I admit to being highly distracted while I’m jotting down today’s chase account. The possibilities of an overnight MCS/Derecho and an eye-popping setup tomorrow afternoon are diverting my attention from today.
I debated whether it would be worth heading out today as a weakening MCS slogged its way across the Appalachians. After looking at data and radar I concluded that a trip south to the Martinsville / Danville corridor would be the smart play as that’s where the best parameters (and undisturbed air) was and where discrete cells would likely fire. So of course I allowed myself to be suckered into checking out a line segment that crossed the Roanoke valley and headed toward Smith Mountain Lake.
I left home around 2 pm and paused in Wirtz to check out the situation. There I changed directions and motored to Burnt Chimney where I studied satellite images and radar views for a while. Despite some weak radar returns south of me I pushed north to the Westlake vicinity and faced west to live stream the oncoming convection. I calculated that if the southern activity began looking good I could still intercept it.
The northern stuff wasn’t impressive visually but I gave it some time to see if it would intensify. Meanwhile I furiously studied the map and the radar to see if (a) it was worth diving south after and (b) if I could get to it quickly enough.
After some dithering I pulled up stakes and sped south on rural roads, meeting up with VA Route 40 where I turned east and made my way to U.S. Route 29 south. I hoped the highway speeds there would allow me to scoot in front of a now burgeoning storm heading toward Danville.
Alas, I didn’t make it. The cell with its indicated hail core that triggered a severe thunderstorm warning (the only one in the area) turned right a bit and headed ESE away from me.
The best I could do was to maneuver east of Rte 29 on rural roads to an intersection with U.S. Route 58 near the Danville airport. Amid heavy rain I pushed east and then turned south toward Milton NC. I stopped at a fairground location north of the state line and watched the trailing edge of the cell for a while as the sun came out.
By this time the storm had weakened and the warning was dropped. If I’d just followed my initial instinct and had gone straight to Martinsville I could have been in position to see what was likely a nice wall cloud underneath it.
Moral of the story? You can only get into good chasing position on one storm at a time.