**I will begin producing the Weather Xtreme video tomorrow; holding production again today so we can get text products out quickly and do social media response**
MAJOR WINTER STORM TO IMPACT ALABAMA: The forecast is on track from yesterday, and there is no real need for much modification today. A cold rain has been falling over Alabama overnight. Temperatures are above freezing this morning, and there are no travel issues other than wet roads.
A classic winter weather pattern is in place, with a cold high to the northeast, and a low forming in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
The NWS maintains a winter storm warning east of a line from Hamilton to Jasper to Birmingham to Sylacauga to Roanoke for today and tonight.
There is a “winter weather advisory” for places like Tuscaloosa, Brent, Clanton, and Rockford, but mostly rain is likely there. That is a buffer zone.
TIMING: Here is output from our high resolution RPM model, which shows the change from rain to snow. The first graphic is output valid at 1:00 p.m. CT.
The change to snow and freezing rain should begin in the 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. time frame north of U.S. 278 (Hamilton to Cullman to Gadsden), and east of U.S. 431 (Gadsden to Anniston to Roanoke). Bottom line is that we will still have mostly a cold rain and temperatures above freezing through 12:00 noon. After that, temperatures begin to fall, and conditions will begin to deteriorate.
RPM output valid at 4:00 p.m CT…
At this point, snow should be widespread from Birmingham north and east as dynamic cooling kicks in from the storm, and cold air continues to be pulled into the state at the surface from the east. A band of freezing rain/ice is likely over East Alabama below the snow.
And, RPM output valid at 7:00 p.m CT…
Snow continues from Birmingham north and east, with freezing rain to the south over counties like Randolph, Clay, and Chambers.
PRECIPITATION TOTALS: Here is the NWS snow accumulation projection…
Heaviest snow will come over Northeast Alabama… some communities in Jackson and DeKalb could see 3-5 inches of snow. Gadsden around 2 inches… 1-2 inches near Anniston. Birmingham remains right on the line between rain and snow; some of the northeast suburbs could see an inch or two, but just southwest of Birmingham it will be a cold rain.
Just rain, generally speaking, for places like Tuscaloosa, Greensboro, Clanton. However, some snow is not out of the question as it all winds down later today.
IMPACT: As temperatures fall this afternoon, driving conditions will become hazardous due to snow and freezing rain. Initially roads and bridges will be the issue, but black top roads could also have ice and snow issues as well, especially after dark as temperatures continue to drop. I believe the “afternoon drive” period today (3-6 p.m.) will be very challenging to snow and ice from Birmingham north and east.
I also have concern there could be enough ice accumulation over some East-Central Alabama counties for scattered power outages. Counties like Cleburne, Randolph, Clay, and Chambers. This is where the “wedge” comes into play… cold air drains into our state from Georgia. They go below freezing with rain still falling.
TO THE EAST: A crippling ice storm is still expected over much of Central Georgia and South Carolina.
An ice storm warning is up for of Central Georgia, from Atlanta south toward Macon. Power outages there could be widespread, and last for days.
TONIGHT/TOMORROW MORNING: The snow will end across Alabama in the 9:00 p.m. to midnight time frame tonight. Temperatures go down into the 20s, and icy travel is likely through tomorrow morning where snow falls today and tonight. Road conditions there will begin to improve by late morning.
GOOD NEWS: The weekend ahead will be dry and warmer; the high will be in the low 50s Saturday, and low 60s Sunday.
WEATHER BRAINS: Don’t forget you can listen to our weekly 90 minute netcast anytime on the web, or on iTunes. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including our meteorologists here at ABC 33/40.
CONNECT: You can find me on all of the major social networks…
Stay tuned to the blog today for frequent updates…
Heavy rain is falling along I-20 heading towards Atlanta. Some reports of of sleet and freezing rain being reported towards the Alabama state line. Temps just across the border in Georgia are right at the freezing mark. That cold air is associated with the wedge and cold air damming that is slowly creeping west today.
A significant and likely crippling ice storm is underway for much of Georgia and the Carolinas today. Travel is highly discouraged the farther east you go on I-20. Throughout the day, we will likely see portions of East Alabama impacted by snow and ice accumulations because of the abundance of moisture and cold air moving into the area.
Good news just across the state line, the NWS in Jackson has cancelled the Winter Weather Advisory for the counties that border Alabama as temperatures have warmed above freezing and only light to moderate rain is falling.
That is not the case in southwestern Mississippi and northern Louisiana as quite the ice situation developed overnight. Interstate 20 has ice accumulations and there are power outages throughout the area. Many areas are reporting more than a quarter inch of ice covering everything, including utility lines and bridges.
Much better conditions in Alabama as warm air advection helped keep our temperatures up as well delivered more moisture into the region. Across Alabama, we are seeing varying weather conditions for the northern part of the state. For areas along and south of I-20, it is all rain. No winter weather concerns this morning. Actually a descent distance north of here, conditions are okay as well. Where we are seeing a wintry mix and some icing is along and north of the U.S. 278 corridor. There have been several reports of freezing rain in these locations as icing is occurring on elevated surfaces as well as a light coatings of ice reported on cars, houses, signs, and utility lines. Similar reports across the Tennessee Valley of Alabama as well. If you have to travel in these areas, use caution as there will be some click spots and make sure you check local road conditions.
