With the remnants of Hurricane Katrina passing far to the west, there was the possibility of tornadic storms across central and western Virginia. There was a good combination of backed surface winds, helicity, increasing dewpoints and instability. Any isolated cells had the chance of becoming tornadic. Storms would move rapidly to the northeast, and I would have to intercept from the north, otherwise I would be left behind. I left work at approximately 3:00PM and headed west on I-64 from Richmond, then south on 29 toward Lynchburg. There was higher shear toward the south and west. Storms were forming in a north-south line across Patrick County and heading in my direction. Bill Coyle, another chaser, was in the Martinsville area. We traded info via cell phone. I blasted south, concerned that the storms would become tornadic, then dissipate or become more imbedded in a line. Crossing the town of Lynchburg on 29 was slow due to rush hour traffic and constructions. I could see on XM radar that one of the storms was becoming more dominant and isolated. It was moving just north of Altavista, Virginia. By 6PM, I could see brief glimpses of a wall cloud to the southwest through the trees on 29. XM was showing localized shear. Of course, the view I wanted was blocked by trees and a low hill while the horizon was easily visible in the other direction. Finally, I found a nice area to view the storm and there was already another storm chaser filming. When I got closer, I realized it was Dave Hoadley. We chatted and watched the wall cloud (1V) move rapidly to the north-northeast. There was rotation especially as the wall cloud (2V) became more consolidated. There was an interesting midlevel inflow feature (3V). We followed the storm north on 29. The intensity was fluctuating but I did see a lowering by 6:15PM.(4V) At the junction of 29 and 24, the storm briefly produced a rotating projection (5V) at 6:18PM but it quickly broke apart. Not wanting to drive back into Lynchburg, I headed east on 24, then north on 501. Dave also headed east and lost him when I stopped to take some pics. The storm showed a decline in intensity but then started to reorganize. Unfortunately, the storm was going through an area of poor north-south options, and I gradually fell behind. I could see the storm to the north (6V) but couldn't catch it. Much to my annoyance, stronger and more isolated storms formed north of Charlottesville and Green County. These became tornado-warned. Arrghhh. As night arrived, I headed back to Richmond. Total miles: Approx 300.
(V -- Video Still)
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