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2018-04-15 REPORTS: VA/NC/SC

I started out the day figuring I would position in Greensboro, NC near the eastern edge of SPC's 10% tornado risk, which they seemingly delineated at least partially based on updraft helicity tracks from CAMs. After letting some unimpressive cells in the open warm sector pass over me, I decided to head southwest toward the strongly forced line of storms approaching from the west, which was breaking up into semi-discrete cells including a tornado-warned hailer over Charlotte.

I stopped in Lexington to check radar and reassess, and had a choice between following the former Charlotte cell (no longer warned) or getting on a new cell that was coming up from Albemarle. I thought the Albemarle cell was heading into better air based on surface obs and mesoanalysis, and the deciding factor was that its motion was decidedly rightward compared to the other cells around it. I decided to take US-64 over to Asheboro, which would put me just on the correct side of the storm, and then follow the storm north. I would also need a quick stop for gas.

By the time I got going again, north on US-220 out of Asheboro, I was basically abreast of the base, which was close to my left and about to cross over the highway. I didn't feel that the storm looked very impressive visually, with a skinny highish base, not much of a wall cloud or RFD gust front, and very heavy RFD precip suggesting an outflow-dominant character. However, out of an abundance of caution I decided to get off the main highway and allow the storm to cross US-220 ahead of me, rather than continue ahead and possibly get steamrolled by a tornado in case my assessment was wrong.

While this may or may not have been the correct decision, I was never able to catch back up to the storm, despite being close on the heels of the circulation and following it over 120 miles and through a string of tornado reports, the first of which was in my planned staging area of Greensboro. The motion was just too fast, especially with blinding rain making for slow driving. The comedy of the literal storm chase is best expressed in video form:

https://gfycat.com/RarePhysicalHornet

Final statistics:

Miles driven: 656
Tornados seen: 0
Gallons of water dumped on car: over 9000
 
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