Storm Chasing in Powhatan Virginia.

Cloud to ground strike off Genito Road.

Since a young age, I have had a deep interest in the weather-related phenomenon. One of my favorite childhood movies was twister believe it or not. I would sit on the front porch with my Grandma or anyone else who wanted to and we would watch the weather come and go. To this day I still wish to see a tornado in person however, I do not wish the destruction that they bring on anyone or their property.

Aerial photo of a summer storm in Southern Powhatan County.

When I got my driver’s license and my first truck which was a lifted S-10 I immediately began amateur storm chasing. By this point, I was already deeply immersed in photography and video. However, I quickly learned why Powhatan and Virginia for that matter is not a popular chase state.

A section of Petersburg Road in Powhatan badly damaged by flooding after Hurricane Michael.

The dense tree cover and relatively low amount of visible roadside farmland make it difficult to intercept storms in the right places to get a good South-Western view of the storm. The reason behind targeting the South-Western side of a storm is due to this being an appropriate section to view lightning as well as potential funnel clouds dropping.

Not only does the obstacles make it difficult to get a good view of the storms, but we are geographically not in the best of locations for storms that for lack of a better word, like to “show off”. I have not witnessed any Tornados directly however, I was close to one and I was able to hear it. This was during a chase that ended at Sheetz in Powhatan beside Land & Coates. It was during this same storm a Tornado in Chesterfield destroyed one building and killed one individual in July of 2019.

A long shelf cloud fast approaching over Holly Hills in Powhatan Virginia.

That is not to say some interesting things don’t happen in Powhatan every now and again. The shelf cloud above was a pleasant surprise. I was visiting in Holly Hills when I felt the weather change, I checked my weather radar and saw the classic indication of an approaching shelf cloud which is a stretch of the storm with a very thin green band and a long stretch of yellow, orange or red. I promptly sent my drone up and took this panoramic shot.

Transformer blowing up in front of a lightning strike
Transformer blowing up in front of a lightning strike
An example of how a shelf cloud may look on the radar. Note the thin green line with extensive yellow, orange, and red.
Source on Pinterest.

This past season has been fairly slow but there were a few decent storms. Hurricane Michael did make for quite a show when it tore through Powhatan. You can see a B roll video I made of footage from that storm at the link above. Hurricane Michael caused a lot of damage across the entire Eastern U.S Coast. Perhaps this year of 2020 will lead to a productive but safe storm season. Overall, storm chasing in Powhatan Virginia can be rewarding albeit dangerous. It is something I enjoy and anyone who does not have experience with it should leave it to us crazies. Check out some more of these shots.

Powhatan Lakes over flowing
Powhatan Lakes overflowing
Rocky Ford damaged by flooding
Rocky Ford damaged by flooding
Flooded Rocky Ford
Flooded Rocky Ford
Mammatus clouds off Pineview Drive in Powhatan Virginia

Mammatus clouds appear as ominous as they are beautiful. They are formed by sinking cold air and are often associated with severe weather and most often attached to the parent Cumulonimbus cloud. Prominent ones are somewhat rare in Central Virginia so I was quite excited to capture these.

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