Amid this past Monday’s chasing activity I failed to post anything other than a quick mention of the 9 year anniversary of a Virginia tornado intercept.

On May 11th 2006 I was on a family chase (my son, daughter, and I) in Spotsylvania county on a day when all the parameters looked favorable for tornadoes. We wound up intercepting a tornadic cell in the wilds of southwestern Spotsylvania with limited visibility and a sparse road network (not a recommended activity). Finally pushing north to a Civil War battlefield site at Todds Tavern we pulled off into an unpaved parking lot overlooking a field to the west.

With a storm grumbling to our north I figured we had lost the chance to intercept the tornado. My son and I exited the vehicle for a couple of minutes to look around and I suddenly noticed rain curtains rotating left-to-right over the field. A tornado then popped out from behind a treeline less than 200 yards from us:


Not at all certain which direction it was heading we both dove back into the vehicle – with me snapping a couple of blurry photos while doing so – and left a roostertail of gravel behind as we sped southeast in a big hurry.

It turned out we would have been fine remaining where we were, but we really didn’t have a lot of time to think about it!