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Category: Alabama’s Weather

Much Warmer, Then Much Colder; Ice Issues?

| 6:38 am March 3, 2015

An all new edition of the ABC 33/40 Weather Xtreme video is available in the player on the right sidebar of the blog. You can subscribe to the Weather Xtreme video on iTunes by clicking here.

ROLLER COASTER RIDE: Yet another complex forecast for Alabama. In the short term, temperatures will be much warmer. Today’s high will be close to 70 degrees; parts of South Alabama could be close to 80 this afternoon. The sky will remain cloudy, and we will mention the chance of showers, but rain today won’t be especially widespread. In fact, a few thin spots could show up in the overcast this afternoon.

TOMORROW: Models are showing a slower progression of the Arctic front, so we stay in the warm air tomorrow. Much like today, the sky will be mostly cloudy, showers are possible, and temperatures rise up into the low to mid 70s. Coverage of rain should increase tomorrow night, and a few thunderstorms are possible ahead of the cold front. The good news is that no severe weather is expected, although a strong storm is not totally out of the question.

ARCTIC AIR INVADES: Much colder air will enter far North Alabama tomorrow evening, and the Arctic front will progress steadily southward during the night. The timing of this front’s arrival is one key in the winter storm potential for Thursday morning. We should mention we expect no icy travel issues in Alabama before midnight tomorrow night.

WINTER STORM POTENTIAL: Uncertainty has been introduced into the forecast for Thursday morning; the NAM (North American Mesoscale) model is slower with the arrival of the cold air, and it modifies the cold air enough that temperatures stay above freezing at Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, and Gadsden. However, this is an outlier in that the ECMWF (European) and GFS (American) models show sub-freezing temperatures deep into Central Alabama. Keep in mind the cold air will be very shallow, and traditionally models struggle with this, so we will skew toward the GFS/ECMWF solution. Here is our current thinking…

snow

TIMING: The freeze line, and the approximate time when freezing rain begins, will be near Muscle Shoals and Huntsville at 2:00 a.m…. Cullman at 4:00 a.m…. I-59 (Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden) at 6:00 a.m… and Anniston at 7:00 a.m.

PLACEMENT: Freezing rain and icy travel is possible Thursday morning as far south as a line from Eutaw to Calera to Heflin, but the highest ice accumulation should come over Northwest Alabama.

PRECIPITATION TYPE: Model forecast soundings suggest most of the precipitation will fall in the form of freezing rain (liquid that falls when surface temperatures are below 32 degrees). Some sleet could be in the mix as well… and snow flurries are possible later in the day Thursday as the cold air gets deeper. But no snow accumulation is expected if it we do see flurries.

ACCUMULATION: Ice accumulation up to 0.15″ is possible; the higher totals will be over Northwest Alabama. But remember, it doesn’t take much ice to create travel problems.

IMPACT: The good news is that with the lower ice accumulation potential, widespread power outages are not expected. The main issue will involve travel, especially on bridges and overpasses, where freezing rain falls.

DURATION: Temperatures will most likely stay below freezing along and north of U.S. 278 Thursday (north of a line from Hamilton to Cullman to Gadsden), so icy travel could persist in that part of North Alabama through the day Thursday into Thursday night and Friday morning. It looks like Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, and Gadsden will creep up into the mid 30s Thursday afternoon.

IMPORTANT: When dealing with an event like this (freezing rain/sleet), the difference in one or two degrees at the surface can make the difference between a harmless, cold rainy morning, and a winter storm with high travel impact. Confidence in the timing and placement of the freeze line is not especially high, and this forecast will change as we get closer to the event. Be sure and check the blog often for updates.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: These three days will be dry and warmer with partly sunny days and mostly fair nights. The high Friday will be close to 50, with mid 50s Saturday and Sunday.

