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The latest information on Alabama weather, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms, national weather headlines and the science of meteorology in general.
Updated: 17 min 30 sec ago

Tornado Watch Soon for North and Central Alabama

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 15:56

The latest from the SPC highlights the threat of a few strong tornadoes for the next few hours over western Alabama into Middle Tennessee.

The potential watch area is outlined in pink.

Click the image to enlarge the graphic and read the full discussion.


…Watch likely to be issued by 4 p.m.

…Low and mid level wind shear profiles are quite favorable for tornadic supercells.

…Instabilities have been weak but are increasing. CAPE values now between 500-1,000 j/kg over western Alabama.

…The cap over Central Alabama has been eroded.

Radar indicates tornado debris south of Newton, just south of I-20 in Mississippi. This tornado will cross the interstate and stay west and northwest of Meridian. This tornado warning is show in purple. The other tornado warnings that are in effect are show in red. Severe thunderstorm warnings are in yellow.

Categories: Weather

Three Tornadic Storms in Eastern Mississippi

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 15:44

There are three tornado warnings in eastern Mississippi right now.

One is just west of Starkville. The warning does not include the campus of Mississippi State University. That storm shows strong rotation but no debris signature right now. This one will move toward northern Lamar and Marion Counties. It will arrive in Alabama between 4 and 4:30 p.m.

Another is near Philadelphia. It may affect Pickens County in about two hours as well.

The final one is southwest of Meridian. It could affect Sumter County later.

Over the rest of Central Alabama, storms over Bibb County will move into the Birmingham area within the hour. They are not severe at this time but could become severe. Other showers are lifting through the western part of the Birmingham Metro currently.

More storms over Perry, Marengo and Dallas Counties will take a similar route.

Categories: Weather

Everyone Knows It’s Windy (and Warm)

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 15:21

Who’s tripping down the streets of the city
Smilin’ at everybody she sees
Who’s reachin’ out to capture a moment
Everyone knows it’s Windy

Do you remember that song by The Association? It certainly applies to today’s weather.

This graphic shows the center of the low pressure system west of Kansas City and the surface wind field across the U.S.

Note how our surface winds over Central Alabama are “backed”, which means they are coming more out of the southeast that southwest (veered). This is a critical piece in tornado formation and it worries us about the tornado threat as long as we have instability this afternoon and evening.

Potentially tornadic storms are over eastern Mississippi at this hour. There is strong rotation east of Ackerman MS west of Columbus, but no tornado debris signature yet.

Back to the winds. Some peak wind gusts so far today:

Birmingham International Airport…31 mph
Shelby County Airport…26 mph
Tuscaloosa…31 mph
Anniston…33 mph
Muscle Shoals…35 mph
Huntsville…41 mph
Columbus MS…29 mph

It is also warm. Check out these 2 p.m. temperatures/dewpoints:


The record for today at Birmingham is 77F. We will be very close.

The barometer is getting low as well:
Muscle Shoals…29.76
The low pressure center is centered west of Kansas City at this hour, with a minimum pressure of 994 millibars or 29.35 inches.

Categories: Weather

Tornado Threat Increasing for Eastern Mississippi, Eventually West Alabama

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 14:54

The SPC just issued a mesoscale discussion for the increasing tornado threat over eastern Mississippi.

Here is a current graphic showing the satellite, radar, temperatures, the area covered by the mesoscale discussion in Mississippi.

Click image to enlarge.

This activity will of course push into western Alabama between 3 and 4 p.m.

The airmass across western Alabama is increasingly unstable, with CAPE values already between 1000-15000 joules/kg.

Categories: Weather

Tornado Watches Issued

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 14:35

A few things to note from the graphic:

…A tornado watch has now been issued for northern Mississippi, western Tennessee, western Kentucky and small parts of eastern Arkansas, southern Illinois and the Missouri Bootheel. It goes until 7 p.m.

…A new tornado watch has also been issued for parts of southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southwestern Alabama and the extreme NW Florida Panhandle. It includes New Orleans Biloxi, Mobile, Greenville, Evergreen, Monroeville, Atmore and Pensacola. It will go until 7 p.m. as well.

…The airmass across eastern Arkansas, eastern Louisiana, southwestern Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana has been moderately unstable, with CAPE values between 1000-2000 j/kg. The temperature and dewpoint is 70/68F at Jackson and 71F/67F at Meridian at this hour.

…There is still some capping across much of Alabama and northeastern Mississippi. That is eroding quickly. Storms will be able to form after that.

…Strong storms have formed over Central Mississippi. There is a severe thunderstorm warning west of Philadelphia.

…With some sun, temperatures have become quite warm over Central Alabama. It is now 75F/60F at the Birmingham Airport and 76F/65F at Tuscaloosa.

Categories: Weather

SPC Expands Enhanced Risk Area; Several School Systems Dismissing Early

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 12:00

The morning update to the SPC severe weather outlook expanded the enhanced risk area to include much of the northwestern half of Alabama. The enhanced risk area now extends from Louisville KY to just east of Memphis and Nashville to Jackson MS and just east of Birmingham to just north of Mobile.

The tornado risk is basically unchanged, but the 30% damaging wind risk was expanded. The hail risk remains fairly low.

Parents: please note than many school systems over West and Northwest Alabama are dismissing early. Check with your sources to determine when.

