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A nontropical mid-September chase possibility is something to seriously consider. Thus, I did, and I did…chase today, that is.

A cold front, a surface low, a bit of CAPE and plenty of deep layer shear gave hope to some rotating updrafts either ahead or along the front today (although conditions only warranted an SPC Marginal risk designation). Given an early day arrival of the front into the Old Dominion I headed out at 9:30 a.m. for the Rte 29 corridor. Arriving at a favored wait location near Blairs (north of Danville) I sat for a while to watch radar, surface observations, and – oh yeah – eventually eat lunch.

Finally about 1 p.m. some robust updrafts in NC showed up on radar moving northeast toward the Rte 58 corridor. I motored in that direction, stopping along a rural route south of the main highway and looking at the “Tail End Charlie” storm. It looked good to begin with but eventually faded both on radar:


and visually:

First storm

At this point I noticed via radar another line of cells going up west of me near Martinsville so I was faced with a classic chaser’s choice: Which action to pursue? Should I continue east following the cells I was already on or punt those and head back west? I went for the latter option since it was closer to home base.

i rolled back toward Danville at highway speeds and turned north on Rte 29 as the storm approached. I wound up just north of Blairs east of the action:


looking at this wall cloud:

wall cloud near Blairs

Within five minutes or so this cell began gusting out so the feature turned into a shelf cloud which grew quite a bit laterally. Wanting to stay out of the precipitation but still see the storm I retreated in front of it all the way into southern Halifax county, staying a half mile or so ahead of the rain.

I finally stopped just south of the storm in great position to watch and photograph the action.


And I caught a perfect example of a scud cloud trying to pose as a wall cloud:

good scud example

As this storm continued eastward more action bubbled up across the state line in NC, the entire setup looking like cells lined up along the cold front itself. I wound up back on Rte 58 near Turbeville VA watching the line converge literally over my head.

Line merger at cold frontAfter the line moved south of the highway I jumped back on Rte 58 to head west toward home…but I had to stop a few miles down the road to snap this last look at a very sculpted cell along the front itself.

Final look at cold front cell

So far there aren’t any SPC severe reports in Virginia for today so the Marginal risk was justified. But I witnessed some very picturesque scenes and enjoyed my time wandering about the countryside today so it was worthwhile.