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When is a chase a REAL chase? When the storm you’re after actually pulls away from you even when the chasemobile is at highway speeds.

That’s what happened to us today…and “us” refers to the fact that I caught up and chased with 3 Virginia Tech students (aka Hokie Stormchasers) most of the day. Under an SPC Slight Risk for severe weather we waited in the Danville vicinity for the cold air damming wedge to break and skies to clear. The former happened but the latter didn’t. Even so we were rewarded with a couple of cells that went up in North Carolina and moved east-northeast toward us.

After poking southwest to take a look at the lead cell – which had a small mammatus field under its anvil – we moved back north to stay ahead of the developing complex. Unfortunately the storm had other ideas, building on its northern edge while quickly steaming eastward. The resulting vector made it virtually impossible for us to stay in decent chase position on the storm.

We did manage a brief stop in Pittsylvania county just ahead of the rain shaft to take a closer look at the trailing rain-free base:

Trevor and the storm base

Unfortunately the rain caught us. The storm accelerated on an east-northeast trajectory while we were confined to more north and east road options. The upshot was that it got ahead of us and we were stuck in a tail chase. We never regained our position on the complex even though we could see some interesting features both visually and on radar as the convection interacted with a boundary (possibly the warm front). Those features kept us following the storms pretty far east.

Finally calling off the pursuit north of Victoria we rolled north to US Route 460 at Crewe. With convection visible to the west – associated with the cold front itself – we turned in that direction. Just east of Farmville we jogged north on U.S. Route 15 to watch the southern edge of a line segment where I took this photo:

Storm N of Farmville

At this point I parted ways with the Hokies and motored back toward home. Along the way the sunset was too gorgeous to pass up so I stopped and snapped this photo:

Mtn sunset panorama

Closer to the town of Bedford I pulled onto a rural side road and took this picture a few minutes later:

Sunset silhouette

So today wasn’t a bust, but it wasn’t as productive as it originally appeared to be.