Here is a weather update as we approach the 11 o’clock hour:

…instability is increasing across Mississippi, especially along the Mississippi River, south of Memphis. Storms are now well established in this zone.
…storms are growing in scale over southeastern Louisiana into southern Mississippi.
…the sun is out at least partially across much of Central Alabama. The temperature has already reach 70F at Calera and is at 68F at Birmingham and 69F at Tuscaloosa.
…dewpoints are now in the lower 60s west of I-65.
…the airmass over Mississippi is capped, meaning there is an inversion that is suppressing convection and even clouds. This is allowing the kettle to slowly simmer. It will reach the boiling point soon.
…the SPC just said that they will be issuing a tornado watch in the next couple of hours for a large part of Missisisppi and part of eastern Louisiana.
…the NWS in Birmingham will release a special upper air balloon at 11 a.m.
…we will have to see how the storms ahead of the line evolve and how the timing of the main line of storms shakes out.

Categories: Weather

Storms Have Already Formed Over Northwest Alabama

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 09:18

Good morning!

We are settling in for a long day and night of monitoring severe weather here at AlabamaWX. We will have frequent updates throughout the day of the thinking about the meteorology and of course a running account of developments as soon as watches and warnings happen.

Click image to enlarge.

Showers and storms have already formed over Northwest Alabama this morning near a northward lifting warm front in an area of deep moisture convergence in the low levels of the atmosphere. When air comes together near the surface (converges) and diverges aloft, you get lift. The air piles up and has to go somewhere. The result is showers and storms.

One storm formed over northern Lamar and Fayette Counties about 7:15 and pushed across Marion County. It is now over Winston County between Haleyville and Double Springs.

It is mild and increasingly humid over Central Alabama. Dewpoints are already in the upper 50s, approaching 60F. The DP at Meridian is 63F and 66F at Jackson MS. Temperatures are in the middle 60s.

Showers and some thunder will continue over West Alabama through the morning, but that will not pose a severe threat.

Showers and storms will fire over northern Mississippi into southern Tennesse by late morning and will move into western Kentucky later. These will pose a significant severe threat, including the possibility of a couple of strong tornadoes as well as damaging winds.

For us, the first of two main threats will come just after midafternoon, when storms start forming in the unstable airmass over Central and eastern Mississippi. These storms will push into West Central Alabama starting about 4-5 p.m. and will continue into the late evening. They will have the potential to also produce damaging winds and a couple of strong tornadoes.

The final threat will last the longest as a line of thunderstorms enters West Alabama starting around 9-11 p.m., congeals with the ongoing storms across that part of the state and pushes across the rest of the area during the night. This activity should clear the Hamilton area around midnight, the Jasper/Tuscaloosa/Cullman areas around 1-3 a.m., the Birmingham/Gadsden around 2-4 a.m. and the Anniston/Alex City area around 5-7 a.m. It should finally clear Auburn around 7-9 a.m.

We have said it so many times in the past 7 days. Assess your severe weather safety plan and go over it with your family and co-workers. Monitor the weather throughout the day and night and have a way to receive warnings. Think about where you will be during the threat times this afternoon and tonight and know where you would go if a warning was issued whether that is at work, home or anywhere else. Plan your travel so it does not coincide with the time that severe weather is expected.

Don’t be alarmed. Be informed. Knowledge is the best antidote to a fear of severe weather.

Stay with us here at AlabamaWX throughout the day for the very latest on the developing weather situation.

Categories: Weather

Severe Weather Threat Later Today/Tonight

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 07:17

THIS MORNING: Temperatures are in the low 60s across much of North/Central Alabama early this morning; the sky is mostly cloudy, and not much is showing on radar.

Scattered showers could form later this morning and early this afternoon, but the focus of this discussion is on the severe weather threat for Alabama late today and tonight. SPC has expanded the “enhanced risk” of severe weather on their new severe weather outlook for today…

I would say the threat is still not clear cut, limiting factors include weak lapse rates, and warmer air aloft in the 15,000-20,000 foot range that could keep instability values low. But, while the thermodynamics are questionable, the dynamics are certainly robust for severe weather with a strong low level jet and significant bulk shear values.

PLACEMENT/MODES: The highest risk of a tornado will come over that “enhanced” risk area late this afternoon and early tonight (west of a line from Scottsboro to Birmingham to Thomasville), but the risk of a tornado to the east over the “slight” risk is certainly not zero. Perhaps the greatest risk tonight is from strong, possibly damaging straight line winds as line of storms evolves. Stronger storms are also capable of producing some hail.

TIMING: A few discrete storms could form over West Alabama after 3:00 p.m… the core threat for the state will run from the early evening through the late night hours, although the severe weather threat will fade after midnight as the main dynamic support lifts away, and the air becomes more stable.

RAIN: Rain totals could approach two inches in some spots, and some isolated flooding problems are not out of the question.

GRADIENT WINDS: Away from storms, south winds will gust to 25/30 mph at times this evening. A wind advisory is in effect for the northern two-thirds of Alabama.

CALL TO ACTION: As always, be sure you are in a position to hear warnings if they are needed, have a plan of action, and a readiness kit in your safe place. See this post I wrote before Christmas on specific things to do.

TOMORROW: Rain ends tomorrow morning, and we should begin to see some clearing tomorrow afternoon as drier air works into the state; still pretty pleasant with a high in the low to mid 60s.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: These two days will be cool and dry. Coldest morning will come early Friday when upper 20s are likely… highs will be in the low to mid 50s.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Saturday stays cool and dry with a high in the 50s… then on Sunday a surface low will pass south of here; this feature should push clouds into the state, and some light rain is possible, mainly south and east of Birmingham. Parts of North Alabama could hold in the 40s all day Sunday.

NEXT WEEK: A pretty good cold shot is due in here by mid-week; we might have a hard time getting out of the 30s Wednesday or Thursday… see the Weather Xtreme video for maps, graphics, and more details.

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. Scroll down for the show notes on the new episode we recorded last night.

