After reviewing the medium range and then the short range models I decided I wasn’t going to chase today’s setup from Michael. Too much rain was on the way which would lead to yet more flooded roads. Then this happened:
Followed by this (yellow shade is a Tornado Watch):
The watch area covered an area much further west than I’d anticipated.
Agonizing for at least two minutes I decided I couldn’t let this pass. All the model runs had been consistent with a couple of rain bands pushing through Southside Virginia toward Lynchburg out ahead of Michael’s core circulation. The window of opportunity for potentially discrete cells in this western section of the tornado watch was narrow, beginning about 11 am and ending by 2 pm. That was when the heavier and steadier rain closer to the core was forecast to slide northeast across Southside.
Based on that and the real-time radar depiction I motored first to Bedford. The rain was heavy and visibility was very restricted until I got east of the Blue Ridge where conditions improved slightly. During a stop at Bedford to gas up the chasemobile the rain was steady but light and ceilings were a bit higher than in Roanoke. From there I pushed further east and stopped just off U.S. Route 29 south of Lynchburg. I had decided I wasn’t venturing any further east than this given the narrow timeframe available.
I sat there for quite a while watching radar and straining to see details in the clouds. During one break in the rain I could make out some low level structure but everything was fuzzy and hard to keep track of. After wandering around the countryside a bit I called it and headed home as the steadier precipitation around Michael’s core approached. Water ponding on the roads became more prevalent as I neared Roanoke and while multiple alerts sounded for Flood Warnings and even Flood Emergencies.
This was the scene just down the street from our house:
That’s normally a very well-behaved creek that runs through the trees well away from the road.
In hindsight I should have stayed home today. But I chased in a tornado watch (which I would have regretted missing) and I was home well before dark. That’s not something that happens often here in the Old Dominion.