Supercell thunderstorms are rare in Virginia

By Andrew Freiden - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It was a rare, beautiful, example of the power and beauty of weather in Virginia.  Our severe weather coverage of Wednesday, Oct. 27, ended shortly before 7 p.m. as we tracked a supercell thunderstorm to the Northern Neck.

When the storm was over Lancaster County, we actually saw it on our HD Troutman Sanders Camera downtown.   The storm was more than 60 miles away from Richmond but it was showing up clear as day!  This is something almost never seen around here.

It happens regularly in the Midwest where supercells are more common.   In Virginia, tornadic thunderstorms are typically not supercells.  They tend to be smaller storms that are obscured by rain, so you don't see the lightning show our camera picked up.

This storm was isolated—as it zoomed past Richmond, skies cleared behind it, enabling a perfect view.  A check of the data from last week shows the top of the storm was 45,000 feet up when we saw it in Lancaster County.

The other ingredient to the light show we saw on TV?  The sun was setting in the west.  Although the last rays of sunlight were gone at ground level, sunlight was still shining on the top of the storm, illuminating the clouds from the outside while the lightning lit it from within.

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