May 1, 1868: Weather forecasting as a concept in the United States was conceived as the Director of the Cincinnati Astronomical Observatory unveiled a plan to his staff where they would establish an observation network like that of the Smithsonian that has fallen apart during the Civil War. They would use the observations to create public weather forecasts. That vision would become a reality on September 2, 1869 when the first forecasts were issued.
May 2, 1814: Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, Dr. James Tilton issued an order for Army surgeons in the field to keep diaries of the weather. This order established a loose network of meteorological observations.
May 3, 1999: A strange looking weather tool named a profiler helped meteorologists realize they were dealing with a more serious weather system than they thought. The profiler measures wind in the upper atmosphere using sound waves. Data during the morning indicated that upper winds were stronger than expected, allowing them to issue a high risk outlook. The additional awareness undoubtedly saved lives.
May 4, 1961: Neal Ward of the National Severe Storms Laboratory became the first person to use radar to direct him to a tornado intercept. While in communication with the lab by radio telephone, Ward captured a tornado near Geary, Oklahoma.
May 5, 1982: The Weather Channel began broadcasting. The most popular feature of The Weather Channel? Your local forecast…
May 7, 1857: The Washington Evening Star began publishing reports from the Joseph Henry’s far flung observation network.
Just too much on radar... I think the decision was a good one. For the past five days all weather parameters pointed to wet weather today, and rain and NASCAR racing doesn't make a good mix.
Tomorrow should offer a dry and mild day for the big race.
WINDS: Been watching weather data from our SKYCAM network site atop Mount Cheaha:
Winds have been approaching 45 mph at times this afternoon...
ARE YOU KIDDING ME: I turned on the TV to take a look at network coverage of the NASCAR event at Talladega today and just saw a commercial on that station about their weather operation. The spot was laughable. In my old age, I really don't pay attention to the competition as much as I did years ago... we run our operation on our vision; what the others do in the market makes no difference.
That commercial featured one untruth, and one statement that was pretty misleading.
The commercial said they have the "largest weather team" in the market. HMMM.. at ABC 33/40 we have four meteorologists on staff, and with two contract meteorologists from The Weather Company (J.B. Elliott and Bill Murray) our grand total is six. We have the largest staff by far.
And, the commercial said that their station was "YOUR CHOICE". The implication is that they are the ratings leader during severe weather coverage. Once again, that is far from the truth. During most long form tornado coverage periods, ABC 33/40 has more audience that the other local stations combined. It is not even close.
Never let facts get in the way of a good TV promo... I have many friends at that station, and I worked there for many years. And, I need good competition. I am simply disturbed by the the words in this commercial. I am sure my friends over there would be just as disturbed if we ran some kind of spot like that.
Enough venting... back to a peaceful Sunday afternoon. I will have a full discussion and a new map discussion video available by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow...
A wave of showers is moving across Northwest Alabama across Marion, Walker and Winston Counties.
Showers are breaking out across much of East Central Alabama fromthe Birmingham Metro area north and eastward across the eastern half of the time. The activity is quickly becoming more numerous and increasing in intensity. This activity will affect the Talladega Superspeedway during the next couple of hours.
To the southwest...showers are increasing from southern Tuscaloosa County back through Hale, Green and Sumter Counties. Lightning is increaing with this activity. A thunderstorm was reported at Meridian MS. This activity is forming in an area of richer moisture. It will overspread areas west of a Bibb to Shelby to St. Clair County line later, including the Birmingham Metro area.
A thunderstorm complex is firing over Noxubee... Kemper... Newton and Lauderdale Counties around Meridian...lightning strikes are beginning to increase. It appears to be associated with an upper level disturbance. It is moving north northeast.
This activity appears that it will move mainly over areas northwest of a line from Sumter through Hale... Tuscaloosa... Jefferson... Blount and Marshall Counties... It remains to be seen whether it will edge eastward as we go through time.
It likley will, and could bring a more extensive round of showers and perhaps a storm to the track later.
Other showers will form throughout the day across the area in advance of a cold front as Alabama is swuezed between a wedge from the east and the front to the west.
Some sun has broken out through thinning clouds over parts of Central Alabama. A little more sun could yield slightly higher afternoon temperatures. They could be closer to 70 before all is said and done than the 66 I forecast on average...
Be careful of thw wind...it is gusting to over 30 mph at timesA Lake Wind Advisory is in effect until 4 p.m. this afternoon...
There are times when it is really fun being a meteorologist, but there are also times when it is really tough being a meteorologist. Today is one of the tough times, and I suspect it's going to be a nail-biting day for race officials at Talladega with one eye on the sky, one eye on the radar, and one eye on the race!! Oops, perhaps they won't be watching the race since we have just two eyes. I know if I was there offering weather support, I would be watching the radar intently!!
