A synoptic setup that included a warm front, a cold front, lots of moisture, plenty of shear, and clearing skies convinced me that Saturday 6/27 was undoubtedly a chase day. I actually rolled out the driveway not long after 12 noon to head to Gretna to (a) pick up my son for a joint chase and (b) get closer to a line of showers and storms that had formed over Pittsylvania and Halifax counties.
That convective line turned out to be the warm front trudging north and east from its overnight position over North Carolina (NC). I watched the boundary leave the area with a modicum of regret because I was pretty sure a tornado watch would be issued somewhere near it that afternoon (and I was correct!). But since my goal was to chase in southern Virginia I let it go and concentrated on the clearing skies behind it.
Convection eventually began in earnest over NC by mid-afternoon and we headed into rural Pittsylvania county to the hamlet of Callands to check out the situation. Now under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch we debated about where to locate ourselves. I finally motored further south to an open ridgetop east of Martinsville that I’d found on a previous chase.
From that position we could see convection bubbling to our southwest and west while directly overhead a large anvil from a storm to the south had overspread. We debated about whether to wait on the southwestern storms or to go after the large cell to our south. My son convinced me of the wisdom of the latter option as it appeared that we could intercept the southern cell and then pull back west to intercept the southwestern action.
Thus we scooted to the NC visitor center south of Danville where we caught the first glimpse of a lowering under this storm, now severe-warned:
Staying – barely – ahead of the precipitation we maneuvered our way to a point east of Danville at a hilltop cemetery where we had all of five minutes to watch and photo the storm before moving again. This was the rotating wall cloud at the southwestern business end of the cell:
When the precipitation once again approached our location we leap-frogged north and east a couple of times. Eventually we reached a point just off VA Route 360 where we could sit and watch this cell for a while:
At this juncture the storm was visibly weakening so we abandoned it and headed back west to check out the convection we had left behind earlier. We wandered around southern Pittsylvania county in a vain attempt to find a decent vantage point from which to observe the oncoming complex. Said complex was moving mostly eastward and had become severe-warned as a result of ingesting a vigorous discrete cell that plowed into it from the south.
We never found a clear open view of this storm so we dove south to the NC visitor center (again!) to use the facilities and to attempt a peek into the inflow notch of the complex. Unfortunately for us by this time precipitation had filled in the notch. Meanwhile the overall complex had become outflow dominant so we were limited to a quick look at a shelf cloud before fleeing ahead of the gust front.
We again pushed east and then dove south on Route 86 out of Danville to avoid any possible hail. We wound up in Yanceyville NC, still without finding any decent vantage points from which to really observe this storm. Fortunately by this time the convection had weakened and no hail was showing on radar. We stopped in a restaurant parking lot, snapping photos as the shelf cloud approached:
When the precipitation and gust front arrived our best option was to head inside and grab a belated dinner while waiting for conditions to improve. When they did we called it a chase and retraced our steps back to our respective homes.