Day 9: The 2010 chase season marked the first year I had (limited) access to mobile WiFi data. However during this October 27th 2010 chase I didn’t have all my gear with me since it was an after-work chase.
“The Storm Prediction Center had most of Virginia in a Slight Risk but with a 5-10% tornado probability for October 27th. That is a significant level for this part of the country, especially so since the setup was non-tropical. I was hopeful that a chase would pan out even though I had an offsite meeting to attend in southern Maryland.
The morning involved driving through pouring rain to my meeting hoping that conditions would still ripen later for storms…but not until I could get out to chase them! The meeting finished mid-afternoon and I left for home amid convection firing at all points of the compass and with several weather warnings underway. Along the way I spied a lowering under a cell nearing the Chesapeake Bay but ignored it as I was focused on getting back into familiar chase territory.
Crossing the Potomac River back into Virginia I stopped at a handy WiFi hotspot to check radar which obligingly showed a vigorous convective line steaming northeast toward Fredericksburg. I quickly scrambled westward to a favorite King George county vantage point between the Rappahannock River and Virginia Route 3 to observe the oncoming line. After observing one cell as it moved off to the east without any distinguishing features I noticed another storm approaching from the southwest that exhibited an obvious lowering under a rain-free base. The NWS Sterling office had issued a tornado warning on this new storm at 4:37 pm.
I relocated a couple miles further west on Rte 3 for a closer look and was rewarded with a clear view of a rotating updraft and a wall cloud. I called in a spotter report to the National Weather Service office in Sterling at 5:00 pm before snapping this photo a couple minutes later:
An expanded view of this photo verified another Fredericksburg area funnel sighting:
The funnel soon dissipated as another wall cloud began forming on the southern edge of the updraft:
When the rain approached my location I moved back east to observe a while longer. The new wall cloud continued developing but never dropped another funnel while I watched:
After this photo the cell weakened considerably and heavy rain obscured all features. I should note that lightning was very infrequent during this chase indicating that these updrafts were fairly shallow. However the low level shear was strong enough to create some late October chasing excitement!”