#vawx A throwback to October 2006

This coming Friday, December 1st, will feature the opening salvo in the “Sixteen Years of Virginia Storm Chasing” series of holiday blogposts. Impatient as always during SDS (supercell deprivation syndrome) season I decided it was necessary to feature yet another chase photo that won’t be a part of this series.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This one is from October 1st 2006 looking north in eastern Stafford county. At this point the feature was probably over the Potomac River between Virginia and Maryland. It was more shelf-y looking than wall cloud-ish at this stage but it had exhibited signs of inflow for a little while. Regardless it helped push back the beginnings of SDS season that year.

This year? Not so much. A quiet autumn left my 2017 Virginia chase season high and dry with only a couple of very tame September “chases” after an abrupt mid-August cutoff. Yep, SDS is becoming rampant in the White house!


#vawx Another SDS-avoidance photo

To keep the chasing juices flowing during this Thanksgiving week here’s a photo from March 23 2011 in Culpeper county:23Mar11 Barn and storm scene

It’s a sepia rendition of a photograph that shows a barn with a storm building in the background. Admittedly there’s not much to see storm-related but it does supply hope for early spring chasing in 2018.

That plus my attendance at Indiana ChaserCon 2017 this past weekend helps keep SDS (supercell deprivation syndrome) at bay a while longer. And who knows? There may be an announcement forthcoming in the next few weeks of a noteworthy event here in Virginia next fall…

#vawx A preview of things to come

Still on track to begin the “Sixteen Years of Virginia Storm Chasing” on December 1st. I will be pulling from existing chase write-ups but will add more content and photos to what’s already recorded.

In the meantime here’s a photo from April 3rd 2006 (which won’t be part of the collection). It was taken just ahead of – and almost underneath – an approaching squall line in rural Fauquier county:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gotta do something to ward off the shorter days and gloom from persistent cold air damming this time of year!!

#vawx The “Sixteen Years of Virginia Storm Chasing” holiday interlude

December straddles two major family oriented holidays and also marks the beginning of winter. As such storm chasing is the furthest thing from most folks’ minds…kinda like this guy:lawnmower man

So to keep good chasing thoughts rolling I’m declaring December 1-16 as the “Sixteen Years of Virginia Storm Chasing” holiday interlude. Beginning on December 1st (coincidentally the first day of meteorological winter) I’ll post one chase writeup per day here. It’ll begin with an account from my first Virginia chase season in 2002 and will end with the 2017 season.

The tough part will be picking just one chase from each year as some seasons were very prolific. But even so I have to keep reminding all my non-chaser friends of this:storm chase meme 2

Stay tuned!!

#vawx THIS is the end-of-season chase day

Looks like today is the chase near Veterans’ Day which I have adopted as my empirical end-of-Virginia-chase-season limit. Unfortunately it’s all happening in my old stomping grounds in northern VA, too far away to tempt me given the shortened daylight hours. Here’s the SPC Day One outlook:VA_swody1 copy 19

The main threat is for straight line winds but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a wall cloud or two from these storms given the updraft helicity signatures on this WRF NMMB forecast graphic for 4:00 pm today (courtesy Pivotal Weather):21Z Monday WRF NMMB

If conditions south of the I-64 corridor improve enough to significantly boost CAPE values I could be tempted to head northeast of Lynchburg this afternoon. Given the convective timeframe and a ~5:00 pm sunset I’m not wildly optimistic about the odds of seeing something. However I will be keeping an eye on developments.

#vawx Not holding my breath but maybe Tuesday?

Wellll….my empirical Virginia chase season deadline of Veterans’ Day could still prove true for 2017. A strong autumn cold front looks like it’ll fire up severe storms across the Midwestern states on Sunday. As it continues eastward Monday and Tuesday there’s a chance that enough energy will dive into central and southern sections of the Old Dominion to make things interesting.