For the next couple of hours, I think what we see is what we get. Most of us should see a cold rain today as temps should stay above freezing, before we begin to transition to a winter weather threat, especially for northern and eastern portions of the state. Even though we have seen some advisories dropped to our west, the main window of concern for Alabama will occur later today and all winter weather alerts in effect are for later today.
Low pressure along the Gulf Coast will be moving inland. The low will pull down so colder air from the north. We will have overrunning precip and the rain will transition to snow later today. I expect that locations near Birmingham will see snow, but the real concern will be east of there. Heavy snow accumulations and a threat for icing could cause serious issues over eastern portions of the state as cold air damming will be moving in from the east.
Since the GFS has the best hold of the system lets look at the forecast graphic for the later today. We see the majority of our precip has switched over to snow. The snow will develop over the Tennessee Valley by early afternoon and then spread south throughout the day as colder air is pulled south on the back side of the low.
Below is a graphic of possible accumulations put out by the National Weather Service. This seems to best align with the overall thinking and model agreement for potential accumulations. Of course, there is usually always a surprise when it comes to winter weather forecasting and that surprise could be some locations receiving more accumulations than are forecast.
A quick reminder of the alerts issued for Alabama. The Winter Storm Warning and Winter Weather Advisory remain valid until 6AM Thursday. Though road conditions appear fine this morning in Central Alabama, these are likely to change through the day as a majority of our precip goes from liquid to frozen. Make sure you stay up-to-date on the latest weather and road conditions as we head through the day.
We continue to see a mostly rain event across Central Alabama this morning, but we are getting some reports across our northern counties of a bit of a wintry mix. Event reports of some light icing on elevated surfaces. We are watching the northern areas carefully in the short-term as they are the most likely places to see icing issues overnight.
Even now, reports of icing in the Hackleburg community in Marion County. Reports of vehicles covered in ice and ice beginning to coat power lines in the area. We will likely see reports like these for the next few hours in that part of the state.
Our temps across the state are still above freezing and that is good news. As expected, we have see warm air advection across the state during the overnight hours. Dew points along the Interstate 20 corridor are above freezing as well and that bodes well for the next several hours as icy conditions are not expected to occur during this time frame. There certainly could be some slick spots to the north of I-20, but for much of Alabama, expect a cold rain the next several hours.
Conditions are a bit more troubling to the west of the state, where there have been issues across Mississippi and the ARKLATEX.
Reports from our western neighbors:
Last hour, heavy rain was reported in Starkville with a temperature of 32 degrees.
From NWS Jackson: Across Central Mississippi, numerous reports of slick spots and icy roads. Some locations are reporting 0.2-0.3″ of ice coating roads and bridges.
Several weather related accidents, where vehicles have slid off roads.
Freezing rain coating trees, power lines, cars, signs.
From NWS Shreveport: A very messy situation across eastern Texas, northern Louisiana, and southern Arkansas. I-20 has a glaze on it, and there have been numerous accidents.
Reports of power outages increasing throughout the area. Parked cars have been reported to have over half an inch of ice coating them.
Numerous roads reported frozen over.
Help us tonight and tomorrow by submitting your precipitation type reports using the mPing app (it is free!!) by NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory. Go here for more info:http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/projects/ping . This project helps the National Weather Service and local media keep track of what precipitation type is happening where.
Hopefully I have a little good news for us, at least for in the morning across Central Alabama.
Temperatures are not falling across the area and and evaporational cooling will not help them fall any further except across the far northern part of the area up around Hamilton, Haleyville and into Huntsville. The temperature at Haleyville is 34F and 33F at Cullman Airport near Vinemont.
Readings will drop to freezing near and north of US-278 tonight, setting the stage for the precipitation that is moving into the area to be a mix freezing rain, mixed with sleet and snow. This will impact areas from norther Marion, across northern Winston and Cullman Counties, northward through the Tennessee Valley and over into Northeast Alabama. There could be light accumulations, up to a third of an inch of snow and some light accumulations of freezing rain or sleet. There could be scattered icing problems in areas where colder temperatures and precipitation combine to produce heavier amounts.
South of this area, a mix will fall overnight, consisting of rain, sleet, some freezing rain and even some snowflakes. Right now there is a lot of sleet mixed in The further north you are, the more wintry the mix will be. Accumulations will be very light. By sunrise, temperatures in the I-20 corridor will generally be just above freezing, between 32-35F. Some bridges and overpasses could ice early in the morning in the Birmingham, Anniston and Gadsden areas.
During the morning, the precipitation will change to all snow over the Tennessee Valley. By late afternoon, it will spread southwestward to the US-78/280 corridor, meaning it will be snow at Hamilton, Jasper, Cullman, Gadsden, Annsiton and Alex City. Light to moderate snow will fall through the evening hours, gradually pushing eastward into Georgia after midnight.
Snowfall accumulations could approach 4-6 inches over Northeast Alabama around Centre, Fort Payne and Gadsden.
In the US-78/280 corridor, including Hamitlon, Jasper, Birmingham, Childersburg: 1-3 inches of snow will accumulate by late Wednesday night.
Amounts southwest of there will taper quickly down to zero. Areas south of a line from Millport to Lake View to Jemison to south of Alex City and Opelika will see little if any snow accumulation.