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

FIRST ALERT STORM TEAM TOUR: Our annual severe weather awareness tour across Alabama rolls along; tonight’s scheduled stop at Hanceville has been postponed…. we are scheduled to be in Calera at Burton Campers Thursday. Just drop by anytime from 4:00 until 6:30… you can watch me do weather live on ABC 33/40, get some free stuff to take home, and have a chance to win several NOAA Weather Radios we will be giving away. If you need your weather radio programmed or checked, bring it by and we will be glad to help.

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…

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I will be at Randolph Elementary in Bibb County today… look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 4:00 this afternoon. Enjoy the day!

Warm, Then Cold, Then Icy

| 3:27 pm March 2, 2015

An all new edition of the ABC 33/40 Weather Xtreme video is available in the player on the right sidebar of the blog. You can subscribe to the Weather Xtreme video on iTunes by clicking here.

WILD WEATHER RIDE: We will maintain the chance of occasional showers across the great state of Alabama through tonight as a surface boundary continues to slowly left northward. Temperatures in some North Alabama communities could actually rise overnight.

SPRING LIKE WARMTH: Tomorrow will be one of the warmest days so far this year; most communities will rise into the low to mid 70s… some places down in South Alabama will see low 80s. A few showers are possible during the day, but I get the idea much of the day will be rain-free, and the sun might even peek out at times. But, don’t get used to the warmth.

COLD FRONT WEDNESDAY: The new model set (12Z) has slowed down the Arctic front a bit… so temperatures Wednesday should reach 70-75 degrees around the I-20 corridor before the “big chill” arrives later in the day. Once the front passes around mid-afternoon, winds will shift around to the north, and temperatures begin to fall quickly. For some people in North Alabama, they will go to work with temperatures in the 60s, and come home later in the day with temperatures in the 30s.

Expect periods of rain Wednesday, and possibly some thunder. The good news is that severe thunderstorms are not expected despite the sharp nature of the cold front.

ICE PROBLEMS WEDNESDAY NIGHT INTO THURSDAY MORNING: Rain will change to freezing rain as temperatures drop below 32 degrees (F). The freeze line should be near Muscle Shoals around 6:00 p.m… Cullman around 10:00 p.m… and along I-59 (Tuscaloosa/Birmingham/Gadsden) soon after midnight. Due to the shallow nature of the cold air, freezing rain and sleet will be the primary precipitation type for North/Central Alabama through Thursday morning, with potential for a little snow as it ends.

snow

ACCUMULATION: The European model is the most aggressive with the amount of freezing rain; it shows 0.30 to 0.50″ of rain falling with sub-freezing temperatures; the GFS (American) model is showing only about 0.05 to 0.10″. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in between. We will still forecast ice accumulation up to 0.25″; this doesn’t sound much, but this is enough to create big headaches.

Snow amounts of 1-3 inches are possible on top of the ice and sleet over the northwest corner of the state around Florence and Muscle Shoals; snow amounts elsewhere should be very light.

IMPACT: Where ice accumulation is heaviest (around 1/4 inch), power outages are possible due to the weight of the ice on trees and power lines, and north winds of 10-20 mph. Travel will be severely disrupted Wednesday night and Thursday. Remember, this is mostly an ice event.

We could very well stay below freezing all day Thursday, so icy travel could continue into Thursday night and perhaps even Friday morning. Temperatures warm above freezing by mid-morning Friday and conditions will improve quickly.

PLACEMENT: Ice accumulation will be possible Thursday morning as far south as a line from Livingston to Clanton to Wedowee. Isolated ice problems are possible even south of that line. The most serious ice accumulation, however, will be along and north of I-20.

BOTTOM LINE: This has potential to be a high impact winter storm for North/Central Alabama, but the forecast can, and probably will change as we get closer to the event. Winter storm watches will be required early tomorrow morning. Please keep up with the latest blog discussions for possible changes.

FRIDAY THROUGH THE WEEKEND: Dry weather is the story with mostly sunny days, fair nights, and a warming trend. We rise into the upper 40s Friday, and then we reach the mid to upper 50s over the weekend.

