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Even though there was little support for severe weather today I took the opportunity to chase. A weak warm front was forecast to push north across the region and that remnant shear zone can do funny things with little to work with. Thus I rolled down the driveway about 2 pm when the radar began to light up.

Stopping in the Wirtz vicinity I hung around for quite a while as a line of slow moving showers trudged eastward across the Blue Ridge. One cell strengthened ahead of the activity:cell near Boones Mill

Its eventual merger with the line created a strong core that apparently dumped over an inch of rain over downtown Roanoke in a very short period of time. The line itself was moving mostly north and only reluctantly sliding east. I attempted to parallel it via VA Route 122 but more storms built out ahead of it.

I wound up plowing thru a fair amount of rain while pushing north in traffic across Smith Mountain Lake into Bedford county. After wandering around a bit I motored east on VA Route 24 and then south on VA 43 to Woodford Corner for a quick break. One of the cells out ahead of the line formed a nice shelf cloud that I photoed before continuing southeast to Altavista.shelf cloud at Woodford CornerI contemplated diving south on U.S. Route 29 to get south of the action but realized I couldn’t make it in time. So I drove into Altavista, turned south into Hurt, and then rolled east across northern Pittsylvania county. As I did a large shelf cloud built behind me.shelf cloud view fm Pittsylvania co

On the way east thru Pittsylvania county I had a first in my chasing career: a bear crossed the road in front of me!! I first thought it was a large dog but when it stood up on its hind legs and then loped off the highway my jaw dropped to my chest and stayed there for the next couple of miles. Unfortunately I wasn’t recording video at the time and couldn’t get my iPhone camera ready quickly enough so I have no photographic proof.

I wound up going all the way to Long Island (VA!!!), keeping an eye on radar velocities as a circulation passing near Gretna headed in my direction.IMG_5122I caught some tantalizing glimpses of lowerings underneath the storm’s base but I couldn’t get a clear view to the west until I reached Long Island. By that time whatever feature may have been there was rain-wrapped and impossible to see.

When the heavy rain neared I called off the chase and rolled south to the VA Route 40 corridor, fully intending to head back home. Nature had other ideas and a series of discrete updrafts trailing off to the southwest caught my eye. I diverted south off Rte 40 onto Chalk Level Road and stopped on a side road to check out this cell.early view of svr storm updraft

I couldn’t resist so at this point the chase was back on! I continued south along Chalk Level Road until I noticed a lowering underneath the storm’s base. Quickly pulling off the road to a vantage point I pulled out cameras and fired away.another view of wallcloudAnd for a closeup of the lowering/wall cloud:wallcloud closeup

By this time the storm was severe warned as well:IMG_5128

I remained at that location for quite a while until the cell weakened and pushed out a ragged roll cloud:roll cloud under svr TS

At this point I called off the chase for the second – and final – time and headed for home. Not bad for garden variety thunderstorms!

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