The Winter Storm Warning and Winter Weather Advisory remain unchanged.
…Best chances for accumulations and travel problems overnight will be along and north of US-278.
…In the I-20 Corridor, a mix will fall (sleet, rain, some snow and a little freezing rain). The better chances of a little bridge or overpass icing will be between Birmingham and Anniston.
…If you must head out early tomorrow, it is imperative that you check the latest conditions.
…Snow will overspread the area during the afternoon. Pay close attention to the evolving situation and avoid being on the roads once the snow starts accumulating.
Having said all of that, it is very the very closest of calls.
Conditions are going downhill tonight to the west of Alabama. Here are some late developments:
…Heavier precipitation is spreading into the Jackson area at this time with temperatures in the 31-33F. The NWS warns that significant icing of bridges and overpasses will occur quickly.
…They have extended the Winter Storm Warning back through Natchez and into extreme northeastern Louisiana.
…The Jackson area is now under a Winter Storm Warning.
…0.10″ of ice at Hazehurst on exposed surfaces. Icicles starting to form.
…0.10″ of sleet in Winona.
…0.10″ of freezing rain at Clinton.
…Numerous reports of freezing rain across Madison Co, MS.
…Accumulating snow in Grenada.
…1.0 inch of snow in Greenville.
…1.4 inch of freezing rain at Winnsboro LA.
…Several cars stranded on the ramp from LA-3132 to I-20W in Shreveport from freezing rain.
…0.30″ of freezing rain fell earlier in Shreveport.
…Numerous reports of power outages around Shreveport/Bossier and around Longview TX.
FOR US HERE IN ALABAMA
…Moderate precipitation (rain and sleet) is moving into Pickens and Lamar Counties. It will move into fayette, Marion and Walker Counties.
Temperatures are 32-34F north of I-22, including 32F at Haleyville. There will even be a little additional cooling as the precipitation saturates the low levels of the atmosphere and temperatures at or below freezing. Folks in Marion, northern Lamar and Winston Counties up into the Huntsville area should expect a wintry mix of freezing, sleet and freezing rain over the next few hours. To the and south and southeast, where it is a little warmer, it will be a cold rain, with some patchy bridge and overpass icing later.
Temperatures will fall a few more degrees tonight, presenting the threat of freezing rain in the I-20 corridor especially around Birmingham. Concern is growing that this is a real possibility.
A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect for Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Etowah, Jefferson, Marion, St. Clair, Walker, Winston, Clay, Randolph, Shelby and Talladega Counties. Everyone in these counties should try to avoid travel tonight and tomorrow morning. If you must travel, you must check the latest road conditions and weather reports.
A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Fayette, Lamar, Bibb, Chambers, Chilton, Coosa, Tallapoosa and Tuscaloosa Counties. Icing is possible in these areas overnight, especially on bridges and overpasses.
This system has been full of surprises. Let’s hope it doesn’t have many more up its sleeve for Alabama.
*The storm system that is moving into Alabama is very dynamic. Good upper support, high moisture, and cold air damming that will bring in the cold air from the east. Radar is lighting up like a Christmas tree west of our state tonight over Mississippi, southern Arkansas, Louisiana, and East Texas.
Note the wind max at 500 mb moving into Alabama from the west…
*Rain will become widespread across Alabama during the next few hours. Some sleet has been reported over the western side of the state, but it is mostly liquid. Temperature are generally in the mid to upper 30s along the I-20 corridor, and we expect just a cold rain tonight for cities like Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Anniston.
*To the north, it is colder. There could be some freezing rain/sleet/snow issues after midnight generally north of U.S. 278 (Hamilton to Cullman to Gadsden), with potential for hazardous driving.
*The big problem comes tomorrow as a strong surface low spins up just below Mobile, and cold air is pulled into Alabama from the east. We project freezing rain/sleet/snow over Northeast Alabama early tomorrow morning, with rain elsewhere. The line between a cold rain and snow and ice will move southwest during the morning, and by midday freezing rain or snow should be relatively widespread over East Alabama.
The change to freezing rain and snow should begin in Birmingham sometime between 12:00 and 4:00 p.m.
*There is great concern that a long period of freezing rain over East Alabama tomorrow (rain in liquid form that falls with surface temperatures below 32 degrees) will result in significant ice accumulation. Maybe even enough ice for power outages. Some of the counties that will see the highest risk of significant ice are Cleburne, Calhoun, Randolph, Clay, and Chambers. Even some chance of significant ice into Lee and Tallapoosa Counties as well.
*As the low pulls to the northeast and strengthens, dynamic cooling will become more pronounced, and a deformation axis might set up, meaning enhanced upward motion and potential for a band of very heavy snow. Where this happens nobody really knows, but there is clearly a shot of some big snow amounts somewhere over Northeast Alabama tomorrow afternoon and into the evening hours.
*The southern edge of the snow and ice will be roughly along a line from Hamilton to Birmingham to Sylacauga to Lafayette. It will be mostly a cold rain south and west of this line. It correlates with the winter storm warning.
*There is high potential for a crippling ice storm east of Alabama tomorrow and tomorrow night through much of North and Central Georgia, and South Carolina. Some people could be without power for over a week in these areas. Far East-Central Alabama could have major ices issues as well, as discussed above.