Here’s the 06Z (yeah it’s the off-hour run) GEFS ensemble showing supercell composite parameter means at 18Z (1 pm EST) Tuesday:GEFSUS_con_meanscp_132

And here’s the 06Z GFS panel for the same time showing theta-E:GFSMA_sfc_thetae_132

A forecast sounding (not shown) at this time near Lynchburg shows some promise as well albeit another high shear / low CAPE event. IF these progs hold true (and they’ll change, guaranteed) the U.S. Route 460 corridor may be a place to hang out with chase gear Tuesday afternoon.

Of course with less daylight (sunset will be ~5:30 local time) the odds of seeing something severe aren’t great even if it happens. But you’re telling me there’s a chance…

#vawx This is not the setup for me

Unless a daytime supercell comes calling nearby I’m not heading out today despite this tornado watch issued for S and N Carolina:ww0508_radar

Why, you may ask? Even though this could be the last hurrah for 2017 chasing I’m put off by the following factors:

(1) Widespread overcast and antecedent rainfall = poor visibility and sloppy driving just to get into position east of the Blue Ridge mountains.

(2) Short days at the end of October. Sunset at 6:32 pm (2232Z) means not much of a chase window this afternoon. Also there won’t likely be much lightning to help illuminate storms.

(3) Individual cell forward motions are currently in the neighborhood of 50-60 kts per my trusty GR3 radar display. This wouldn’t be “chasing”; it would be more like “glimpse the storm and wave bye-bye.”

(4) LOTS of rain on the way would mean a very wet and dark drive to get home after the chase.

So I’m letting this setup go unless I can see something almost from my front yard. Darn.

#vawx A change in timing may necessitate a Monday afternoon chase

Hmmm…I may wind up eating my words from the last blogpost. Low pressure scooting north over eastern KY will provide a high shear / low CAPE (HSLC) setup across southern VA on Monday afternoon. This is the SPC’s Day 2 outlook:VA_swody2

This just may be tempting enough to head south to the U.S. Route 58 corridor after lunch tomorrow. And given the parameters SPC may issue a Day 1 Slight Risk south of U.S. Route 460 to cover a 5% tornado risk across Southside VA.

We’ll see.

#vawx Autumn chase season blooming in the Plains but Virginia is left in/with the dust

The secondary autumn storm season is happening out in the Plains states. Today’s SPC Day 1 outlook is exhibit A for that area:day1otlk_1200

There’s even a 5% tornado probability in the Enhanced Risk area to titillate chasers out that way.

Meanwhile convective activity – and even plain rainfall –  has been sorely lacking across Virginia the past couple of months. The next strong cold front due through the region arrives late Monday into Tuesday and while the setup will bring beneficial rain it doesn’t look conducive for daytime storm development. Shear will be plentiful but instability is just about nil per the GFS timing of surface moisture return.

Beyond that there is a faint hope of something during the last weekend of October but that’s too far out to trust the model solutions just yet. My empirical chase season limit of Veterans Day isn’t far off so the probability of another chase here in the Old Dominion is growing slimmer by the day.

Meanwhile a lot of weather folks have discovered the Weather.us site that provides another source of model information (including the Swiss model). In addition to that resource the site contains a blog that is also helpful. I thought this blogpost was of particular interest to chasers given today’s setup in the Plains.

Happy chasing to all those in the Plains even tho’ our season here in Virginia appears to be down for the count.

#vawx Not noting much post-Nate action



Despite leaving behind despicably high dewpoints the remnants of Nate haven’t produced anything chaseable here in Virginia. On the other hand upstate North and South Carolina had plenty of activity Sunday:171008_rpts

Today the air is still juicy and there’s a stationary front wavering near the Virginia / North Carolina line. However there aren’t any real convective triggers and the 700 mb temperatures are pretty warm so any updrafts will likely be stunted. The day 1 SPC convective outlook isn’t optimistic for anything severe here in the Old Dominion:day1otlk_1300


According to both the NAM and the GFS tomorrow – Wednesday – could bring some strong to severe convection across the southern parts of Virginia as another cold front sweeps in from the west. So far, however, the short range convective allowing models aren’t buying into that idea. Neither is the SPC as evidenced in their current day 2 outlook:day2otlk_0600.gif

I’ll reserve judgement on tomorrow until…well, tomorrow. Meanwhile I’ll make a final call on today’s potential by noon.