CONNECT: You can find me on all of the major social networks…

Google Plus

Stay tuned to the blog for updates on the severe weather situation through the day…

Categories: Weather

WeatherBrains 524: Groundhog Ensemble

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 06:15

WeatherBrains Episode 524 is now online (February 1, 2016). If you are crazy about weather, this is THE netcast audio program for you!

Our Guest WeatherBrain for this episode is Jason Bowman. For over 30 years, he has been studying and forecasting the weather. Over the past 10 years, he’s found that social media has provided atmospheric scientists and broadcast meteorologists with the ability to follow our passion, as well as share our knowledge to keep people safe and also entertained. Like many atmospheric scientists, Jason was born with the love of the weather. At a young age, Jason would create winter forecasts for his family and classmates, dreaming for the day he could provide millions with their personalized weather conditions.

In 1992, Jason went to the State University of New York in Albany. Jason forecasted at WNYT, the NBC affiliate in Albany NY. After graduation in May, 1996, Jason shifted his focus to the advertising industry, working for organizations such as National Geographic and MTV. While fine tuning his business management skills, Jason would continue to forecast on the Facebook page he created prior to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. With rapid growth of the Facebook forecast page, Jason co-created My Weather Concierge®, a new and unique mobile weather app, powered by a group of tremendously talented forecasters. My Weather Concierge provides you with handcrafted weather forecasts for cities across the country, 365 days a year with direct access to their forecaster to help them through any weather related situation. Planning a trip? Getting married? Safety of children at camp or on snow days for school. Jason’s goal for the mobile app was to provide a personalized forecast for any occasion.

In late winter of 2015, Jason was approached by The Weather Channel to appear on a new video based show called “Weather Gone Viral” and appeared on STARS XM SIRIUS as a weather expert to discuss the Blizzard of 2014. Today, Jason continues to develop his mobile platform forecasting center and is a winter weather expert and a Long Range Forecasting Analyst.

Other discussions in this weekly podcast include topics like:

  • Extremes: 95 at Cotulla, TX, and -21 at Old Faithful, WY
  • SPC has enhanced risk area for Day 2 in the Southeast US
  • Same storm kicking up blizzard from Colorado to Wisconsin
  • Astronomy Outlook with Tony Rice
  • and more!

Our email bag officer has her hands on the pulse of our email and comments from listeners.

From The Weather Center:

WeatherBrains 101: This week on the 101 episode we take a look at the latest on the polar orbiting satellites under the name of Suomi-NPP. What does that name stand for and just what do the polar orbiting satellites provide?

Listener Surveys: Okay, we continue to drive this topic into the ground, but we really do like to hear from you. Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to fill out the Listener Survey. The survey takes just a minute or two to complete and provides us with an opportunity to learn where you are and hear your thoughts and comments on the show. Click here to take the survey.

Web Sites from Episode 524:

My Weather Concierge

John Huntington’s Snow Time Lapse

To subscribe to the brand new SkyWritings, an email newsletter from the WeatherBrains gang, click HERE.

Picks of the Week:

Jason Bowman – Shoutout to Mayor of New York City who dropped Charlotte, the groundhog

Nate Johnson – GOES 1-Minute Data

Brian Peters – SPC Interactive Tornado Outbreak site

John Scala – Meteorological Model Ensemble River Forecasts

Kevin Selle – Gets the fog horn!

James Spann – SPC state-by-state outlook graphics

Aubrey Urbanowicz – NCDC Groundhog Day web site

SkyDavers Blog – The Fog Bank

The WeatherBrains crew includes your host, James Spann, plus other notable geeks like Nate Johnson, Bill Murray, Dr. John Scala, Aubrey Urbanowicz, Rick Smith, Kevin Selle, and Brian Peters. They bring together a wealth of weather knowledge and experience for another fascinating netcast about weather.

WeatherBrains is a proud affiliate of NetAtmo Weather Stations.

Easy to install and affordable. Get your’s today!

You can monitor your data on iOS 4 or higher, Android 4.0 or higher, or a Windows Phone 8.0 or higher.

Categories: Weather

Severe Weather Threat Begins Tomorrow Afternoon

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 16:20

LIKE SPRING: Temperatures have soared into the low 70s across most of Central Alabama this afternoon with intervals of sunshine. We do have showers on radar, but they are scattered, and mostly over far North Alabama, and across the southeast part of the state. A few showers are possible tonight, but they will be widely spaced.

ACTIVE WEATHER AHEAD: A deepening surface low will move across the Great Plains tomorrow, with heavy snow in the cold air just north of the low track. But, needless to say, we are in the warm sector, and temperatures tomorrow will again push toward the low 70s, with dewpoints rising into the mid 60s. The air will become unstable by afternoon, with surface based CAPE values between 500 and 1000 j/kg.

With the approaching upper dynamics, it looks like strong to severe storms will begin to form by late afternoon across North Alabama, and severe weather still looks likely.

PLACEMENT: The highest severe weather probabilities are in the “enhanced” severe weather outlook region, which is generally along and west of a line from Huntsville to Tuscaloosa. But, understand severe storms are possible into parts of East Alabama as well tomorrow night.

MODES: Storms that fire late tomorrow afternoon and tomorrow evening will be cellular in nature, and those could produce a few tornadoes, especially over Northwest Alabama. Storms are also capable of producing large hail and damaging straight line winds. Activity should evolve into a long line of storms tomorrow night after 9:00 p.m.

TIMING: Storms should begin to form soon after 3:00 p.m. over West Alabama… highest tornado threat will come from 3:00 until 8:00 p.m… after that the risk will be more from damaging straight line winds as the line forms.

RAIN: Rain amounts around one inch are likely, but the line will slow down over East Alabama after midnight tomorrow night, and some spots could see up to 2 inches there, which could mean some risk of flooding.

