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I succumbed to the urge to chase Friday June 16th for no other reason than I wanted to. SPC had most of Virginia under a Marginal Risk with a stationary front retreating northward as a warm front. CAPE (instability) and PWAT (available moisture) values were both high but shear was almost non-existent. Thus slow moving heavy rainers were almost a certainty.

I “armchair chased” at home for a while until convection showed up over northern North Carolina. Departing around 3 pm I drove south on U.S. Route 220 toward Martinsville, stopping at Bassett Forks to fill the chasemobile’s gas tank and to regain situational awareness. Several cells showed on radar just above the I-40 corridor in NC and were drifting slowly northward toward the Patrick Springs vicinity.

Departing Bassett Forks I turned the chasemobile west on U.S. Route 58 and stopped first at the Blue Ridge Airport where I switched on the live feed. I could see the updrafts to the south but they were crawling along frustratingly slowly. After sitting still through the 5:00 pm weather segment on the local TV station (in case they wanted to use the live stream) I made the command decision to meet the storms halfway.

Maneuvering down rural roads through the metropolis of Moorefield Store – my first visit there –  I finally found a decent south-looking vantage point near the VA/NC state line. Unfortunately despite the promising warm and sticky conditions at the surface these storms had weakened and weren’t looking very healthy on radar:IMG_7400

However I could still see a lowering under the base of the westernmost cell with a moisture band still feeding into it from the left (east):wall cloud under NC storm

So in my not-so-humble opinion this was another wall cloud I’d bagged under a fading storm. (I didn’t see the point in sending in a spotter report on it.)

When this convection continued to weaken I packed it in, shut off the live stream, and motored back toward Martinsville for dinner. While at the fast food restaurant I noticed a cell going up north of the city along the Rte 220 corridor but I wasn’t enamored enough with its potential to cram down the rest of my meal and scoot out the door. Perhaps I should have…

When I neared the Oak Level vicinity it became very obvious this storm had intensified and was back-building with a vengeance (along an outflow boundary, perhaps?). I struggled to find an open vantage point from which to watch and finally had to retreat west of Rte 220 along a winding rural route to stay out of the rapidly expanding precipitation shaft.IMG_7426

I finally found an open spot amid the ever present tree lines on the edge of what appeared to be a family cemetery and watched as the shelf cloud and associated “whale’s mouth” approached. With the late evening sun at my back it was an impressive sight.Whales' mouth N of Oak Level

When the cell inevitably weakened I made my way back to Rte 220 north of the storm via more rural routes, stopping to observe the remnant shelf cloud as it slowly drifted toward me. To the west the setting sun provided another impressive sight:sunset iPhone style

And that was the end of it. No severe warnings, no strong winds, and no hail, although I may have witnessed some brief mesocyclonic rotation as I desperately sought to get out from under the expanding base of the storm near Oak Level. Perhaps I’ll see more details when I go through the videos.

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