Given a steamy airmass over Virginia, a strong cold front approaching from the west, and significant upper level support providing plenty of shear I was very hopeful for a fruitful chase yesterday (Sunday 7/27). The only flies in the ointment I could see ahead of time were (a) an SPC Moderate Risk outlook for the region just west of my chase area and (b) the potential for morning rainfall (possibly as an MCS). The former “fly” seems to always be a downer on my chase chances as Moderate Risks and I don’t get along very well. Unfortunately the latter “fly” has the same effect on chasing here in the Old Dominion as the atmosphere rarely has time and space to destabilize again before sunset.
Given the juicy airmass in place I headed east before noon to get in place in the Piedmont ahead of the mid-morning showers. I was hopeful that a decent storm or two would pop along any outflow boundary that might form but I saw nothing but stratiform rain and overcast. The rain departed to the east but the overcast remained behind…for most of the rest of the day. That was the nail in the coffin for afternoon or evening convection even though the shear was robust and surface-based instability was acceptable for storms. The cap just never broke.
I hung around the Rte 29 corridor all afternoon into the evening, even cheering on a weak line of cumulus that built just west of my location. I wasn’t alone as Bill Hark – a well known chaser from Richmond – parked 25 minutes south of me in Danville awaiting storms as well. My son joined me for a bit in a futile wait for something to chase. By this time I knew better than to expect a widespread outbreak but I was hopeful that one or two cells might go up, tap into the abundant shear, and begin rotating. I was also wary of giving up too soon and missing the storm of the day, having done that during previous chases!
When it became glaringly obvious that all the severe action was focused on far southwestern VA, eastern TN, and northwestern NC (places I choose not to chase) with NOTHING likely to occur in my chase region I finally gave up and returned home just before sunset. The best thing about the entire day was that I was able to eat dinner with my son and his family. Time with kids and grandkids is always well-spent!!