking around the countryside west of Rte 29 I found a spot to look west and north. From here I was able to record the approach of a monster shelf cloud via stills and video, as well as live streaming for the local TV station:
Northern edge of the shelf cloud

Western edge

As the leading edge of the shelf cloud passed overhead I snapped this photo:

I made no attempt to stay ahead of this storm and after the rain began I pulled up stakes to head home, satisfied with a three-fer for the day.
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