*I have seen a little of the 00Z model runs, and I honestly don’t trust them. Better to just look for radar and satellite trends. Clearly this system has the potential to “overperform” tonight and tomorrow, and the snow/ice forecasts below from the NWS might have to be ramped up some in places. Stay tuned to the blog overnight and tomorrow for updates…
*There could be enough snow and ice for travel issues to continue into Thursday morning across parts of Alabama as temperatures go below freezing.
*On a positive note, a warming trend begins Thursday afternoon, and we reach the low 60s by Sunday!
As we wait on round two of our wintry precip to arrive later this evening, it is interesting to see the trends to our west, as they could be impacting Alabama later tonight. The next phase of this winter storm is developing and we are beginning to see a precip shield expand in coverage as it heads east. It will be moving into Alabama the next few hours.
First off lets talk current conditions across the state. Highs did not climb as high today as model data suggested. There has been a north wind blowing across a snow pack just to our north. The warmest Birmingham has made it today has been 37. Models predicted lower 40s for today. This means that it will be easier to reach the freezing mark later tonight.
We are seeing moisture increasing across the area as the radar image is beginning to fill in. We will see these showers spread across Alabama through the overnight hours. However, we are watching an area of low pressure in the western Gulf of Mexico. It will be moving northeast overnight and is expected to move onshore during the day tomorrow near Pensacola, Florida. For a classic winter storm for Alabama, a low lifting northeast out of the Gulf is almost a necessity and that is what we shall have tomorrow. As the low pumps moisture north and slides to our east, it will pull south additional cold air. With the over running precip, there will be some significant accumulations across portions of the Southeast, and I think this could be a possibility for portions of eastern Alabama.
Now to our friends to the west in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Temperatures throughout this area continue to be at or below the freezing mark. The NWS in Jackson has extended their winter weather alerts further south. They have expressed concern today of a growing threat of a significant freezing rain event developing over some of their counties since temperatures did not get as warm as expected today. This seem likely to begin to happen in the next few hours.
Storm reports from the NWS Shreveport show freezing rain and sleet falling across northern Louisiana. Glazing on roadways is already occurring and travel conditions are becoming treacherous. Multiple cars have been reported sliding off I-20 in northern Louisiana. There are reports of ice coating trees and bridges through the area as well. The ASOS at Shreveport has reported over 0.25″ of icing the last hour with a temperature of 30F. Sleet is covering the ground, roads are slushy, and icicles are hanging from utility lines.l
As the precipitation moves into Alabama, similar conditions will develop where temperatures are at or below 32F. This most like area for this is shown on this graphic from the NWS:
Now south of this icing forecast area, it should just be a cold rain. BUT, we caution everyone to check the latest conditions before making any travel decisions for late tonight or early tomorrow morning across the area.
Once we get through this threat in the morning, snow will be the problem tomorrow afternoon and tomorrow night as colder air in pulled into Alabama on the back side of the low. The GFS and the European are in excellent agreement that there will be accumulating snows possibly as far south as a line from Millport to Lake View to Thorsby to Eclectic and Auburn. More travel problems can be expected tomorrow night and Thursday morning in areas where roads become snow covered.
Here is the NWS snowfall accumulation forecast graphic:
A reminder of the alerts across Alabama can be seen below. As the event unfold, certainly counties could be added to the warnings and advisories. This is a very tricky forecast as the models are not handling this event very well. I urge people to pay attention and check conditions in the morning The could be some freezing rain ongoing along the Interstate 20 corridor tonight and make no plans about traveling around tomorrow as this will be a prolonged winter weather event. Travel conditions are only going to deteriorate overnight and become treacherous. There will likely be some surprises along the way tonight and into tomorrow. Continue to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.
The winter storm that is affecting much of the country is getting some rarely used descriptions, such as historic and crippling and life threatening, especially in areas east of Alabama.
The system will have some of its greatest impacts right along I-20, with significant ice accumulations expected tonight through Wednesday from possibly eastern Alabama through the Atlanta area eastward through Augusta and Columbia.
Over an INCH of ice accumulation is expected around Augusta, GA to Orangeburg, SC.
Over one half inch is expected for places like Athens, GA and Columbia, SC, as well as Sumter, SC and Florence SC. This area will experience widespread power outages.
Atlanta is expecting between 0.25″ and 0.50″ inches of accumulating ice.
Remember, anything over 1/4 inch will cause power outages, and thorwing in winds gusting to 25 mph at times, major power outages are expected.
FROM THE NWS ATLANTA ICE STORM WARNING MESSAGE:
IMPACTS…THESE HIGH ICE ACCUMULATION AMOUNTS WILL MAKE TRAVEL
IMPOSSIBLE. THIS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A CATASTROPHIC EVENT.
WIDESPREAD AND EXTENDED POWER OUTAGES ARE LIKELY AS ICE
ACCUMULATES ON TREES AND POWERLINES AND BRINGS THEM DOWN.
PLEASE PREPARE TO BE WITHOUT POWER IN SOME LOCATIONS FOR DAYS
AND PERHAPS AS LONG AS A WEEK. ONCE THE ICE BEGINS TO MELT ON
THURSDAY AND FRIDAY…FALLING ICE FROM BRIDGES AND OVERPASSES
WILL CREATE AN ADDITIONAL HAZARD.
…An ice storm warning is issued instead of a winter storm warning when the impacts from the storm are expected to be more of the freezing rain variety that from snow.
