Day 4 of the “Sixteen Years of Virginia Storm Chasing” tour: The 2005 Virginia chase season proved to be an “abysmal failure” (to quote myself). Overall dry conditions and just plain bad chasing luck resulted in not seeing much noteworthy convective action that year. Thus this early season chase was a bit of a highlight.
“April chasing opened with a bang on the second day of the month when the Storm Prediction Center outlooked eastern Virginia for a Slight risk of severe storms and a 5% tornado probability, a significant figure of merit for the Mid-Atlantic. The first action of the day focused on a warm front lifting northward as I chased east of Fredericksburg during the late morning, catching only a glimpse of a small shelf cloud. After lunch I rendezvoused with my son in Thornburg where we parked his car and consolidated our gear into mine. From there we rolled west and then south on Virginia Route 208 underneath a low overcast. We hoped that an approaching upper level pool of cold air would provide the impetus for some strong updrafts.
We covered only 5 miles of this two lane highway before breaking into brilliant sunshine. We immediately glimpsed hard-knuckled convection boiling up to the south in response to the aforementioned cold pool. Our interception course led us across Lake Anna into Louisa county and somewhere south of the metropolis of Mineral we gloried in our first pea-sized hailfall of the day. Continuing east and south to stay with the most active cells we enthusiastically enjoyed three more hailfalls. One of these occurred while the sun shone and thus enabled the following cool photo (by Nathan White):
In an attempt to keep up with a short convective line we looped through the town of Louisa while tracking a feature that appeared at first to be a ragged wall cloud but was really a shelf cloud from another storm’s outflow. Not having mobile internet and thus sans radar access we miscalculated the line’s movement, thinking it was headed due north when it was quickly steaming northeastward. As a result we wound up out of position to catch up with a very interesting lowering at the back of the Tail-End Charlie (southernmost cell). However we were afforded a great view of the overall storm structure and witnessed multiple rainbows while thoroughly enjoying ourselves.
The 5% tornado probability didn’t verify for us as we saw no funnels and heard no tornado reports but we really didn’t care. This early April chase proved to be one of the bright spots of an otherwise abysmal 2005 Virginia chase season. Serendipities come when they come!”