I will always remember early October because of Hurricane Opal. Eleven years ago today Hurricane Opal was growing stronger and by early on October 4 she had intensified rapidly to a category 4 in the Gulf of Mexico.
I remember very well working in the weather office at WBRC-TV with James (that is where he was chief meteorologist at the time). I was doing complete updates every 30 minutes on several local radio stations and we worked most of the night.
After midnight, it got so windy and stormy that some trees started coming down.
Opal made landfall about 6:00 p.m. on October 4, 1995 near Navarre Beach in NW Florida. After moving inland, she curved toward the NNE passing all the way through South-Central and East Alabama. The center passed just west of Montgomery, then to near Talladega and eventually to near Ft. Payne in the NE corner of the state.
At the worst, 2.6 million people in Alabama were without power—some for over a week. Alabama Power reported the most widespread outages in their history up until that time. 1,400 utility poles were brought down and 400 miles of power lines.
2,500 Alabama power linemen teamed up with 2,500 from out of state and worked like Trojans. They did their usual great job but the task was enormous.
Present weather in Gainesville (2PM EDT)...Sunny with temperature 84 and light winds. The dew point was 57 which means the humidity was a whole lot more pleasant than it could be at this time.
Nearest showers were off in the Atlantic and others south of Miami. No threat of rain for the game.
In Baton Rouge, some strong to possibly severe thunderstorms were approaching from the west and a lightning delay for the LSU-Mississippi State game. In fact, a Severe Thundersrtorm Warning for the area for possible large hail and wind gusts over 60 mph.
The Saturday map discussion video is on the web, and available on iTunes:
Remember, we post the map discussion video in both WMV and MOV formats (Windows and Quicktime), so you have your choice for viewing.
Can you ask for any better weather than this? This morning is one of the coolest days we've seen in Central Alabama since last April. Feels great out there with low humidity and briskly cool air. Every time of the year has some great weather, but Fall has got to be one of the best as we make that transition toward winter.
Can you spell high pressure? That looks like the main feature that will be in our weather pattern through the upcoming week as we end September and begin October. October is the driest month of the year in Central Alabama, so that nice rain we had about a week ago was a real blessing that will serve well as we head for generally dry conditions.
There are a few clouds this morning across North Alabama but these appear to be mid and high clouds so no rain today. The GFS is forecasting a bit of moisture to cross the area tomorrow but without much of a mechanism to get some upward forcing, I doubt that we'll see more than an isolated shower at best.
The latest GFS model run suggests high pressure right through the upcoming week. An upper ridge will move over our area taking up back into some warm weather once again. In fact, afternoon highs may reach the upper 80s again, but morning lows will stay generally in the 60s. With cool mornings to start each day the afternoon highs don't see quite so bad.
Even the long range model guidance keeps a big ridge over our area so there is not much weather action for us if the models are right at least through the first couple of weeks of October.
I'm filling in for John Oldshue on television this weekend, so I hope you'll have a chance to tune in. Got to be down at the Women's Show on Sunday before my weather shift, so hope you'll have a chance to join us there. Still reveling from the wonderful Alabama Symphony Orchestra performance last night with some wonderful music.
I hope you each have a great weekend. God bless.
September is usually the most active month, but no one expected what happened in September 2002.
As September rolled around, the counts suddenly exploded.
A record 8 named tropical cyclones formed in the Atlantic basis during the month. This is far greater than the average 3 to 4 that usually occur and nearly equal to the long term average for an entire season. It is one better than the previous record of 7 observed in September 1998.
After the slow start, things exploded in the month of September. As the month drew to a close, a record eight named tropical cyclones had occurred in the month, including Edouard. Faye, Gustav, Hanna, Isidore, Josephine, Kyle and Lili.
The reasons for the burst of activity are hard to pinpoint, but one reason is that systems formed in multiple reasons. Another reason is that 2002 was the first year that the National Hurricane Center started naming subtropical storms.
Get ready for the coolest night so far this season; most communities will drop into the mid 40s by daybreak tomorrow, but the colder valleys have a chance of reaching the upper 30s. The sky will be completely clear and the wind will be light, a perfect night for radiational cooling.
WARMER DAYS AHEAD: A warming trend begins over the weekend; we go into the upper 70s tomorrow, and low 80s are likely by Sunday afternoon. The tail end of an upper air short wave will move over North Alabama Sunday, so there will be some scattered clouds, but for the moment the chance of a shower looks pretty small. We might have to include some risk of isolated showers, but lets take a look at the 00Z model runs before we change anything.
NEXT WEEK: Warm and dry weather will be the story next week as an upper air ridge builds across Alabama and the Deep South. Afternoon temperatures will rise well into the 80s, and a few spots might even touch the 90 degree mark. At this point we see no significant chance of rain through the week.
LONG RANGE: The 12Z GFS develops a tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico in the October 11-12 time frame, and then moves it east across the Florida peninsula and into the Atlantic. Needless to say, this is complete voodoo at this point, but it is possible considering the pattern. Then, the GFS continues to develop a major upper trough over the eastern half of the nation by October 15 with the coldest air so far this season following a cold frontal passage. That might bring the first widespread frost to North Alabama in the October 16-19 time frame if the model is correct.