…Recon flights are actually being flown over the Gulf of Mexico in order to gather additional data for model input. How cool is that?
Get ready for “phase two” of the dual barrel winter storm impacting the southern U.S.
Winter storm warnings are up for much of North and East Alabama late tonight and tomorrow…
The highest impact of this second phase will be east of a line from Hamilton to Birmingham to Lafayette.
SNOW: Heaviest snow in Alabama will come over the northeast counties of the state, where amounts in the 2 to 4 inch range are possible north and east of Gadsden. We note the National Weather Service in Huntsville is going to mention 5 to 8 inches of snow up in the Tennessee Valley for Madison, Jackson, Marshall, and DeKalb Counties. This is a major winter storm.
Snow amounts taper off to a dusting to one inch from Fayette to Birmingham to Alex City. The heavier snow amounts will be north and east of Birmingham. Tuscaloosa will have mostly a cold rain.
ICE: Freezing rain could bring ice accumulation of over .20″ to parts of East Alabama.
TIMING: A large mass of rain will move into Alabama tonight. Initially, the best chance of any freezing or frozen precipitation will come north of U.S. 278 (Hamilton to Gadsden to Cullman) tonight, perhaps as early as 9 p.m. to midnight, where a mix of freezing rain, sleet, snow, and rain is possible. For many places south of U.S. 278, it will be mostly a cold rain during the night with temperatures in the mid 30s.
Colder air will move into Alabama from the northeast due to the cold air damming (CAD) effect, and the precipitation will change all snow during the day tomorrow. The rain/snow line will most likely move from northeast to southwest. Calling the exact time of the change is very difficult, but for Birmingham it could be midday before it happens. The precipitation much of the day will be snow or freezing rain for cities to the east like Anniston and Gadsden.
THURSDAY: The weather improves, but temperatures will be below freezing Thursday morning, and travel still could greatly impacted across North and East Alabama.
IMPACT: Snow, sleet, and freezing rain will make for dangerous driving conditions again. Initially on bridges and overpasses, but major and secondary roads will become icy and dangerous as well as the precipitation increases through the day tomorrow.
I am also concerned about ice accumulation over East-Central Alabama counties like Calhoun, Cleburne, Randolph, Clay, and Chambers. CAD patterns like this can bring very cold surface temperatures into Alabama from the east, this is where some power outages are possible. I would have enough supplies/medicine for a day or two if you are in this area.
IMPORTANT POINT: This “phase two” event is more dynamic than the first one, and will have the potential for very significant winter weather to parts of North and East Alabama late tonight and tomorrow. No, this is no “Blizzard of 93″, but it is a similar type storm that will have very high societal impacts for the Southeast U.S. The National Weather Service, in describing the ice/snow potential from Atlanta to Raleigh, is using words like “paralyzing,mind-boggling, and historic” in describing the storm. A crippling ice storm is likely from Atlanta to Augusta to Columbia (SC) east of Alabama.
Be ready for forecast changes and updates as we get into this. I will almost guarantee you there will be surprises, and if anything we might be under forecasting the event over East and Northeast Alabama.
TO THE SOUTH AND WEST: It will be a cold, soaking rain for South Alabama, and much of West-Central Alabama.
UNCERTAINTY: Like “phase one”, calling the southern periphery of the ice/snow is the hardest call here. The NWS has issued a “winter weather advisory for Bibb, Chambers, Chilton, Coosa, Tallapoosa, and Tuscaloosa Counties, but this is in the boundary zone, and understand these counties could see either a cold rain, or some ice/snow. Even Birmingham very close to the boundary; Bessemer could wind up with a cold rain, while Trussville has two inches of snow. A 30-40 mile error is very possible on the southern flank of the freezing/frozen precipitation.
We will have frequent updates as we go through this event together, so stay tuned. The good news is that we warm up this weekend, with 60s possible by Sunday….
Here is the latest graphic on the new Winter Weather Alerts for another round of the wintry precip to impact the state tonight. The Winter Storm Warning has been extended south one row of counties and so as the Winter Weather Advisory. Additional accumulations of rain/freezing rain/sleet/snow/ice will occur tonight and Wednesday as a second wave of wintry precip will impact Alabama. Travel will be impacted, make no plans to be out on the roads later tonight and Wednesday. See post below for a detailed meteorological explanation of the forecast the next 24-36 hours.
Hockey games feature three periods. This event in Alabama weather is like a hockey game.
The first period played out about as expected across Alabama with a significant snow across North Alabama and temperatures that were able to cool to freezing or just below down to I-20 causing glazing on exposed surface and a nice adornment for the trees without bringing down any power lines. Roads have been good in the I-20 corridor though with no travel problems reported.
Now we are in the intermission waiting for the second period, which starts tonight. Already radars to the west are seeing increasing precipitation across southern Oklahoma, northern Texas and Northwest Louisiana ahead of the next wave in an active southern jet stream.
The morning run of the NAM treats this entirely as a rain event tonight with the exception of the northwest corner of the state, where it predicts freezing rain. Most of the state experiences only a cold rain overnight.
But we are not buying this as the solution to model our forecast for the next 36-48 hours. That is because it does not seem to be taking the wedge effects into account at all, nor the really cold temperature that are in place over North Alabama right now in the snow area.