FIRST ALERT STORM TEAM TOUR: Our annual severe weather awareness tour across Alabama rolls along; we have cancelled the Hanceville stop tomorrow evening. For our other stops, just drop by anytime from 4:00 until 6:30… you can watch me do weather live on ABC 33/40, get some free stuff to take home, and have a chance to win several NOAA Weather Radios we will be giving away. If you need your weather radio programmed or checked, bring it by and we will be glad to help.

FS FIRST ALERT SCHEDULE MARCH 3

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 on “James Spann 24/7″ on cable systems around the state, or on the web here.

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

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I had a great time today visiting with 1st graders at Calera Elementary School… and 4th graders at Irondale Community School. 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 by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow…

Potential Winter Storm Wed Night/Thursday

| 6:21 am March 2, 2015

An all new edition of the ABC 33/40 Weather Xtreme video is available in the player on the right sidebar of the blog. You can subscribe to the Weather Xtreme video on iTunes by clicking here.

ANOTHER WILD WEEK: Strap in for yet another weather roller coaster ride this week, with potential for a high impact winter storm before the week is over.

TODAY: Wet is the word; we will forecast occasional showers today and tonight; temperatures will hold steady in the 50s much of the day. We should note we have dense fog advisory for much of Central and South Alabama as the day begins; visibilities are very restricted in spots.

WARM DAY TOMORROW: A warm front pushes northward tomorrow morning, and we should soar into the low to mid 70s tomorrow afternoon; much of South Alabama can expect low 80s. A shower or two is certainly possible during the day, but I sure get the idea much of the day will be dry, and the sun might even peek out at times. Walk outside tomorrow afternoon and you will think we are a lunatic for forecasting a winter storm Wednesday night into Thursday.

STRONG STORMS? There is no formal risk of severe weather defined by SPC for Alabama, and severe weather parameters are not impressive for tomorrow night. A strong storm is certainly possible, but for now the chance of severe weather is not great.

WRONG WAY WEDNESDAY: A very sharp cold front will move through Alabama Wednesday, making it a nightmare temperature forecast. Temperatures will begin to fall across the Tennessee Valley of far North Alabama early in the day. For Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, and Gadsden, temperatures will most likely reach the 60s by midday, then falling through the afternoon, with 30s by evening. Rain will fall much of the day; it will be a good soaking for the state.

WINTER STORM THREAT: Post frontal precipitation will bring the threat of a high impact winter storm to North and parts of Central Alabama Wednesday night and Thursday. Understand we are still a few days away from this, but confidence in the forecast is growing.

TIMING: Freezing rain and sleet could begin over the northwest corner of Alabama as early as 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, when temperatures are expected to go below freezing. For Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, and Gadsden, the core threat of freezing rain/sleet will come from roughly midnight Wednesday night through 10:00 a.m. Thursday.

thu_6a

PLACEMENT: Ice accumulation will be possible along and north of a line from Livingston to Clanton to Roanoke. Isolated issues are possible even south of that line.

PRECIPITATION TYPE AND AMOUNT: The cold air initially will be very shallow; warmer air between 5,000 and 10,000 feet will mean the initial precipitation will fall as sleet (ice pellets) and freezing rain (liquid). Then, as the cold air deepens, it changes to snow before ending.

Ice accumulation to 0.25″ is likely; some spots could get more. On top of that, snow totals of 1-3″ are possible, mainly along and west of a line from Sulligent to Cullman to Scottsboro (we do note the GFS is more aggressive with snow totals). Snow amounts to the west and south will be lighter. The greatest concern is the ice accumulation; a long period of freezing rain leads to an ice storm.

IMPACT: This winter storm should severely impact travel Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and there could be enough ice accumulation for power outages. We expect a north wind of 10-20 mph during the event, which will add to the possibility of tree branches and power lines being impacted by the ice.

TEMPERATURES: Most North Alabama communities stay below freezing all day Thursday, and where there is snow and ice accumulation, temperatures early Friday morning will drop into the 10-15 degree range, with even potential for isolated single digit lows. We then warm above freezing by mid-morning Friday.