CALL TO ACTION: As always, be sure you are in a position to hear warnings if they are needed, have a plan of action, and a readiness kit in your safe place. See this post I wrote before Christmas on specific things to do.

WEDNESDAY: Rain will end early in the day, followed by gradual clearing with a high at or just over 60 degrees.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: These two days will be cool and dry with highs in the 50s; coldest morning will come early Friday, when upper 20s are possible.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Saturday will be mostly sunny and cool with a high in the mid 50s; clouds will slowly increase Sunday, and some light rain could arrive Sunday night. Heaviest rain will come over the southern half of the state Sunday.

NEXT WEEK: Still seeing signals of a shot of pretty cold air down into the eastern half of the U.S. toward the middle of next week; see the Weather Xtreme video for maps, graphics, and more details…

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. We will produce this week’s show tonight at 8:30 CT… you can watch it here.

CONNECT: You can find me on all of the major social networks…

Google Plus

I had a great time today visiting with 1st graders at Vestavia Hills Cahaba Heights Elementary… and Calera Elementary… be looking for them on the Pepsi KIDCAM today at 5:00 and 6:00 on ABC 33/40 News! The next Weather Xtreme video will be posted here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow…

Categories: Weather

A Look Back, A Look Ahead

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 11:00

Looking back at the climate numbers for January in Birmingham and looking ahead to what we usually can expect in February:

The mean temperature for January 2016 at Birmingham was 42.5F, which is slightly cooler than the 43.8F average mean. The average high for the month was 52F and the average low was 33.1F. These values are 1.9 and 1.2 degrees below their respective long-term averages.

The mercury dropped to freezing or colder 17 times in January 2016, slightly more than the 14.9 times that we average. The coldest reading was 19F on the 19th. The warmest was the 72F we saw yesterday.

A total of 3.28 inches of precipitation fell in the month, well short of the average 4.84 inches we would expect. Rain fell on 6 days, something that usually occurs on 10.5 days on average.

A trace of snow was reported. On average, we receive 0.6 inches of the white stuff. In January, we experienced thunder on one day, something that occurs on average 1.9 times in the month.

A rough approximation shows that we received about 55% of normal sunshine this month, up from the 41% we usually see in our gloomiest month. So if you were a little chilly last month, at least you had a little extra sunshine to show for it!


February 2nd is Candlemas Day. It is the traditional midpoint of winter. You know it as Groundhog Day. By early February, Alabama is beginning to really feel the move toward spring. Days are lengthening and average temperatures are slowing warming as the amount of sunshine increases each day. At the beginning of the month, the average high and low for Birmingham is 55F/35F. By the end of the month, the averages are 62F and 40F. On average, the mercury drops to freezing or below on 9.7 nights, down slightly from the 114.9 in January.

Birmingham’s coldest day on record (-10F) occurred on February 13, 1899, during the mother of all U.S. cold waves. Records in Birmingham were kept at the U.S. Weather Bureau Office in Fountain Heights then. If the observation had been made at the current Airport location, the all time low would probably be -14F. The warmest February reading on record in Birmingham is 83F, recorded on three different dates in history.

February is the middle month in the wettest three month period on average in the Magic City. During our “rainy season,” we typically receive just under 15 inches of rain. On average, 4.53 inches of rain falls in Birmingham in February. 17.67 inches fell in February 1961, the wettest second month observed here. February 1968 saw only 1.20 inches of rain, the driest February ever. The 6.00 inches of rain that fell on February 7, 1903 is the daily record for the month.

Typically, it will rain on 10 days in February and thunderstorms occur on 2.3 days. By these measurements, February looks a lot like January. On average, Birmingham receives a 0.1 inches of snow in February. The greatest daily amount of snow observed in the city is 5 inches on February 23, 1901.

After January, which features the lowest percentage of possible sunshine at 41%, February is sunnier featuring 50% of possible sunshine on average, moving toward the sunniest month, May which features 66% of possible sunshine on average. Fog reduces visibility to ¼ mile or less on one day during the month.

Categories: Weather

Active Storm System Forming To The West

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 07:38

SPRING-LIKE: We are starting this day with temperatures in the low 60s at daybreak, and again today we will rise into the low 70s in many places this afternoon. The sky will be mostly cloudy, however, and a few scattered showers are possible. In fact, we have a few showers on radar at sunrise…

TO THE WEST: A major storm system is forming, and will produce big snow today for places like Denver and Albuquerque. Winter storm warnings are up from Denver to Green Bay, with blizzard warnings up for parts of Nebraska and Iowa, north of the surface low track.

OUR SEVERE WEATHER THREAT: That system will bring the threat of strong to severe thunderstorms to the southern U.S. tomorrow and tomorrow night. Best dynamic support will be a little north of Alabama, and lapse rates are somewhat marginal, but parameters are certainly sufficient for severe weather in our state. See the Weather Xtreme video for a meteorological discussion on the setup.

The SPC “enhanced” risk area has been playing the hokey pokey over the weekend… adjusting to the right and to the left; today the risk looks much like it did Friday. Here is the “Day Two” severe weather outlook, with projected “highest risk” times added by me.

THREATS/PLACEMENT: The highest risk of a tornado or two will be in the “enhanced” risk area, which is along and west of a line from Huntsville to Tuscaloosa. Understand a tornado is possible in other parts of the state, but the threat is generally lower east of that “enhanced” risk. Tomorrow night the storms will evolve into a long squall line, and the greatest threat with the passage of that line will come from strong, perhaps damaging straight line winds. The line should weaken slowly east of I-65 as the upper dynamics lift away from the region, and the air become more stable.

We should mention a few storms could produce large hail as well.

TIMING: A few severe storms could form over far West and Northwest Alabama as early as 3:00 p.m. tomorrow, but for most places the core threat will come from 5:00 p.m. until 12:00 midnight.