Today will be a cloudy, cool day with some passing showers. A couple of bands of showers were passing through Central Alabama at this writing, and I expect to see a similar pattern for the rest of the day. This does not look like it will be a wash out day, however, depending on the timing of some of those showers, race delays could happen in the Aaron's 499 this afternoon.
And don't forget the sunscreen. Even with the cloud cover, ultraviolet radiation still makes it through the clouds, so protect the skin. With temperatures expected to reach only the mid and upper 60s, the strong south-southeast wind will make it feel cooler, so a light jacket may be needed.
The surface high is forecast to split on Monday with a center located over Apalachicola, FL. This will cut off the northward flow of Gulf moisture at least for the eastern half of the Southeast US. A small possibility still exists for showers because of moisture still in place. But it really looks like the first couple of days of the week will be dry.
The Gulf is still open into the mid-Mississippi River Valley, so the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has a slight risk of severe weather outlooked across a sizable portion of the middle portion of the country for day 2 and 3.
Toward the end of the week, the GFS is showing a long wave trough becoming established over the eastern half of the US. This will put Alabama under northwesterly flow and keep temperatures at or below normal. In fact, the GFS is indicating the 5400 thickness values to reach Nashville on Saturday, May 6. With the long wave trough comes a cold front on Friday which should be our next substantial chance for rain.
Looking well ahead over week 2, the long wave trough weakens and then re-establishes itself keeping the Southeast US in a northwest flow regime. This would mean a period of normal and below normal temperatures for much of the next week. After a rather warm April, I could go for a cool May!
Thanks for checking in with the Blog. Hope that your Sunday will be a good one. I'm really looking forward to next weekend - that's the weekend of the Birmingham hamfest. A hamfest is a gathering of amateur radio operators with commercial vendors and other amateurs selling new and used equipment. There are also meetings of various amateur groups like storm spotters. It's a really great opportunity to see fellow hams that you probably haven't seen face-to-face since the last hamfest. It will be at the Zamora Temple located near the intersection of I-459 and I-20. If you are interested in ham radio, this is a great time to see a lot in one location. Hope to see you there.
Sorry we forgot to put in the order for good weather early enough. The folks who make the weather promise they will get us something a little nicer tomorrow. But for today, we have to take what we have.
Will it rain out the race? I still don't think so. Radars show quite a bit in the way of showers over Central Alabama. This activity is being enhanced by an upper level disturbance back over Mississippi. There is a break behind this first wave, which will move across the are between now and 9 a.m. Rainfall amounts will be light, generally less than a tenth of an inch.
Then it looks like there is a break. Activity is intensifying over South Mississippi. A tornado watch has been issued for Southeast Louisiana and extreme southern Mississippi, where a couple of strong storms continue. A tornado warning was in progress as I wrote for St. Bernard Parish and for Hancock County Mississippi.
I think this activity weakens as the upper low causing this weather moves on out well to our north. Hopefully, that will be the case and we will just endure a few scattered showers through the afternoon hours.
If something does happen and running the race is a problem today, tomorrow looks like a good weather day with at least partial sunshine and milder temperatures in the 70s.
I received an email from someone asking why The Weather Channel local forecast states that some storms could be severe for us today. Hmmmm... Can't quite see it. All of the upper level support is moving out to the north. The SPC has a Slight Risk well to our northwest. The activity to our south will weaken through the late morning hours. They do have us included in a thunder area, although we don't have thunder in our forecast. Bottom line: I don't think we will be worrying about severe weather.
Brian Peters will be weighing in with his valuable opinions shortly in the morning map discussion. Stay tuned for that...
One of the deadly twisters occurred on April 30, 1953. The tornado struck the Warner Robbins AFB in Georgia. Eighteen Air Force personnel and their family members were killed. As a side note, some excellent footage was taken of the violent tornado as it tore across the base.
The Warner Robbins tornado was the beginning volley in a deadly season that would rage out of control all the way to December. Things really turned tragic in May, as 163 people perished. A massive tornado struck downtown Waco, Texas on May 11th, killing 114 people.
In June, an incredible 244 people died in tornadoes. Only two months have had more since 1950. You can probably guess them if you try. April 1974 and April 1965 (Palm Sunday Outbreak.) On June 8th, a powerful weather system produced a one-half wide-wide tornado that hit Flint, Michigan. The killer resulted in 116 people. It is the last single tornado to kill more than 100 people in the U.S.
The next day, the very same weather system produced a massive tornado that devastated a large part of Worcester, Massachusetts. New England’s deadliest tornado ever killed 94 people along a 46 mile path.
An endnote was added to the year on December 5th when an F4 tornado slammed into Vicksburg, Mississippi, killing 38 people. Never have killer tornadoes struck population centers with such deadly results.
