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Today began a pattern change in which storms are finally back in the forecast almost every day this week. Unfortunately the jet stream has parked itself well north of the region so shear is at a premium all week. With high CAPE values and low shear we typically get “whack-a-mole” hailers and that’s what I chased today.

With a weak short wave traversing the mountains storms were already firing by mid-morning over West Virginia. The SPC actually issued a Mesoscale Discussion near 1 pm just after I’d left home:mcd1009Driving south on US Route 220  my intention was to intercept some strong storms that were moving southeast across the New River Valley. While I was rolling down the road one of those cells went severe-warned and aimed itself more or less at Rocky Mount:

IMG_7251

Therefore I stopped in Rocky Mount to refuel the chasemobile and, deciding to close with the storm, I edged back west to head south toward the metropolis of Callaway. Roughly 4 miles north of the town I pulled off, switched on the live feed, and snapped this photo of a fading wall cloud crossing the Blue Ridge:Fading wallcloud near Callaway

As this storm complex crested the mountains it weakened but a portion of the same line further south still looked strong. I decided to intercept the latter activity and maneuvered back to Rte 220 via rural roads. However as I rolled along yet another storm over the Roanoke valley received a severe warning so I redirected to catch up with it, turning north on 220 instead of south.

I was able to catch up with this cell only because it was moving very slowly toward the north-northeast. Making my way through Rocky Mount I pushed up VA Route 122 through the Smith Mountain Lake area, finally stopping at a known vantage point which provides a nice view of the Peaks of Otter. I remained at this spot for a while both to observe this second storm and stretch my legs.
Storm over Peaks of Otter

By this time the severe warning had been lifted and the complex was beginning to merge with other storms moving southeast from the Buchanan area. I zoomed up to U.S. Route 460 at Bedford and turned east to regain position on this system. But between the storm merger and the overall movement the activity was drifting into undesirable chase territory north and west of Lynchburg.

There wasn’t much else to chase within decent range of my location at this point. But given the still available instability it was likely that more strong convection was going to fire (and it did). However with storms likely each day this week I chose to call it a chase instead of pushing further from home.

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