My expectations for today were rather low for several reasons, not the least of which was an arid airmass with dewpoints in the 40s. But with cold air moving in aloft – for steep lapse rates – and 0-6 km shear values in the insane range I couldn’t resist a short chase reconnaissance. Turns out that the SPC Marginal Risk was backed up by a Mesoscale Discussion during the early afternoon so my instincts weren’t all bad.
The initial forcing mechanism appeared to be an outflow boundary that fired weak convection earlier than I’d expected. Thus I wound up behind it as I motored east but that activity quickly waned. Determined to not go far I ventured to Bedford, dropping south on VA 122 and parking a few miles south of town to watch and wait. I sat for nearly 45 minutes and saw only a few weak showers dotting the gorgeous land- and cloudscape. Before I headed back toward home I snapped this photo looking north:
As I rolled back west I ran through the surface cold front. Behind it I could see convective towers bubbling in the colder air aloft. Instead of heading straight home I first stopped on a ridge top near Hollins University to watch (and livestream) a cell moving directly toward me.
Although picturesque and breezy the rain shaft was thin and there was no lightning or thunder with this cell. However behind it I could see more action so I moved to a favorite vantage point near a local park. I turned on the livestream again as another “storm” traversed the ridges to my west.
This cell too had vigorous outflow but exhibited no lightning or thunder as it moved northeast over Daleville. The back edge of the clouds offered a brilliant white contrast to the sunlit foreground:
As the wind continued to gust behind the front I motored on home knowing that the results had matched my expectations.