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With an SPC Marginal Risk in place across Virginia and a backdoor front dropping south across the state it was time for another June chase today after a quiet start to the month. Given the heat and humidity levels I waited comfortably at home watching radar until finally deciding to leave after 2:30 pm. A Mesoscale Discussion had been issued for strong storms but with almost no prospect for a watch issuance. CAPE was plentiful but shear – again – was very meager.

A cluster of storms was slowly edging south from the Lexington area across the Blue Ridge mountains toward Bedford. Thus I made my way east on U.S. Route 220 to that municipality, pausing at the visitor center just off VA Route 122 exit to observe the cells as they crossed the ridge line. When the rain approached I dropped south a bit to watch some more and eventually had this view of a developing shelf cloud that looked at first like a wall cloud (and was in the correct position for one on the southwestern edge of the cell):shelf cloud near Bedford

I sat at this location for quite a while as the slow moving storm drifted south toward me. I had thoughts of keeping ahead of this complex by rolling south to VA Route 24 and turning east but another cell fired ahead of this activity as shown in here its beginning stages:IMG_7276

With an intensifying rain/hail shaft blocking my way I turned back to a spot just west of Rte 122 (off Joppa Mill Rd) where I snapped this photo of the oncoming storm: storm approaching Joppa Mill RdAs it rumbled in my direction it spit out lots of CGs (cloud-to-ground lightning strokes) so I wound up staying rather close to the chasemobile.

I tried yet again to find another route east but the precipitation shaft on the southern cell had intensified greatly so I finally gave up on that idea. When the storm complex I’d been chasing kept developing on its southwestern edge I decided to push west on VA Route 24. I stopped briefly at Staunton River High School to watch before continuing west.

I dove south of Rte 24 on rural routes and wound up at a farm entrance watching the western edge develop and head toward me.IMG_7284

As it neared my location scud began to gather and this feature showed up as what may have been a nascent wall cloud:

nascent wall cloud

The feature continued to develop into what looked like a wall cloud with an inflow tail from the precipitation shaft:wall or shelf cloud

Given the outflowish structure of this cell I’m uneasy claiming this as a wall cloud but it certainly had the appearance of one.

When the precipitation approached I decided to stay put for a static core punch, This hail core made me a bit nervous but it weakened and passed just west of me so I didn’t see or hear any ice falling:IMG_7311

After waiting in the rain for what seemed like an interminable amount of time I rolled back north on Joppa Mill Road into dry conditions. Instead of calling it a chase I maneuvered into western Bedford county on rural roads. I wanted to find a vantage point from which I could watch (and live stream) the back edge of the convection. I never found an acceptable spot so I eventually gave up and headed back home.

Along the way I passed through the Chamblissburg vicinity and noticed some tree damage on the sides of the road. Apparently both hail and high winds had passed through there, literally a couple miles west of where I’d been sitting at the farm entrance.  None of these cells had been severe-warned but I was surely glad I didn’t feel the brunt of that storm directly!

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