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The Ohio valley MCS did the trick today…it fired up cells ahead of it via ouflow and I caught the only severe-warned storm in the area! As the blogpost title says I haven’t been totally shut out this month!

Based on a backdoor wedge cold front near Lynchburg and morning model runs my original plan was to locate in southeastern Bedford county. However I stopped at the intersection of Rte 42 and 122 to watch and wait. There was little surface wind and the sun and humidity combined for a sticky feel.

After waiting there for 30 minutes or so I motored north about 4 miles to check out vantage points up that way. While stopped there I noticed the wind had swapped around to the northeast and felt cool. The front had pushed thru! Thus I dropped back south and wound up just south of Moneta where I planned to set up for a live stream during the 5 pm broadcast of the local TV station after an early dinner.

After the early – and quick – dinner I noted via radar that convection was crossing the Blue Ridge mountains, with a very robust cell moving east toward Bedford. I changed plans for the live stream and streaked north to another vantage point where I could see the storm approaching. Lightning was flashing and thunder was rumbling here, both music to my chaser-deprived senses. In fact just before the 5 pm broadcast I watched a bolt hit near the top of Sharp Top Mountain and totally light up something (antenna?).

The storm angled left-to-right in front of me, complete with shelf cloud:

Shelf cloud over playground

The storm in the background and the play equipment in the foreground made for a nice photo but this snapshot held more contrasts:

Storm, playground, and tombstones

About this time the storm went severe-warned, the only cell in the area to earn that distinction. As it neared my position the radar-indicated hail core visually took on a green tinge. The “greenage” isn’t really detectable in this picture but it was evident to the Mark 1 eyeball:

Approaching hail core

As I waited for the 5:30 end of the broadcast the storm got way too near for my liking. The pond in the above photo had whitecaps on it(!) and the rain/hail shaft was less than a half-mile away. Once I got the all-clear I hurriedly pulled up stakes to put some distance between me and the storm’s leading edge.

I wanted to get to the U.S. Rte 29 corridor to stay ahead of the action and continue the chase. However my sole viable route east to Rte 29 was overtaken by the storm’s core before I could use it. I wound up trapped by hills to the east and Smith Mountain Lake to the south. Since I had no good escape route I found another vantage point and live streamed for the top of the six o’clock broadcast (after ensuring that the hail core was not going to pound me into little quivering pieces).

By the time that was finished heavy rain had overtaken me. I briefly thought about punching east anyway but that would have meant traveling narrow curvy roads that had already seen a deluge of rain with more nipping at my heels. So I reluctantly called it a chase and headed home.

But I’m no longer 0 for April!!

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