IMPORTANT: This forecast can, and will change. The event Wednesday night/Thursday could be a minor situation with mostly a cold rain, and brief change to wintry precipitation on the back side, or it could be a high impact ice storm. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Check the blog often for updates. And, see the “ten things people need to know about winter weather forecasts”.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: These three days will be dry with a warming trend. We reach the upper 40s Friday, mid 50s Saturday, and upper 50s Sunday. Each day should feature a good supply of sunshine.

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

FIRST ALERT STORM TEAM TOUR: Our annual severe weather awareness tour across Alabama rolls along; we will be in Hanceville tomorrow evening. Just drop by anytime from 4:00 until 6:30… you can watch me do weather live on ABC 33/40, get some free stuff to take home, and have a chance to win several NOAA Weather Radios we will be giving away. If you need your weather radio programmed or checked, bring it by and we will be glad to help.

FS FIRST ALERT SCHEDULE MARCH 3

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 on “James Spann 24/7″ on cable systems around the state, or on the web here.

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

Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus
Instagram

I have a weather program this morning at Calera Elementary School… and this afternoon I will be reading at Irondale Community School. Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 4:00 this afternoon… enjoy the day…

Afternoon Look At Mid-Week

| 1:51 pm March 1, 2015

Unfortunately morning model data still supports the POTENTIAL for a high impact winter storm across Alabama Wednesday night and Thursday.

gfs_ptype_slp_birmingham_17

The GFS and ECMWF (Euro) remain in good agreement that temperatures will fall during the day Wednesday, and post-frontal precipitation will develop Wednesday night and Thursday in the cold air. Due to warmer air in the 5,000-10,000 foot region, much of this will fall in the form of freezing rain.

Screen_Shot_2015-03-01_at_6_08_22_AM

New data suggests that .25 to .50″ of freezing rain will fall at Birmingham…

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 1.43.53 PM

Should this verify, this could lead to a very significant ice accumulation, dangerous (if not impossible) travel conditions, and major power outages due to falling trees and power lines (due to the weight of the ice and winds of 10-20 mph).

Greatest risk of freezing rain and ice accumulation will be north of a line from Livingston to Clanton to Roanoke.

The primary timing of the freezing rain will come from about 6:00 p.m. Wednesday through 12:00 noon Thursday. It is likely the precipitation will change to snow as it ends.

UNDERSTAND: This is still several days away, and this forecast can change dramatically; we could wind up with a cold rain and just a little light snow. But, confidence is increasing, and you might consider planning now for yet another winter weather event this week. We will keep you posted….

Warmer Before Another Arctic Shot

| 7:32 am March 1, 2015

An all new edition of the ABC 33/40 Weather Xtreme video is available in the player on the right sidebar of the blog. You can subscribe to the Weather Xtreme video on iTunes by clicking here.

The warmer weather of yesterday and forecast for the next several days is being overshadowed by the attention being given to the potential winter weather event come Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning. Yesterday was a beautiful day with much of Central Alabama reaching the lower 60s. We won’t get quite that warm today with more clouds, but afternoon highs in the 50s will still feel good. There will be a few showers around though most folks will probably stay dry. The warmer weather is thanks to a southwesterly flow aloft which has raised heights over the Southeast US. But that southwesterly flow will also bring moisture with the warming, so the next several days will include chances for showers and rain.

As the trough develops over the southern Rockies, we’ll continue with a moisture laden southwesterly flow. A strong short wave coming through the northern US on Tuesday and Wednesday will generate a surface low over the Central Plains that will move quickly into eastern Canada and drag a cold front through the Southeastern US on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday will see temperature fall during the day as Arctic air once again invades the Southeast US. And this is where the forecast gets a bit dicey. The GFS has been consistent with developing a sizable band of winter precipitation behind the front beginning Wednesday afternoon and continuing through Thursday morning. This is not the same scenario we saw last week with the epic snow event, and usually these kind of situations don’t result in major precipitation amounts, the problem of the cold air arriving as the moisture departs. But with freezing rain and sleet, it does not take much precipitation to create a real mess.

