Chase Report: April 3, 2006 Moderate Risk Severe Bust

storm video, chase images and log by William T. Hark, M.D.


For the previous two days, I had been watching an approaching front and trough with the expectation of possible severe weather. This was an opportunity to test my equipment for the upcoming season. By the evening of April 2, I was confident of severe weather and possible tornadic supercells. There would be a low moving across Michigan and a trailing cold front. Upper level support would be present with a 500 mb trough. Dewpoints were expected to be in the low 60's along with backed surface winds and good helicities. By morning, a Moderate Risk was issued for southern Virginia and North Carolina. The SPC text was strongly suggesting tornadic supercells. I was slightly concerned about dewpoints that were slightly lower than predictions and possible veering of the surface winds. I was also not convinced of a predicted meso low across Virginia that would increase tornadic potential.

I left work at approximately 2:30PM and headed south on I-95 toward my initial target of Rocky Mount, NC. Dewpoints were increasing and winds were from the southeast across the entire area. There was nice clearing after the inital round of storms. The best predicted helicities were near Wilmington, NC (too far to reach) but they would be more than sufficient in the target area. A MCD was issued for southern Virginia and North Carolina detailing the potential for tornadic supercells. A tornado watch was later issued for most of Virginia and North Carolina. Everything was looking good. I stopped to get gas and check data in Emporia, Virginia. Winds were still backed but were starting to veer well ahead of storms forming over the mountains. Initally, the best parameters were near Emporia and I decided to stay. I met up with Bill Coyle and Jesse Bass III in a Burger King parking lot, and we watched WX Worx and checked data. The storms to the west rapidly intensified but quickly became a solid line. There was a slight decrease in local dewpoints and surface winds across the entire region except for the Emporia to Richmond line veered. I was a bit concerned about more isolated storms firing just southwest of Greensville, NC. By the time the SPC mesoanalysis showed a CAPE and Supercell Index bullseye over that area, it was too late to adjust my position. The surface winds in that area also had veered, and I felt tornadic potential was too low to justify a vain attempt to catch those isolated storms. They did look briefly nice on XM, probably the only true supercells in the region. As darkness approached, I headed north on I-95 to at least watch a squall line. Bill and Jesse also headed north. The chase was over for tornadic potential. The squall line was mildly interesting with some nice lightning. Unfortunately, best show was in my home town of Richmond with beautiful sunlit storm clouds and double rainbows. At least I didn't miss any tornadoes as there were no warning or tornado reports in the entire region despite the Moderate Risk and tornado watch boxes.

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All images Copyright 2006 William T. Hark