With a “cold” front oozing across the Appalachians and bumping up against a very hot and humid late August air mass I thought today might be a possible chase day despite the lack of shear or a cap. The SPC seemed to agree:
With that graphic in mind plus a detailed review at short range models I picked the U.S. Route 460 corridor as the best convergence zone for convection. With updrafts going up early over the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge I was tempted to head to the Martinsville vicinity instead. Indeed, that complex went severe-warned as I rolled toward Bedford but I was willing to bet that it would rain itself out given no cap and very little shear. I was right…about that cell, at least.
After filling the chasemobile’s gas tank I wriggled my way through Bedford to a rural spot north of town in order to intercept a nice-looking storm on radar that looked to cross the mountains from near Buchanan. When that cell weakened and stopped building on its southwestern flank it drifted more north than east, away from my vantage point. I then dropped south of town on VA Route 122 to another spot in Bedford county to settle in and observe convection down that way.
Unfortunately that activity also quickly waned. This cell pulsed up just west of my location but then rained itself out as it passed overhead:
I retreated back north to a park in Bedford where I cooled my heels for quite a while, watching radar and waiting. Everything east of the Blue Ridge was pulsing and raining out, leading to a typical late August game of “whack-a-mole” for chasers. I did notice that convection west of Roanoke was moving slowly north-northeast but was persisting. Thus a bit after 4 pm I made the command decision to ignore yet another group of cells growing just south of Lynchburg (figuring they would also pulse up and quickly rain themselves out) and push back west to check out the longer lasting action.
That was a mistake. Here’s that complex along U.S. Route 29 that not only held together over Lynchburg but went severe-warned:
Meanwhile the northern end of the western complex which I observed from near Daleville pushed out a brief shelf cloud that quickly fell apart:
Finally bailing on this action I grabbed a sandwich to take home but was diverted by storms from the southern sections of the same complex as they crossed the Roanoke valley. I wolfed down the sandwich while watching these storms.
This action crawled northward toward me at a snail’s pace and just before I finally called it a day this feature showed up between two separate cells:
There were indications of weak rotation on radar at this junction between two storm bases but it wasn’t enough to tempt me to stay and let the rain wash over me. Thus I headed home and let the soggy southern section of the activity – responsible for flash flooding southwest of Roanoke – crawl eastward across the Blue Ridge without my participation.
It was a late August non-tropical chase. That explains a lot.