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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.

cell nearing SML

Cell near Smith Mountain Lake

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. IMG_4862

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.View_2 of NC cell

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.