RAIN: Rain amounts will approach one inch for most communities, not enough for flooding concerns.

CALL TO ACTION: As always, be sure you are in a position to hear warnings if they are needed, have a plan of action, and a readiness kit in your safe place. See this post I wrote before Christmas on specific things to do.

WEDNESDAY: Rain ends pretty early in the day; we will forecast gradual clearing with a high back in the 50s.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: Cool and dry weather is the story on these two days with a good supply of sunshine; highs in the 50s, lows down around freezing.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Saturday will stay mostly sunny with a high in the 50s; the GFS develops a low in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday that spreads rain up into South Alabama, for now we will leave the forecast dry for the northern half of the state. The high Sunday will be in the mid 50s.

NEXT WEEK: Seeing lots of support for the idea of much colder air digging down into the eastern half of the nation in 10 days or so…

We do have a long way to go this winter. Again, see the Weather Xtreme video for maps, graphics, and more details.

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. We will record this week’s show tonight at 8:30p CT… you can watch it live here.

CONNECT: You can find me on all of the major social networks…

Google Plus

I have weather programs today at Vestavia Hills Cahaba Heights Elementary and Calera Elementary… look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 4:00 this afternoon. Enjoy the day!

Categories: Weather

Late Night Thoughts on Tuesday Evening

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 00:02

The evening run of the North American Mesoscale Model has increased concerns for the possibility of severe weather, including tornadoes over Central Alabama early Tuesday evening. Early looks at the GFS are not quite as bullish, but also indicate the possibility for severe weather a little earlier, just after sunset over North Central Alabama. This is still a developing weather situation and one we will have to watch very closely during the day on Monday and into Tuesday.

Let’s discuss some severe weather parameters and what you might can expect.

INSTABILITY: Temperatures will be in the lower 70s and dewpoints in the lower 60s. The general thinking over the past few model runs has been that instability would be low, less than 500 joule/kg, but we note that the evening run of the NAM is more bullish on instability, which ramps up the severe weather threat for any storms that form ahead of the main line of storms. The evening run of the NAM shows a little higher instability by 6 – 7 p.m. at Birmingham and shows an Energy Helicity Index of over 2, which is indicative of a more significant severe weather threat. It also ramps the Significant Tornado Parameter up over 1.5 across Central Alabama near and south of Birmingham. If these trends continue, it would increase our concern that there could be supercells and tornadoes ahead of the main line early in the evening.

WIND SHEAR: The overall wind shear needed for organized thunderstorms will certainly not be lacking as bulk shear values will be over 60 knots. Low level helicity will be very high as well. The GFS and NAM rate it at over 400 m2/s2, which will overcome the low instability to produce a few tornadoes in the risk area, and especially in the enhanced risk area over Northwest Alabama, northern Mississippi, western Tennessee, southern Kentucky and extreme eastern Arkansas.

MODES OF SEVERE WEATHER: Damaging winds will be the main threat, but there will also be a few tornadoes. The greatest threat of tornadoes appears to be over Northwest Alabama’s Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin and Marion Counties, but these new numbers from the NAM increase the concern that tornadoes could be possible early in the evening over Central Alabama. The chance of hail is rather unclear now.

TIMING: Showers and thunderstorms will fire near the Mississippi River around noon on Tuesday. The line of storms should reach the Northwest Corner of Alabama between 6-8 p.m. It should reach Huntsville, Jasper and Tuscaloosa around 11 p.m. to midnight. It should reach Birmingham sometime around 1-2 am. and Anniston around 4 a.m. We will be watching for storms to form ahead of the main line during the late afternoon and early evening. These could also produce damaging winds and tornadoes.

HEAVY RAIN THREAT: The approaching system will be a relatively slow mover, with about 6-8 hours of moderate to heavy rainfall across Central Alabama. It now appears that rainfall amounts could approach 2 inches over that time period. It appears that most locations can absorb that quantity of arainfall without major concerns, but localized flooding will be a very real possibility.

REVIEW YOUR SAFETY PLAN: Go over your personal safety plan for your home and business. Have a way of receiving weather warnings reliably, even while you sleep. Know what to do wherever you might be if a warning is issued. And tell others who might not be interested in weather about the potential threat. Don’t be anxious, just be prepared in case.

Categories: Weather

Noon Time Update

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 13:08

Clouds have thickened across Alabama on this last day of January as moisture levels rise across the state in an increasing southerly flow near the surface and southwesterly flow aloft. The warm advection associated with that flow is offsetting the effects of the cloudiness over the area.

Temperatures as we approach the noon hour are in the middle 60s, heading for highs generally in the lower 70s. Dewpoints have jumped some 20 degrees since yesterday, and are now n the middle 50s, making the airmass feel a little more humid.

Winds have picked up as well, averaging some 10-20 mph and occasionally gusting to over 25 mph as a strong low level jet of 40 knots winds extending from Louisiana to Ohio mixes down to the surface.

Regional radars are quiet for, with the nearest rain to Alabama currently some showers near Chicago. A few showers will start to show up later this afternoon as the airmass becomes more saturated, as lift associated with the low level jet continues and as a cold front currently entering northwestern Arkansas keeps inching southeastward.

Lows tonight will be in the middle and upper 50s. Rain chances will go up overnight, with a few scattered showers occurring. Rain chances will be in the 20-30% range. Rainfall amounts will be light, generally between 0.01 and 0.10 inches.

Monday will be a lot like today, with more clouds than sun, a lighter southerly breeze and highs in the upper 60s and lower 70s. There will be a few showers during the day, but they should be light, again generally between 0.01 and 0.10 inches.

