Chasing in PA/NJ/DE/MD/VA??????

IS it even possible????

I just moved here from the Midwest..... and it looks pretty hilly here.

Looking for a chase partner.... is it even worth it?

How many chase days do you have here?

Chaseing is very different in the east. We have areas picked out in advance. no high speed chaseing needed. Long drives are for the most part not needed. We do WV and VA . We chase about 3 to five days a month. In WV the average tornados is around 3,with the biggest being a F3. Last year we had 9 reported tornados. Will most def. not have the chases you have enjoyed in the past :(
East Coast Chasing

Chasing is possible in some areas of the east, but several factors make it very difficult: a) roads....lot's-o-curves, forested, etc. B) visibility....trees, terrain, low cloud bases c) storms....occasionally we get a long-lived classic supercell, but more often it seems we deal with HP's, mini-supercells, and storms embedded in squall lines, etc. Many times we seem to have rotating storms develop in a modestly unstable (CAPE of maybe 1000) but highly sheared environment, producing low-topped convection that does produce tornadoes.

Every year there are storms worth chasing in VA/NC, but many times the lead time doesn't allow me to reach anything (i.e. leaving work early and have a 4-year old at home). Tropical season brings on its own challenges, brief spin-ups with fast-moving storms in a limited-visibility environment (LOTS of rain).

Since some of the convective variables tend to not be quite as strong as what you'd typically find in the plains, it seems severe weather is more sporadic, and tough to forecast a target area more than a few hours ahead of time. Lot's of times it's "hey storms are firing, can we get there???".

Here in VA/NC region, there seems to be a number of "hotspots" east of the Appalachians, and in our local CWA the area along the VA/NC border seems to get its fair share of activity (Pittsylvania VA to Rockingham NC on eastward). The following pict/link is from the Blacksburg VA NWS office, and it shows an F3 tornado moving into VA from Rockingham County NC. This was a long-track event, and probably a one in 10 or 20 year event for our local area.

I am not familiar with the scene in Northern Virginia, but they seem to get a fair number of severe/tornadic storms up there (maybe due to population density that they get reported more???). Depending on location, traffic may be an issue there. If you were lucky enough to find yourself intercepting a nice supercell in'd think you were chasing 15 years ago...because you'd be the only one on the storm!

WV storms

Tom, not to leave out West Virginia! The mountain state seems to get a fair number of cells from the NW, firing around a ridge and dropping through Ohio...and from the SW coming out of Kentucky. Have you caught any of those rolling through, especially from Ohio?

8) Sure have. We of course do not get the big tornados of the plains,but what we do get is wonderful. I have never lost interest chaseing in the 32 states.I work a lot of flooding them as well. 8)
I have lived in Virginia my whole life. Although I do chase across the Plains, I also chase in Virginia. Chasing in this area is difficult but not impossible. Trees, traffic, low speed limits and curved roads are the main problems. Of course, I'd rather chase in the Plains but we all can't live in Tornado Alley. There are many areas with good views of the horizon including areas of development and shopping centers. Also, the trees have been cleared for farm land. For example, southeastern Virginia is very flat and many areas are cleared for peanut and soy farms.

Benefits include better proximity to television stations who show live radar, good cell phone coverage and more wi-fi access points.

Photogenic storms are still possible. I have seen nice images of even hurricane induced tornadoes.


Tornadic supercell. I took this view from Charlottesville Va in April 1998. I was kept from chasing because of work. This occurred in my target area and produced an F4 tornado.


Broadnax Virginia tornado I intercepted in May 2003. I have about 4 minutes of video with good rotation.

And we've seen the nice tornado video from La Plata, Maryland. I usually chase a few times each year.

Don't rule out eastern chasing, just adjust to the conditions, be extra careful and enjoy!

Bill Hark