TROPICS: Isaac remains far from land, and the rest of the Atlantic basin is quiet for the moment.
I hope you enjoy the weekend... I will be at Cheaha State Park serving as a judge for the annual chili cook-off; it is part of the annual Arts and Crafts Festival. Hope you can join us! I will have the next map discussion video on the web by early Monday morning at 7:00... Brian Peters will have you covered over the weekend....
days have been filled with rain but this one was the rainiest...we
drove around to see where one particular road ended and low and behold
we found the Kodiak Launch Complex...apparently it is where they
launch a bunch of stuff from that they really don't want anyone to
know about...and apparently eagles like rain because they were out all
over the place today...
37 in Belle Mina
40 in Valley Head, Cottondale and Black Creek
41 at Russellville Airport
42 in Pinson, Crossville, DeSoto State Park
43 at Hanceville, Collinsville, Fort Payne Airport and Scottsboro
44 at Huntsville, Courtland, Vinemont*
45 at Anniston Tuscaloosa, Decatur, Albertville, Meridianville, Cullman Airport, Alabaster(Navjo Pines)
46 in Evergreen, Muscle Shoals, Jemison
47 at Birmingham and Alabaster (Highlands section)
48 in Auburn, Troy and at the Shelby County Airport (NWS Office)
49 atop Mt. Cheaha (33/40 SkyCam
52 in Selma
54 in Mobile
* 33/40 Skywatcher, Mike Wilhelm reports the 44.4 degree low in Vinemont (North Cullman County) this morning was the coolest so far this season.
What a great morning... most reporting stations around the northern half of the state are somewhere between 45 and 50 degrees as I wriite this. Today will feature maximum sunshine, a cool breeze, and temperatures about 10 degrees below normal for late September; most places will see a high in the low 70s.
Tomorrow morning will be the coolest with mid 40s likely; the cooler valleys have a shot at the 38 to 42 degree range. But, after tomorrow, we will flip into a warm pattern to begin the month of October.
THE WEEKEND: Lots of sunshine both Saturday and Sunday; we will reach the upper 70s on Saturday, and low 80s Sunday.
NEXT WEEK: An upper air ridge builds across the Deep South next week, and that will provide warm afternoon temperatures all week, mostly in the mid 80s. Nights and early mornings will remain fairly comfortable, however, with lows in the 55 to 62 degree range most mornings. The upper ridge also means a dry week. At this point we do not see any significant chance of rain for the next seven days.
LONG RANGE: The GFS brings back the eastern U.S. trough at mid-month; the 00Z run hints at a strong cold front with rain and storms around October 14-15, followed by much cooler air.
TROPICS: Tropical Storm Isaac will stay out to sea, and the other features scattered across the Atlantic basin look really weak and disorganized at this time.
Our midday crew will be live down at the Southern Women's Show at the BJCC today from 11:00 until 12:00 (that is the new time for our midday newscast); I will be coming in to back up Jason Simpson, hanging out in the weather office. So, I will have the afternoon map discussion easily on time today by 3:30 this afternoon. Enjoy your Friday!
A viewer writes:
“My question is: What is the best way for me to monitor Bham severe weather when there's no electricity? What does your family do to monitor severe weather when you lose electrical power at home (aside from cellphone)? I am an intelligent, well-educated person who has tried to research this question on the internet. And I am still baffled by what my first response should be when my area is in the midst of severe weather AND I lose electrical power.
When I see severe weather developing AND I have electrical power, I immediately turn my TV on to Channel 12 because you provide coverage that is continuous, detailed, and more factual and less hysterical than other channels. At the same time, I also have identified several favorite severe weather websites that I check periodically. But all of this requires electricity.
Am I correct in saying that, when all other forms of getting information (for the average citizen) are cut off by a lack of electricity, the last resort is listening to a radio? I own a weather radio with the SAME alert filtering technology but I still find it to be information overload.”
A great question... One idea is a battery operated TV; those have become fairly inexpensive and are available at many discount retailers.
Of course, a battery operated radio receiver is another way to get weather information when your power is out. But, in this day and age, most radio stations are often voice tracked from announcers who have never set foot on Alabama soil, and are run by computers that only know to “play 20 in a row”. But, there are some exceptions.
Cox Radio here in Birmingham goes to great lengths to cover local severe weather. In fact, they employ our own J.B. Elliott, the great Alabama weather legend, who handles their long form coverage on radio. So, if you can’t see us on TV, I strongly suggest listening to J.B. on 98.7 FM (WBHK/Kiss FM). They often simulcast J.B.’s coverage on their stations at 610 AM, and 95.7 FM. And, Don Dailey and his team do a great job on 104.7 FM (WZZK), along with 106.9 FM and 97.3 FM. Those three stations will occasionally simulcast the ABC 33/40 audio during tornado threats.
At 7 PM, EDT, it was mostly cloudy at Columbia Airport, 79 degrees, and wind SSW 10. Some strong storms passed north of Colunbia in the last hour or so. Scattered other storms were over Western South Carolina.
The NWS is forecasting scattererd thunderstorms tinight,,,about a 1 in 3 chance.