I had not planned on chasing. I had an appointment that afternoon at 1pm. Chasing really was not on my mind that much. As I was driving to the appointment, however, I had noticed the sky conditions and wondered if they would develop into storms eventually. *shug* I went to my appointment.
When I came out of my appointment and got in my car to go home, I had noticed more cloud coverage than before. I didn’t think much of it at all because I was too busy trying to get my car cooled down inside and aired out..damn black interior!! Got my music going and pulled out of the office parking lot. I made my way down Potters Rd. and when I made my way over the bridge I noticed to my left a pretty decent looking..something. I was not sure if it was just a really nice looking rain shower or a storm at that point. As I approached the light to turn right onto Lynnhaven Pkwy I decided to go after this thing. Instead of making my turn, I went straight. Bad move. Everything was obscured by trees (remember this for later) So I turned myself around and decided to go back down Lynnhaven as if I was heading home.
As I did so, I noticed it started to look better so I pulled into a random parking lot and turned around to get back on Lynnhaven and drive toward it since the base was visible. A stoplight made some interesting perspectives of the storm possible. The storm was moving more toward me and so I decided to head toward home and see where I could pull off and photograph. This is when I was no longer chasing it, it was chasing me more or less. In fact it never was completely behind me until I turned onto Independence Blvd. It was more running along side of me. It really was not a fast mover which was good because it enabled me to get quite a few shots.
I made my way down Virginia Beach Blvd trying to snap pictures at stoplights and find a good place to pull over to photograph decently. Loehmanns Plaza (B on the map below) provided me that place. Next on the way was Pembroke Mall. (C on map) Very convenient since there is a whole side of the mall where there are never any cars since the store on that side closed a long time ago. No need for anyone to park there, right? I pulled in and knew I probably looked rather “suspcious” to the rent-a-cop who was driving through that area of the parking lot. Actually, I half expected him to stop me when I got out of the car and started taking photos…anyway. I managed to get some REALLY interesting and lovely aspects of this storm at this location. Just above the horizon where the downtown skyscrapers were, the base was visible. Photographing the base is apparently very important to me. Though even better than the base was looking up and to the left a bit. I am not entirely sure what exactly that bit of structure is. A friend later called it an anvil but it looked too rounded. It also did not look like any type of inflow tail either. Hard to tell, though the radar capture indicates it could POSSIBLY be inflow. Don’t hold me to it.
By that time it was throwing down some mean cloud to ground lightning and if there is ONE thing that I am very cautious of and do not like to mess with is lightning. Especially CG. I will trust a tornado more than I do lightning. When I saw that, I figured that it had to be severe warned by that time. I had been hearing thunder from it for the majority of the chase. The lightning confirmed that it meant business. I finished up my photographing and headed home for real. No need to stop anywhere else. There really was not much of a view anyway.
When I got onto Northampton Blvd there was some pretty impressive structure in the distance to the west. I snapped the final two photos of the chase, turned down toward home so I could get inside and wait for the storm to arrive. Went inside and fired up GR3 and was surprised to see what I had just chased (or what chased me!) I was correct about it being severe. It was pretty massive.
Something interesting wound up happening with this storm. It was moving NNW..more north than anything according to the storm tracks on radar. What I had photographed to the west while I was on Northampton was actually a huge linear system of storms. Those were moving from west to east. Here comes my storm up from the south and then it made a crazy turn to the west and collided with the line of storms moving east. This caused some areas of rotation to occur as the whole mess moved east. I can honestly say that in the years I have been into chasing I had not seen anything like that happen. All and all made for an interesting afternoon.
I will add that this was a chase where almost all odds were against me. I had not prepared to chase so I had no gear. All I had was my cellphone. Which is a pretty damn nice piece of gear to have. T-mobile G1. A nice piece of gear when the battery is not near dead! I could not even really check radar with it for fear it would shut off. I needed the camera more than anything, so I just basically winged it the whole way.
I was also chasing in the downtown area of Virginia Beach, on two of the largest roadways in the city…during rush hour(s) So, I have..a near dead cellphone, no radar, 4 lanes of traffic with a lot of stop lights on the way and last but not least…TREES. I HATE TREES. That is the one thing about living here and trying to chase is the damn trees. They obscure EVERYTHING. It is frustrating as hell. Plains chasing is a breeze (no pun) compared to what one has to do if they wanna chase in the Hampton Roads area.
Despite all, it was successful. I said I would dedicate the next chase to Fabian. Well, here you go, buddy…