Yesterday’s post highlighted #6-10 of my favorite 2017 storm chasing photos. Today we’ll finish out the top 5.
5. June 19th shelf cloud crossing the Blue Ridge mountains: A cold front and an upper level trough advecting cool temperatures aloft across Virginia led SPC to blanket most of the state under a Slight and Enhanced convective outlook. The surface front fired a number of short line segments and the chasing started early and was fast and furious. Although I saw a couple of wall clouds this shelf cloud crossing the mountains in Bedford county was my favorite pic from that day.
4. Hybrid shelf/wall cloud on August 18th: A typically hot and sticky August day coupled with an approaching cold front enticed me to give chase. Per short range models the lee trough looked to fire storms ahead of the front along the U.S. Route 29 corridor so I headed to that area. I gave chase to the “Tail-End Charlie” cell on a broken line segment and wound up east of Gretna off VA Route 40. Two different updrafts grew with a rain free base between them. Apparently the outflow from the northern cell influenced the southern one to produce a lowering that exhibited characteristics of both a wall cloud and shelf cloud. This was my view after pushing east a couple of miles to avoid the rain.
3. An early season chase on March 18th: In the cooler months Virginia is known for its high shear / low CAPE (HSLC) setups and the 18th of March was yet another example. Every short term model I checked showed plenty of convection was expected and a couple of solutions indicated decent updraft helicity would be present. An approaching short wave trough provided the uplift via a cold pool aloft. This impressive hail shaft was visible to the southwest from a vantage point just east of the town of Halifax.
2. (Almost to #1!!) Memorial Day weekend storm: Because of schedules I rarely get a chance to chase with my son but Saturday May 27th afforded the opportunity to do so. An MCS outflow boundary, an approaching cold front, and a short wave trough were all convection-inducing factors so we rolled to the Appomattox vicinity as our initial target. After dithering a bit we chose to follow a strengthening cell as it crossed the Appomattox battlefield, tracking it via rural routes across Buckingham county into Nottoway county. A few miles north of Farmville we had this view of a visibly rotating wall cloud a couple miles to our east.
1. (Fanfare!!!!!) July 5th supercell in Patrick county: The SPC outlook for this day was a Marginal Risk for damaging winds via downbursts. A backdoor front was forecast to sag south across Virginia during the early afternoon and then an upper level “wrinkle” was to approach from the west during the evening hours. Accordingly I picked up my chase partner and we motored east to the U.S. Route 29 corridor to check out the afternoon activity along the front. Storms fired but they quickly coalesced into a rainy unchaseable mess. We broke off that part of the chase and headed southwest in order to intercept the later action. Just after we’d grabbed a convenience store dinner in Patrick county we heard the first peal of thunder from round 2. We observed a number of cells in that vicinity, seeing both wall and shelf clouds. However THIS view of a tilted rotating updraft (i.e. a rare Virginia discrete supercell) just east of the mountains was the icing on the cake and is my favorite 2017 chase photo. Notably it’s also the current header pic for this blog!
So there you you have it, my top ten photos from the 2017 Virginia storm chase season. Hopefully this helps dispel some of the rampant SDS (supercell deprivation syndrome) this time of year. Meanwhile, on to 2018!!