However, in this situation the cold air is forecast to come in quick and catch up with moisture, so the GFS is painting a rather broad band of wintry precipitation. The most likely type of precipitation will be freezing rain and sleet which can quickly impact travel. The most likely area to be impacted is along the I-20 corridor and north of that. There is no reason to panic just yet, but everyone should continue to monitor the forecast since we are still three to four days out, and we all know that the models can change their solutions.

Thursday is expected to be a raw day with morning lows into the 20s and afternoon highs in the 30s. But it is March which means that the cold snap should not last a long time and by Friday and Saturday we should be recovering with highs well into the 50s. A low latitude short wave late Saturday and into Sunday promises to bring another round of wet weather to areas along the Gulf Coast.

And looking out into voodoo country, the pattern remains active with a strong trough around the 12th and another cold shot around the 16th. After the cold February we had, we just can’t catch a break on an extended warm period.

And you can follow news and weather updates from ABC 33/40 on Twitter here. Stay in the know by following the whole gang – here’s the list…

James Spann Charles Daniel Bill Murray
Brian Peters E-Warn (AL wx watches/warnings)

I’m filling in for Meaghan Thomas on ABC 3340 this weekend, so be sure to catch the latest forecast at 5 and 10 pm this evening. James Spann will have the next Weather Xtreme Video first thing on Monday morning, and there will be notes here as we continue to watch how this next situation unfolds. Enjoy the day and Godspeed.

-Brian-

Mid-Week Winter Storm Update

| 6:28 am March 1, 2015

This is an update of the potential for a winter storm across North Alabama Wednesday night and Thursday… please understand this far out the forecast is subject to big changes, but model consistency has been very good and confidence is growing in this forecast. As always, I encourage you to read the “ten things people need to know about winter weather forecasts.

TIMING: After a good rain/thunderstorm event and a cold front passage, cold air advection will bring Arctic air into Alabama Wednesday with falling temperatures during the day. The high will be reached Wednesday morning, and we should be in the 30s by late afternoon. Temperatures will go below freezing across North/Central Alabama in the 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. time frame, and winter weather issues are likely from then through Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

gfs_ptype_slp_ky_18

PRECIPITATION TYPE: Unfortunately, the cold air will be shallow, and a layer of warmer air aloft between 5,000 and 10,000 feet will most likely set the stage for freezing rain, followed by a change to sleet and snow as the event winds down Thursday morning as the cold air deepens. Below is a forecast sounding for Birmingham for late Wednesday night.

Screen_Shot_2015-03-01_at_6_08_22_AM

Freezing rain is the worst kind of winter precipitation; that is simply rain in liquid form that falls when temperatures are below freezing.

precip_types (1)

PLACEMENT: Current model data suggests the highest threat of freezing rain and icing issues will be along and north of I-20, but some impact is possible down to a line from Livingston to Clanton to Roanoke by Thursday morning.

IMPACT: Where the freezing rain falls for a long duration (5-6 hours), this has the potential to be a high impact event. Even higher than the huge snow event that just happened last night (some had up to one foot of snow).Freezing rain coats exposed objects with ice, and the weight of the ice can bring down trees and power lines if the accumulation is great enough. At this early stage, we can’t forecast specific impact, but a significant ice storm is not out of the question with potential for power outages.

UNDERSTAND: This forecast can, and will change. Let’s hope we just have a cold rain, followed by a quick change to sleet and light snow and it ends with little impact. But, on the other hand, this could be a very high impact event for North, and maybe even parts of Central Alabama, Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Please check the blog often for updates as we get closer.

AND: Strong storms are possible before the cold air arrives Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, but poor lapse rates will limit instability and it doesn’t look like a major threat for now.

Brian will be along shortly with a new discussion and a Weather Xtreme video.