Tuesday will be a warm, slightly humid and breezy day with mostly cloudy skies, although there will be occasional breaks in the clouds. The southerly flow and breaks will allow the mercury to climb to between 70-73F.

Damaging winds and a few isolated tornadoes are still in the cards for most of Alabama Tuesday afternoon and evening, generally west of a line from Heflin to Montgomery to Brewton. There is an enhanced severe weather threat for Northwest Alabama, including parts of Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin and Marion Counties. where the severe weather will arrive closer to the time of peak heating and greatest instability. The greatest threat for tornadoes will in the enhanced severe weather risk area over Northwest Alabama and back into northern Mississippi, eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee and southern Kentucky. Damaging winds will be a threat through the period with a 60 knot low level jet centered right over Alabama. It will be easy to bring these winds down to the surface with any strong thunderstorm circulations. Hail may or may not be a threat.

Instability levels are still expected to be marginal, with CAPE values generally expected to be around 500 joules/kg. This is certainly sufficient for severe weather and the NAM and European models do shower slightly higher instabilities, between 500 and 1,000 j/kg. Mid level lapse rates are marginal, with temperature decreases in degrees C per 1 km running just over 6C.

Wind shear values will peak around noon and then start coming down, but should be plenty sufficient in the afternoon and early evening to produce severe thunderstorms and even isolated tornadoes.

The NAM shows more precipitation (rain and storms) during the morning with a more pronounced warm frontal type feature coming northward. It does get through the area in time for a break before the storms form during the afternoon. The GFS triggers them over Mississippi and moves them into Alabama. The NAM develops them over our state and has them stronger. In either case, it looks like the main window for severe weather will start around 3 p.m. in the Northwest and in the I-59 corridor between 6-9 p.m. These times are not set in stone and are subject to closer scrutiny as we get more data. Instability values should peak between 306 p.m., then start coming down.

Categories: Weather

Still Have Severe Weather Threat on the Board For Tuesday

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 08:05

We continue to search for clues about the severe weather event that will impact Alabama on Tuesday. After days of run-to-run consistency among the global models, things have gotten a little fuzzier as we have gotten closer to the event. It appears that the threat of significant tornadoes has lessened somewhat for us here in Alabama, with the exception of the northwest part of the state. But the main message is that we still have a rather significant severe weather event looming for us Tuesday afternoon into Tuesday night here in Central Alabama.

BEAUTIFUL SATURDAY: One thing that is certain is that Saturday was a beautiful day across Central Alabama. Highs ranged from 68F at Birmingham to 69F at Anniston and Calera to 70F at Tuscaloosa. Montgomery managed to hit 71F.

MILD SUNDAY: High pressure is centered east of Charleston SC this morning. It is stubbornly strong. A surface low is over central Missouri. Alabama has been feeling itself in the increasing pinch between these two systems overnight, and southerly winds have been increasing. This kept readings west of I-65 above 50F through the overnight hours. Lows over eastern Alabama were in the 40s. Clouds increased as moisture levels rose as well and there will be more clouds than sun today, but this won’t keep the mercury from reaching the upper 60s to lower 70s. The low will drop to the southeast along the Red River and then east northeast toward Memphis. A few showers could break out across the area this afternoon, but that chance is small. Rain chances will increase tonight, but the chance you will see rain is about 1 in 3.

MONDAY: Monday will start off mostly cloudy with a few showers. Temperatures will be in the middle 50s. There will be some clearing during the day, and highs will top out near 70F.

TUESDAY MORNING: We will be tracking an intensifying surface low near Kansas City. Southerly winds will be increasing over Alabama and as moisture levels surge, dewpoints will rise into the 60s, making it feel quite humid. Showers and thunderstorms will break out over Louisiana and Arkansas during the day. A line of thunderstorms will push into Alabama during the evening. After believing earlier that instability would not be a question, that is not so certain now. Wind shear certainly will not be a question. Let’s look at some parameters:

INSTABILITY: Temperatures will be in the lower 70s and dewpoints in the lower 60s. The GFS and SREF are only indicating about 250 j/kg of CAPE in the 3 p.m. to midnight window. This is sufficient to produce thunderstorm updrafts, but they won’t be intense. Lapse rates, or decreasing temperature with height will be generally weak.

WIND SHEAR: The overall wind shear needed for organized thunderstorms will certainly not be lacking as bulk shear values will be over 60 knots. Low level helicity will be very high as well. The GFS and NAM rate it at over 400 m2/s2, which is almost too high for the weak instability that we will see.

COMPOSITE PARAMETERS: The Energy Helicity Index needs to be over 1 for significant severe weather, and it is less than that on the latest run of the GFS, but the NAM brings the system in a little earlier and depicts an EHI of 1 over West Central Alabama Tuesday afternoon. The Significant Tornado Parameter is greater than 1 over Central Mississippi at mid-afternoon and nearly 2 over northern Mississippi by sunset, but weakens afterwards. One thing to note is that the lifted condensation level is low enough not to pose a hindrance to tornado formation.

ANOTHER FLY IN THE OINTMENT: The NAM indicates there could be fairly widespread showers and storms during the day, which could limit the severe weather threat except for the damaging wind threat overnight as the squall line arrives.

All of this weather geekiness indicates that the tornado threat has been reduced for Alabama. But with those helicity values, and the uncertainty about the instability, we can’t let our guard down just yet. Here is the new Day Three Severe Weather Outlook from the Storm Prediction center. It shows the best chance for severe weather over areas to our northwest, down into extreme Northwest Alabama’s Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin and Marion Counties.

REVIEW YOUR SAFETY PLAN: Go over your personal safety plan for your home and business. Have a way of receiving weather warnings reliably, even while you sleep. Know what to do wherever you might be if a warning is issued. And tell others who might not be interested in weather about the potential threat. Don’t be anxious, just be prepared in case.

