Storm season officially begins
The first thunderstorms of the year arrived today in West Virginia, kicking off the spring-summer storm season (this is my 15th year of observing). This first chase was a little rough for me. I was primarily after lightning and small hail, as these storms were not expected to be huge and severe. I went after a storm early near Madison, only to have it dissipate while another strong cluster developed and moved right over Charleston in my absence, to my dismay. I didn't even have a chance to make it back into town due to an accident on Corridor G that closed the highway for a good 30 minutes or more. I heard from a friend that the storm I missed in town was a hailer, and sure enough there were several reports - including one of 1.25" hail in Dunbar. That's pretty big for this area. Had I not jumped the gun and drove south for the first storm of the day (I should know better than that) I might have captured some great hail and lightning video to start off the expedition season.
Frustrated but not giving up, I headed up to Ripley to intercept another cell that was about to cross I-77 at sunset. I had a little better time with this storm, getting a few lightning shots on video (a screen capture is here). Nothing earth-shattering but enough to avoid the day being a total loss. I'd be more upset if it weren't for the fact that this is part of observing - sometimes you pick the right storm, sometimes you don't. Even with the technology we have there's no way to avoid picking the wrong spot some days. Sometimes it's better to stay home, sometimes it's better to drive to intercept. It turned out that Wednesday was a day to wait in Charleston. But, one thing is for sure, if you keep observing, the good days will happen from time to time. You just have to be willing to endure the bad days to reach the goal.
Chasing is not an inexpensive activity, and when a bad day is in progress, the frustrations run high. The main thing that helps keep me from going insane during a day like Wednesday is to remember all the great intercepts I've been blessed with. To be honest, I've had more successes in observing than I ever expected or deserved. If the Lord wills, there will be more great intercepts to be had. The bad days, as I said, are an unavoidable fact of observing. They are tough to deal with, but staying thankful for past and future successes makes them bearable.
Anyway, winter is coming back for a few days, meaning a shift back to snow coverage mode. After that we just might be on the home stretch for warming up for the season.
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