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The period of very cold weather with winter storm threats for parts of the Deep South, something we have been discussing here for a while, is getting closer.The confidence in forecasting a frigid couple of weeks is very high. Quite frankly we are also very confident parts of the southern U.S. will have snow on the ground at the end of next week. I just can’t answer the big question everyone wants to know… where in the southern U.S.? I don’t know, and nobody knows at this point.
One of the greatest things any young meteorologist needs to understand is this: tell them what you know, and don’t tell them what you won’t know. Having said that… let me tell you what I know…
SHORT TERM: Could the sun actually make an appearance today? The STJ is indeed moving to the east and south, and the northwest corner of Alabama is clear as I write this. This gives us hope that today will be brighter. Not warmer, however, as cold air advection will be going on with a chilly northwest wind up to 20 mph. Highs in the mid to upper 40s. If the sky is clear tonight, we should head toward the mid 20s by daybreak tomorrow. Tomorrow will also be a cool and dry day.
THE WEEKEND: The NAM is the more aggressive model for the weekend system with moisture (extraction shows 0.38″ for Birmingham Saturday night), but it is also a bit warmer. The GFS is not as wet. Clouds will thicken Saturday, and there will be some rain Saturday night. The 00Z NAM shows the 850 mb (5,000 feet or so) temperature at Birmingham late Saturday night at 0.7 degrees (C), with temps below freezing at that level north of the city. However, the 2 meter temps are warmer; the model shows low 40s Saturday night.
I think we just need to hold with the ongoing forecast; some rain Saturday night, possibly mixed with sleet or snow north of Birmingham. Temperatures during the night should generally remain above freezing, so at the moment no travel problems are expected. But, lets keep a close eye on this as it develops.
Sunday will feature an Arctic blast; we should be in the 30s all day with the chance of some lingering flurries during the morning.
NEXT WEEK: The first half of the week should be cold and dry. Once again the GFS numbers look laughable; way too warm. What everybody is talking about is the system at the end of the week. And, every model run will be different. Sure, it is fun to watch them roll in, but trying to predict details of a winter storm in the southern U.S. 7 days in advance is a waste of time. It is hard enough doing that one day in advance. We have seen GFS runs that show all snow for I-20; the 06Z run (the latest in the house) shows a rain changing to show scenario for our area Thursday afternoon into Thursday night and Friday morning.
No doubt somebody south of the Mason-Dixon line will have a nice blanket of snow on the ground on Friday Feb 2… might be Nashville, Knoxville, Atlanta, Memphis, Birmingham, Montgomery, or Charlotte. Some snow lovers will be delighted, others will be disappointed. But, for those who don’t get it at the end of next week, there will be other chances down the line. And, I don’t even want to go there yet.
While the buzz and talk with center on the storm threats, just remember the cold air is a big story. For some folks around the nation, this will be the coldest air in over a decade in coming weeks. And yes, that includes the Deep South.
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The busy days continue… I will be speaking at Westwood Baptist Church in Forestdale this morning; and we are all working to finish the stories for Storm Alert 2007 since we are a week away. I will have the next Weather Xtreme video by 3:30 this afternoon!
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