MIDWEEK AND BEYOND: The rain and storms will move out Wednesday morning and cooler and drier air will settle into Alabama for the remainder of the week and weekend. Highs will be in the 50s and lows in the 30s.

Categories: Weather

Splendid Spring-like Saturday

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 14:47

It is oh so nice this afternoon. Most locations are severe clear, with the exception of a few of those very high, wispy cirrus clouds.

Temperatures are in the upper 60s as well as some lower 70s. I am having to do a double take at the calendar as it is feeling like the last weekend of March, instead of the last weekend of January, with temperatures this afternoon 10-15 degrees above average.

For tonight, expect another gorgeous night, with mainly clear conditions and lows in the upper 40s and lower 50s. For Sunday, the winds of change will begin to blow. Our winds will increase out of the south which is going to start bringing in more warm and moist air. It will be another warm day as afternoon highs will be in the upper 60s and lower 70s, but we will not see as much sun as clouds will be increasing. Tomorrow should stay dry, but overnight Sunday night, there certainly could be a few showers moving across Alabama.

Categories: Weather

Tuesday’s Severe Weather Threat

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 10:08

Here are a few quick notes concerning the severe weather potential in Alabama Tuesday.

Our friends at the Storm Prediction Center have shifted the higher risk a little westward, but it still includes the northwest corner of Alabama…

The good news is that global models (American and European) have trended farther north with the surface low, and the associated upper support, in recent runs. Below is the GFS (06Z run) valid at 6pm CT Tuesday…

Note how the surface low is near Chicago; earlier runs had it closer to St. Louis.

Based on these trends… here is what I am thinking now…

TIMING: The main window for severe storms across North/Central Alabama will come from 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through 2:00 a.m. Wednesday.

THREATS: The tornado threat for Alabama has lessened somewhat, but is still there. Highest risk of a tornado with this event will be in places like Memphis; in our state higher tornado probabilities will be up around Muscle Shoals, in the northwest corner of the state. Storms will evolve into a long line Tuesday night with potential for damaging straight line winds, and some hail.

RAIN: Amounts of 1/2 to 1 inch are likely, and flooding is not expected.

This system will get into the American upper air network over the next 48 hours, and forecast confidence will continue to grow. Enjoy this fine weekend, and just understand severe storms will be possible in Alabama late Tuesday and Tuesday night. You might want to check your weather radio sometime this weekend, and put in a fresh backup battery. Be sure you know where are you are going if you do get into a tornado warning polygon, and have a readiness kit in that safe place including helmets, airhorns and whistles, and hard sole shoes.

We will keep you updated through the weekend.

Categories: Weather

Very Nice Weekend; Latest on Tuesday Severe Weather Threat

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 08:17

Perhaps a little good news in the severe weather department about the upcoming event which will be in here on Tuesday, but we’re not out of the woods with this very dynamic system. Let’s dig into the details.

NICE WEEKEND IN STORE: After a nice day on Friday with highs in the upper 50s and lower 60s, today and Sunday promise to be blockbuster days for late January with a good supply of sunshine both days and highs in the upper 60s. There will even be a few 70F+ readings on Sunday, especially down around Demopolis, Selma and Montgomery. A weakening cold front will push toward the area Sunday night, triggering a few showers across the area, but rainfall amounts and coverages will be low. Lows tonight will be in the 40s and in the 50s Sunday night.

SETTING THE STAGE: By Monday, that front will be falling apart and a powerful upper level system will be getting its act together over the western U.S. and a surface low will be preparing to move out onto the Plains. Big time snows will fall over parts of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, which is great news for the skiers, but bad news for those of us ahead of the system in the warm sector of the low, because that means thunderstorms.

SEVERE WEATHER THREAT: Overnight runs of our global models have trended slower and less unstable, especially for us here in Alabama. Warmer air aloft means less instability and the system arriving later in the evening Tuesday night would be well after the peak heating of the day, meaning less volatile conditions. This is encouraging that the system might not be as high impact as we have been thinking, but it still will be a severe weather producer for us in the state.

SPC SHIFTS HIGHEST RISKS SLIGHTLY WEST: The SPC has shifted the highest probabilities for severe weather a little west, pushing the 30% probability back over West Central and Northwest Alabama, from Lamar and Pickens Counties up through the northwestern part of the state then into western Tennessee and Mississippi.

Having said that, nearly all of Central Alabama is still in the standard “slight” risk for severe weather according to the SPC. It looks like the showers and storms will break out over Arkansas and Louisiana late Tuesday morning and will push east. They should get into western Alabama in the 6-9 p.m. time frame and will push across the state during the evening hours. This 6 hour delay could make a big difference in the instabilities. The latest model runs have trended more in the 500 joule/kg range, instead of over 1,000 joules.

Still, the system is very dyanmic A 130 knot+ jet streak (at 200 mb) is forecast to move over the region, and the low level jet (5,000 feet/850 mb) will exceed 60 knots over North Alabama. Storm relative helicity values will be high, and LCL values low (Lifted Condensation Level). Bottom line is that both dynamic and thermodynamic profiles will be very supportive of severe storms here.

So, here is the latest thinking:

*There will be a risk of strong to severe thunderstorms over much of Alabama Tuesday evening. For North/Central Alabama, highest risk will come from roughly 6:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m.

*All modes of severe weather are possible, including large hail, damaging winds, and a few tornadoes.

*The highest risk of a tornado will be roughly over Lamar, Pickens, Marion, Franklin, Colbert, Lauderdale and Lawrence Counties in the “30 percent enhanced” area as defined by SPC, and in discrete storms that manage to form during the afternoon and evening hours ahead of the main squall line/QLCS.