The GFS seems to have a better handle on the situation. And it even understates the potential for freezing rain tonight in North Alabama tonight. Let’s go through time using the GFS precip type graphics to explain the story.
Here is the evening period from 6 p.m. to midnight.
It shows freezing rain over northern Louisiana into northern Mississippi. But the freezing line may well be south of where the model thinks and this will result in more widespread freezing rain from the Mississippi Delta into North Alabama. On this graphic, the freezing line is shown as a curved purple line.
This means freezing rain will be a problem tonight in the areas that saw snowfall today from Lamar and Marion Counties eastward through Cullman and Blount into Etowah, Cherokee and perhaps even Calhoun and Cleburne Counties.
This trend continues though the overnight hours with icing continuing for places like Hamilton, Cullman, Guntersville, Gadsden, Centre and perhaps even Anniston.
For areas to the south, including Tuscaloosa, Anniston and Birmingham, it will be a cold rain, although we can’t rule out it being colder in spots and having some freezing rain develop,
Here is the map for 6 a.m.:
The freezing rain threat will continue into the morning hours from Calhoun and Cleburne Counties northward into Cherokee and Etowah Counties> Notice the snow starting to develop over the Tennessee Valley though. As colder air spreads southward on the back side of the Gulf low, precipitation will change to snow from north to south. This will represent the puck dropping for the third period.
That changeover should occur in the Birmingham area by early afternoon and by nightfall, snow will have spread as far south as I-20.
The snow could fall as far south as a line from Eutaw to Prattville to Lafayette before it moves into Georgia during the overnight hours.
This will mean significant icing tonight for North and Northeast Alabama as well as the potential for an accumulating snow tomorrow afternoon and tomorrow night for much of the northern half of the state. We will have more on the impacts and timing shortly. Stay tuned.
For now the NWS has made the following changes to their advisories:
…Winter Storm Warning canceled for Pickens and Tuscaloosa.
…Winter Weather Advisory canceled for Bibb, Greene, Hale and Sumter.
…Winter Weather Advisory continues for Clay, Randolph, Shelby, Talladega through midnight Wednesday night.
…Winter Storm Warning continues for Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Etowah, Fayette, Jefferson, Lamar, Marion, St. Clair, Walker, Winston through midnight Wednesday night.
HUNTSVILLE (ALABAMA COUNTIES ONLY)
….Winter Storm Warning continues for Cullman, De Kalb, Jackson, Lawrence, Marshall, Morgan til Thursday morning.
HUN continues Winter Storm Warning valid at Feb 12, 6:00 AM CST for Cullman, De Kalb, Jackson, Lawrence, Marshall, Morgan …Winter Weather Advisory canceled for Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Limestone and Madison Counties.
…Winter Storm Warning starting Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. for Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Limestone and Madison Counties running until 6 a.m. Thursday.
Temperatures have edged back up above freezing for most of the Birmingham Metro area. At 9 a.m. it was 33F at the BHM Airport. Things will continue to improve through the rest of the morning in the I-20 corridor.
Traffic is flowing smoothly on the major arteries around the Birmingham Metro at this hour and conditions will continue to improve.
To the north, it is a snow day from northern Lamar and Marion across Winston, Cullman, northern Blount, Marshall, Etowah, DeKalb and Cherokee Counties where widespread 2-6 inch snowfalls have been reported. Roads are snow covered and dangerous in these areas and travel should be avoided. Temperatures will not get above 32-33F
Precipitation is tapering off from the west now and is nearly over in Mississippi. More precipitation will move in tonight from the west however. Scroll down for more information on round 2 from James.
*The first wave of wintry precipitation behaved as forecast across Alabama last night and this morning. Snow for the U.S. 278 corridor, freezing rain/ice down to I-20, a cold rain below I-20. Heavier snows were over parts of Morgan, Cullman, Marshall, and DeKalb counties. Some 5 inch totals have been reported there.
*A very dynamic wave will generate a surface low on the old front in the northern Gulf of Mexico late tonight, and will spread rain back into Alabama tonight.
*Cold air damming (CAD) will bring colder air down into Northeast and East Alabama tonight and tomorrow. Computer models rarely handle CAD situations well, and it is often much colder than you might think over some East Alabama counties after a review of model data.
*The CAD situation will make for yet another challenging forecast. You will want to keep a close eye on the blog for updates over the next 36 hours.
*We will have a lull in the precipitation across Alabama this afternoon, but a large mass of rain moves back into the state tonight. We will monitor the northern counties for temperature trends, but it looks like a majority of the state will have just a cold rain tonight.
*Tomorrow, as colder air drains into Northeast Alabama, and dynamic cooling begins, rain will likely change to snow during the day, mainly over Northeast Alabama, with the rain-snow line moving southwest during the afternoon. This is the NWS snow projection…
*Snow is possible over Northeast Alabama during the pre-dawn hours tomorrow. If there is snow in the Birmingham metro, it won’t happen until late morning or early afternoon, and there is a real chance it will be just a cold rain through the entire event in Birmingham.
*I also am concerned about ice accumulation over Cleburne, Randolph, Chambers, and Lee counties in East-Central Alabama. CAD setups often bring very cold air into this part of the state, and with so much rain there is a chance significant ice accumulation could happen. But, we all know the difference in a degree or two makes the difference between a cold, rainy day and a nasty ice situation. It is a very close call for these counties.
