Chasing on Bastille Day (July 14th) wasn’t a sure thing but when early afternoon convection crossing the WV mountains held together I headed out. I tried to get a clear view of the action from the east side of the Roanoke valley – even winding up on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a bit – but was completely frustrated. Thus I continued east along VA Route 24, detouring briefly on a southeasterly rural road without much success at seeing anything.
Upon reaching VA Route 122 I dithered on which way to turn. The convection was slowly moving north-northeasterly, with radar showing one nice-looking cell heading in the general direction of Bedford. Another larger complex was moving from the Rocky Mount area toward Smith Mountain Lake but I wasn’t convinced I could gain position on it. Thus I turned north and wound up at a rural viewing spot looking at the northern cell.
Here I switched on the live stream and settled down to watch the action but booming thunder kept turning my attention toward the southern complex. When a leading edge circulation showed on that storm via radar I gave in to an itch to check out the southern stuff.
Crossing Rte 122 I dove east and then south on rural roads before intersecting with VA Rte 24 just ahead of the rain. Motoring eastward I turned south again at the intersection with VA Route 43 and stopped at another vantage point to snap some more photos. Here I saw evidence of scud being pulled into the updraft south of the main rain shaft as plentiful CG’s (cloud-to-ground lightning) stabbed down not far away.
When the rain got too close I pulled away again and rolled south on Rte 43 to a point near Woodford Corner (where I’d stopped to observe storms two days earlier). Realizing at this point I wouldn’t be able to get ahead of this complex without continuing to the U.S. Route 29 corridor I pushed back north to Rte 24 as large raindrops splattered on the windshield.
From there I took a circuitous route north and then west via rural roads back to Rte 43 to barely avoid this likely hail core under the now severe-warned cell:
I had a time limit on the chase since we had tickets to a local minor league baseball game that evening so I almost called it off at that point. However as I maneuvered back to Rte 24 once again and turned west I noticed a series of cells going up along a flanking line to the southwest. This entire section was severe-warned as well. Thus even tho’ I didn’t relish the thought of driving toward the busy Smith Mountain Lake corridor I dropped south on Rte 122.
After trudging along in a plug of traffic I finally reached a pulloff with a vantage point from which I could see one of the southwestern cells as it slowly tracked right toward me. I had glimpsed lowerings underneath the base as I drove and another one was evident as I stopped:Other than a pleasant few minutes of observing the storm in a quiet spot nothing else occurred so I called off the chase at 4 pm to head home in time for the game.