Severe Storms in Southeastern Virginia: April 27, 2007


With an approaching cold front, moderately unstable (forecast CAPE approx 1000 J/KG ) air and prefrontal trough as a focus, severe storms were predicted across eastern Virginia and North Carolina. Although strong SW winds were present at the 500 MB level, overall flow was unidirectional. Surface winds would also be from the southwest. The SPC had a 5% tornado risk for east and southeast Virginia. I thought the risk was overestimated, and I probably would have blown off the day except I needed to test my equipment for the upcoming Plains chase season.

I left work at 1PM and headed south on I-95. There was already a line of storms in southcentral Virginia extending to the southwest into North Carolina. The line was moving to the northeast. I hoped to target the tail end of the line in extreme southeast Virginia. I turned east on 40, then south on 35 to Courtland, Virginia. There, I had a straight shot east on 58. One of the storms was becoming dominant just south of 58. I was starting to get ahead of the storm when I encountered massive traffic in the Suffolk to Chesapeake area. I was about to call off the chase when the more isolated storm intensified and was showing significant shear markers on XM. I followed 460 through Chesapeake, then north on 13. Virginia Beach Blvd would put me in good position just south of the storm but I was slowed by more traffic. The storm eventually moved over Virginia Beach and out to sea.

The Hampton Roads area of Virginia is always a traffic nightmare, and I was now in early rush hour. I called off the chase and made my way slowly back to 460 from Virginia Beach Blvd. I didn't think there would be any more significant storms and I stopped for dinner at the Virginia Diner near Wakefield on 460. There were some mushy showers to the northwest. I didn't think they would amount to anything, and they would be moving north of the James River. I didn't have any nearby cross over points on the river. After dinner, I noticed that one of the cells had exploded, and I was able to get some nice distant shots just north of Wakefield. Additional small storms formed to my west and I was able to watch some nice lightning near Surry, Virginia before heading home. Total miles 287.

All images video stills.

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