*This has the potential to be a crippling and historic ice storm for Atlanta and much of North and Central Georgia. Extended power outages are likely, and people there need to rush preparations to completion for a devastating ice storm. Much of South Carolina will also go on ice, including places like Columbia.
*West Alabama should have just a soaking, cold rain with “round two”. Places like Tuscaloosa, Greensboro, Eutaw.
Much more as the day rolls along… stay tuned…
Temperatures continue to hover in the lower and middle 30s in the I-20 corridor, with 32F at Birmingham, 33F at Tuscaloosa and 34F at Anniston. Some patches of ice have formed on some roads and bridges in this area. Around the Birmingham area, most people have stayed home this morning. This is really helping minimize traffic problems.
Here is the radar, which shows precipitation diminishing from the west and a rough approximation of the freezing line at the surface:
But of course, it is colder at higher elevations. Saw report of 32F on Signal Mountain near Chelsea. Trees starting to ice there as well as porches.
In Jefferson County, roads are mainly wet, but several accidents have been reported in northern and northwestern parts of the county. Just heard a report of an accident on I-22 in northwestern Jefferson County.
Traffic is moving ok around the Birmingham area, although we are hearing reports of slow traffic inbound on I-20 around Moody and Leeds.
Getting lots of reports of ice accumulating on trees and exposed surfaces around Jefferson County. The heaviest accumulations are over northern Jefferson County around Warrior and Kimberly. 0.13″ of ice accretion reported at Warrior. Raised surfaces like decks and steps will be extremely hazardous. Be careful.
Temperatures will slowly rise above freezing in the Birmingham area over the next couple of hours and the threat of icy roads will ease.
It is a different story across North Alabama especially from Hamilton to Cullman through Marshall County along US-278 where 2-6 inches of snow has fallen. Temperatures in this area are in the lower and middle 20s and will have a hard time getting above freezing today.
Marion County roads are hazardous to impassable and Marion County Emergency Management has asked that travel be limited to emergencies. Same situation in Marshall County.
Ice is being reported on Etowah County roads this morning, including US-431 and on I-759. Recent report of 5.5 inches in Rainsville in DeKalb County going over the mountain between Fort Payne and Scottsboro. Roads are snow covered.
The Sipsey River Bridge on Highway 12 is iced over with an accident on the bridge. Bridges will be a problem in areas where the temperature is at or below freezing.
I-65 is increasingly a problem between Decatur and Cullman with major backups reported.
We will be examining model data shortly to start pinpointing the potential impacts from the second round of this system that will being more wintry precipitation to the area tomorrow.
The forecast is right on track this morning with significant accumulating snows in North Alabama generally along US-278. Freezing rain is occurring down to I-20. Exposed surfaces are glazed in this area and bridges will be icy in spots. Schools are closed across much of the area and not many people are on the roads across North and North Central Alabama. If you can stay put this morning, do so.
Roads are slick to impassable and travel is not recommended. Temperatures are in the middle and upper 20s and won’t go above freezing in many areas. Winter storm warning in effect for Cullman, De Kalb, Jackson, Lawrence, Marshall and Morgan Counties in Alabama until noon. A winter weather advisory is in effect for Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Limestone and Madison Counties.
* Light snow at Huntsville, Fort Payne, Cullman and Haleyville. 23F at Haleyville with snow covered roads.
* 3.5 inches of snow in Arab. Roads in Marshall County are very dangerous.
* 2″ in Holly Pond according to Bob Kusz with numerous wrecks reported on scanner
* 1-2″ in Hartselle, still snowing.
* Skycam shows good accumulations in Hamilton
* 1″ around Huntsville
* Roads are a “solid sheet of ice” around Athens
* 2″ around Vinemont in Cullman County
* 1″ of snow at Sand Rock in Cherokee County
* No snow or sleet accumulations in Jasper, but 32F with light freezing rain.
* I-65 NB was reported at a standstill north of Cullman between Vinemont and Falkville.
NORTH CENTRAL ALABAMA
Here is the radar at 7 a.m. with some recent freezing rain reports from the NWS:
Temperatures fell to 32F at the BHM Airport around 5 a.m. Still 32F at 6 a.m. It is 34F in Anniston. 35F at Calera.
In Tuscaloosa, the official reading at the airport was 34F but it is below freezing at our Skycam location in downtown. Starting to get reports of freezing rain resulted in icing on exposed surfaces in the city.
Winter storm warning remains in effect for Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Etowah, Fayette, Jefferson, Lamar, Marion, Pickens, St. Clair, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston Counties until late Wednesday night.
* Starting to see a light glaze developing on exposed surfaces in areas where temperatures are at or below freezing. This makes for dangerous conditions if you try to walk outside. Falls will be common. Don’t end up in the ER.
* Bridges will begin to ice soon in areas at or near 32F.
* Trees are iced in Hueytown (31F) according to John Talbot.
* Similar reports from McCalla and Gardendale with exposed surfaces glazed.
* Freezing rain with a glaze on exposed surface and roads in Fayette.
Stay put if you can and wait to see if temperatures warm above freezing later this morning across the I-20 corridor. That should occur by 10 .m. in the I-20 corridor.
SOUTH CENTRAL ALABAMA
A winter weather advisory continues for Bibb, Clay, Greene, Hale, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter and Talladega Counties.