*Rain amounts of around 1 inch are likely, and flooding is not expected to be an issue.

No need to be worried or anxious; we have a number of severe weather threats every year in Alabama. It has just been unusually quiet in recent years. And, remember, this is still 5 days out and the forecast can change.

REST OF NEXT WEEK: Colder air rolls into the state over the latter part of next week, with highs dropping generally in the 40s. Here are temperature trends from the GFS ensembles:

See the Weather Xtreme video for maps, graphics, and more details.

I will be back with another Weather Xtreme video tomorrow morning. We will have updates throughout the weekend on the blog.

Categories: Weather

Warmer Days Ahead; Severe Storms Tuesday

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 16:33

BLUE SKY: Hard to find a decent cloud in the Alabama sky this afternoon across the great state of Alabama; temperatures are mostly in the mid to upper 50s; a few spots over West Alabama have reached the low 60s.

Tomorrow will be dry and even warmer with a high up in the mid 60s, and a few communities could reach 70 degrees by Sunday. There will be a gradual increase in clouds Sunday, and a few showers could reach North Alabama Sunday night ahead of a weak front.

Monday will be mostly cloudy and mild with a chance of scattered showers and a high around 70 degrees.

SEVERE WEATHER THREAT TUESDAY: SPC has an enhanced severe weather threat Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night over Northwest Alabama, with the standard risk down to near Mobile…

New guidance this morning continues to point to a potential high impact severe weather threat for a decent part of Alabama. Surface based CAPE values surge to 1,000 j/kg Tuesday afternoon, more than enough instability for severe storms, and a dynamic upper trough will produce excellent diffluence aloft and strong lapse rates. And, a deepening surface low will move through Missouri, into Illinois, with high bulk shear values over the region. And, wind fields at the surface and aloft will be moderate to strong.

This is our latest thinking…

TIMING: The core threat of severe storms will come from 3:00 p.m. Tuesday through 12:00 midnight Tuesday night. Please note this event is still 4-5 days away, and the timing could change.

MODES: All severe weather modes will be possible, including large hail and damaging winds. The highest tornado threat will come from discrete storms that form Tuesday afternoon across North and West Alabama, in the SPC “30% area”. We do note that analogs (looking at past weather events under similar meteorological patterns) suggest that one or two long track tornadoes will be possible in this area as well. By Tuesday night the threat will shift to mainly straight line winds from the passing line of storms.

RAIN: Rain amounts of 1/2 to 1 inch are likely; flooding is not expected.

GRADIENT WINDS: Even away from thunderstorms, it will be windy with south winds of 15-25 mph, gusting to 30 mph at times.

CALL TO ACTION: Just be sure you have a way of hearing warnings, and think about where you go if you do happen to fall under a tornado warning polygon. And, don’t forget your readiness kit in that safe place with things like helmets for everyone, whistles or air horns (if you need to get the attention of first responders), and hard sole shoes.

And, considering passing along knowledge of the threat Tuesday to people that don’t usually pay attention to weather.

Interesting to note one of the top analogs that shows up is the “Super Tuesday” tornado outbreak of February 5-6, 2008…. that one produced 57 tornadoes, and the death toll was 57 in states mostly just north and west of Alabama.

REST OF NEXT WEEK: Clouds linger Wednesday, and we turn colder, and the rest of the week looks cold and dry. See the Weather Xtreme video for maps, graphics, and more details.

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…

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I had a great time today seeing the kids at Vernon Intermediate School in Lamar County… be looking for them on the Pepsi KIDCAM today at 5:00 on ABC 33/40 News! My next Weather Xtreme video will be posted here by Monday morning at 7:00… Bill Murray will have the video updates tomorrow and Sunday. Enjoy the weekend!

Categories: Weather

This Week’s Good News from Alabama NewsCenter

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 16:03

How about some good news to go along with this beautiful weather? Here are some of our favorite stories from the past week from our friends at Alabama NewsCenter.

Jake Ganus stood out at UAB and Georgia and hopes to do the same at the Senior Bowl

Roll Tide revelry as Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate national championship with fans

Cam Newton sets his sights on a Super Bowl championship for Carolina Panthers

Southern Living at 50: Editors reflect and look toward the future

Southern Living ‘Evening with the Editors’ kicks off magazine’s 50th anniversary celebration in Birmingham

Alabama and Auburn working together? Ron Anders awarded for doing the impossible

Foundation for Progress in Journalism buys The Birmingham Times

Airbus relaxes some hiring criteria in Mobile with latest wave of openings

Small town grocers impact communities across the state in big ways

See the ‘Greatest Show on Earth,’ a lovely bird sanctuary or timeless theater with Can’t Miss Alabama

Good times roll as Mobile prepares for Mardi Gras

How well do you know your Mobile Mardi Gras and Carnival history?

Rock on: Birmingham’s Daniel C. Jackson picks up guitar again for ‘Rock of Ages’

UAB Adult Sickle Cell Clinic receives $1 million from Sickle Cell Foundation

KBR signs big lease in Hoover’s Galleria Tower

Patti Callahan Henry touches hearts and inspires spirits through writing

Bright Star broiled seafood platter, one of ‘100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die’

Alabama Power Foundation announces Students to Stewards grant recipients

Alabama Power warns of Birmingham area scam

Lake Martin hits new December peak for residential sales

Home sales in Wiregrass up slightly in December

Phenix City finishes 2015 strong in home sales

Athens closes out 2015 with 18 percent more home sales than 2014

Shoals narrowly misses new peak in home sales during December

Birmingham 2015 home sales up 6 percent over 2014

Baldwin County annual home sales were 12 percent higher than 2014

Rocket City home sales lift off in December

Categories: Weather