February is always difficult for us storm chasers here in Virginia. It has usually been several months since the last chase and spring chasing may or may not kick off in March. But there are rare opportunities to get out and shake off the dust when an early season setup looks decent.

Here is a photo from a Feb 4th 2006 chase in the Richmond vicinity under an SPC Slight Risk that contained a 2-5% tornado risk:

This lowering just north of the I-295 corridor led us into rural areas north of the metro area between I-95 and U.S. Rte 301. Other than a pretty sunset we didn’t see any more detail than what this photo shows but it was a chase!

This photo is from Feb 28th 2011:

This chase, taken near Lignum just of VA Rte 3,  actually occurred under a tornado watch. Cloud depths weren’t enough for lightning and the most active part of squall this line headed north into areas I couldn’t easily follow. I did continue east on Rte 3, stopping several times and winding up in Essex county on U.S. Rte 17 as the front blew thru.

So there is (faint) hope for chasing in February…but I know better than to count on one. Still, most years hold at least one March chase so maybe the season’s kickoff isn’t far off!

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