From Eutaw and Demopolis to Centreville, on across Shelby County into Talladega and over to Roanoke, temperatures are generally in the middle 30s, with isolated spots near freezing. I saw a report of 32F near Jemison. Bridges and overpasses may become icy in spots.
Use extreme caution if you must travel in these areas, and just stay put until mid-morning if you can.
* Many flights canceled out of ATL, CLT and DFW and this is impacting flights from the Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport. Check with your airline if you have a flight.
**I won’t be able to produce a Weather Xtreme video this morning due to ongoing winter weather conditions. This first wave will taper off later this morning, and I should be able to produce one this afternoon*
ICY MESS: The forecast has been pretty much on track overnight. Lots of snow along the U.S. 278 corridor, icing issues just north of I-20 due to freezing rain. A few notes concerning the current situation.
*Cullman EMA has closed a number of streets within the city of Cullman, and all travel across Cullman County is discouraged.
*Icy roads and bridges are also reported across much of Winston and Blount Counties.
*Roads in Hamilton (Marion County) are slick and travel is discouraged.
*The Birmingham Airport is now reporting a temp of 32 degrees. Freezing line continues to inch southward. Bridge icing should begin very shortly in the B’ham metro.
*Ice accumulation reported north of Tuscaloosa, near Samantha (northern Tuscaloosa County).
*Sleet/snow/freezing rain around Gadsden with sub-freezing temperatures.
Here is the snow this morning at Fort Payne… photo from Gary Parker
IMPORTANT: The freeze line is moving south, meaning travel conditions could very deteroiate in Tuscaloosa and Anniston within the hour. Just because it is above freezing at 5:00 a.m. doesn’t mean it will be above freezing at 7:00 a.m. Bridge icing is very possible everywhere along I-20 within the next three hours. NWS continues a winter storm warning along and north of I-20.
THE DAY AHEAD: The wintry mix will taper off late this morning, and temperatures along the I-20 corridor will rise into the mid 30s easing any ice issues. However, to the north, I doubt if many places rise above freezing today, where snow and ice is an issue (places like Cullman, Hamilton, etc). This means hazardous driving conditions will continue through the day from roughly the U.S. 278 corridor north.
WINTER STORM, SECOND PHASE: The second wave of precipitation will move in tonight and tomorrow, and it will bring more winter weather woes to Alabama. A winter storm warning will remain in effect for much of North and East Alabama for this second impulse. The greatest risk of snow and ice will be north and east of a line from Florence to Birmingham to Auburn. We expect just a cold rain for much of West-Central Alabama… places like Tuscaloosa most likely will have no ice/snow problems.
Here is the NWS snow projection for “phase two”… tonight through tomorrow…
Higher snow totals, possibly in the 3-4 inch range, will be over Northeast Alabama, including Anniston and Gadsden. This is where colder air will drain into the state from the east; the “cold air damming” effect.
EAST-CENTRAL ALABAMA: I am also concerned over the potential for freezing rain and ice accumulation tomorrow over counties like Randolph, Chambers, and Lee. This is where the cold air won’t be deep enough for snow, and temperatures at the surface will be near or below freezing. If there is freezing rain here, there could be enough ice accumulation for power outages.
ATLANTA: This has the potential to be a crippling ice storm for Atlanta… and east to near Columbia, SC with a large amount of freezing rain and ice. Extended power outages are likely.
Our weather improves Thursday with a clearing sky, and the weekend ahead will be dry and mild with 60s likely by Sunday.
WEATHER BRAINS: Don’t forget you can listen to our weekly 90 minute netcast anytime on the web, or on iTunes. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including our meteorologists here at ABC 33/40.
CONNECT: You can find me on all of the major social networks…
We will have frequent updates during this “one-two punch” winter storm… stay tuned…
Now that temps have dropped to freezing in the Birmingham metro, there are a lot of reports of icing on elevated surfaces. Ice being reported on top of Red Mountain as well. Solid ice coating on parked cars throughout the county as freezing rain is being reported.
Marion and Winston counties have accumulating snow and we are seeing those totals add up. Over and inch on the ground and heavy snow still falling.
Cullman County EMA is reporting significant icing on roadways across the county. There has also been heavier accumulations of sleet and snow along the U.S. 278 corridor.
From Walker County, snow beginning to accumulate on grassy areas. Roads in Fayette County are beginning to see accumulations on them
Widespread bridge icing being reported north of the Interstate 20 currently. Blount County law enforcement reports several bridges that are icy.
Ice developing on power lines, bridges, and roads in northern Tuscaloosa County.
Rain, freezing rain, sleet being reported throughout Pickens, Lamar, Tuscaloosa, Etowah, and Cherokee counties.
I do not recommend any travel the next few hours. Let the precip stop and allow temps to warm later this morning.
Latest hourly observation from the Birmingham Airport now has the temperatures at 32 degrees with rain falling. Similar temps being reported across the metro area now. This will now lead to an enhancement of ice development. Throughout the early morning hours, there were reports of some light icing in the area on trees and elevated surfaces. Now that temps have reached freezing, roads and travel are going to be impacted.
The next couple of hours, the rain will continue to fall and the temp is expected to drop a few more degrees. This is setting the stage for the icing event that is forecast to happen this morning.