A large mass of clouds extended from the Great Lakes southward to the Gulf of Mexico presenting much of the eastern half of the country with a cloudy, gray day for the last Saturday of April. Hard to believe that April is just about gone. And that, unfortunately, puts the start of hurricane season just one month away. And yes, I have my bag packed should any hurricanes threaten the Alabama or Northwest Florida coast. I just hope I don't have to use it!
A very challenging forecast with all of the folks outdoors to see the races at Talladega today and tomorrow. Unfortunately, the computer model guidance does not spur confidence with the NAM and GFS coming up with rather different solutions.
I do expect much of the day to be dry today though with all the clouds out there a few sprinkles might occur at any time. There is a possibility we could see a few showers later this afternoon, but I don't think there will be many of those. The main event comes this evening and Sunday.
There is also a weak wedge in the surface pattern today as high pressure moves across Pennsylvania and cooler air noses down along the eastern side of the Apalachian Mountains affecting primarily northern Georgia. The effects on Alabama will be to increase our pressure gradient producing rather breezy conditions today.
Sunday will be a cloudy day with off and on periods of rain with some heavier showers embedded in the rain area. The main upper level system gets close to Alabama tomorrow before pulling off to the north-northeast. Sunday temperatures are not expected to get out of the 60s.
Monday sees an improvement in the weather, but with a good deal of moisture in the air, showers will be a possibility through mid-week. Afternoon highs should be in the 70s.
The next change comes toward the end of the week as a cold front drags through the Southeast US. And the GFS establishes a long wave trough over the eastern half of the country by next weekend resulting in northwesterly flow. This general pattern is currently forecast to stay with use for much of the next week so the first half of May could see normal to below normal temperatures if the GFS is correct.
Hope you have a great weekend. The next web video map discussion will be posted Sunday morning.
The 2005 hurricane season set all sorts of records, including the most named storms ever. A few weeks ago, the National Hurricane Center, doing a postmortem on the 2005 season, determined that a late season storm in the far Eastern Atlantic was semi-tropical in nature and it became the 28th one of the season. There were 15 hurricanes, including 7 major hurricanes. Six tropical storms or hurricanes struck the USA.
How can we ever forget the names Katrina, Rita and Wilma—just to name a few? They will go down in history.
All indicators point to another active season ahead (hurricane season starts officially June 1). It may not be as active as last season, but it is too horrible to even think about another major hurricane striking Florida or anywhere along the Gulf Coast. Even a weaker hurricane would be a tragedy for the Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama coast where recovery is far from complete from the last storms. Let’s just hope and pray that they will stay out to sea this year.
There is no place in the world that has more tornadoes than the good old USA from east of the Rockies across the Plains into the Midwest and here in the SE. We have already had 591 tornado reports this year. Of course, those will be reduced somewhat after final inspections. Last year at this same time, the final count stood at only 239. The USA has seen 49 fatalities in the first four months of this year as compared to 38 for all of last year and 36 in 2004.
Our first tropical storm name of the year will be Alberto. Let’s hope he never makes it to hurricane strength.
After a wonderful day today, our weather will change in a big way over the weekend. Be sure and scroll down to read J.B.'s list of low temperatures this morning.
TOMORROW: I still think most of the day tomorrow will be dry. Can't rule out an afternoon shower, but most of the rain will come after dark. Highs should be in the mid 70s in most spots with a mix of sun and clouds.
TOMORROW NIGHT: Rain should increase, especially after midnight. A thunderstorm is possible, but there will be very little instability.
SUNDAY: We will continue to forecast periods of rain during the day. There continues to be a chance of mass of rain and storms over the Gulf coast will block the good inflow of moist air into the northern half of the state; if this happens then rain will be light and spotty on Sunday. Otherwise, it could rain at any time.
The temperature forecast on Sunday is problematic. The GFS continues to show a wedge of cool air moving in from the east and shows a high of only 61 for Birmingham on Sunday. The NAM isn't on that bandwagon; that model has 73 for Birmingham on Sunday. We will pretty much split the difference in our forecast over on the seven day page, but I have a gut feeling the GFS has a good handle on the wedge and it might be correct. If that is the case, some places near the Georgia border like Heflin and Wedowee will hold in the upper 50s all day. Downright chilly for late April.
EARLY NEXT WEEK: The chance of a shower Monday is fairly small, so if the Aaron's 499 has to be moved to Monday I don't think weather will be a problem. Looks like the best chance of rain over the first half of the week will come Tuesday night with a passing front.
LATE NEXT WEEK: Looks like a good round of rain and storms at the end of next week, around Friday May 5. The GFS is suggesting dry weather for the following weekend (May 6-7).
Some big storms right now out in West Texas where tornado watches are up and a moderate risk of severe weather is in place... but nice and quiet here in our weather office. My next map discussion video will be posted bright and early Monday morning by 7:00 a.m.... have a great weekend!