The Winter Storm is well underway across Alabama this evening. The transition to snow is now approaching Interstate 20 in Jefferson County.
Where the transitions has occurred already, it happened very rapidly at locations across our northwestern counties. To begin with is was taking about an hour for the transitions to occur. The last few reports I have seen have it occurring in about five minutes.
Switch over from Rain to sleet to snow in Oak Grove in western Jefferson County in eight minutes.
Wet Snow now falling in Hoover.
Sleet atop Red Mountain.
More snow being reported throughout Jefferson County.
More Winter Weather Reports:
Sleet and snow falling across portions of Tuscaloosa County. Switch over to snow in Brookwood at 5:08PM, began accumulating at 5:14PM in grassy areas.
Snow is beginning to accumulate in Pickens County in Reform.
Some minor accidents in Lamar County because of ice covered roads.
U.S. 43 and Hwy 17 are seeing issues Road conditions are deteriorating rapidly.
Snow and ice spreading acros Etowah, St. Clair, Cherokee, and Calhoun counties.
Snow covering everything in Fyffe.
Sleet/snow near Leeds and Pell City
These are just a few reports of the thousands that are streaming in from across the state.
A few pics sent in via twitter:
From Scott Bouldin in the Kennedy Community of Lamar County.
From Brandi Kelley-Foster in Good Hope in Cullman County.
From Michael Moon in Etowah County.
Based on Ping data, social media and skycams … the snow line is south of Columbus , MS and to the city of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham and then to Anniston …. so basically HWy 82 to Tuscaloosa and then I-20 to the state line.
Based on Ping data and social media the snow line at 4:55 runs from north of Gordo to just north of the Birmingham metro area to Anniston… late report from Brookwood of snow now falling… switchover in Birmingham metro and Tuscaloosa is imminent…
To show you the dynamic nature of this powerful winter storm, there is now a severe thunderstorm watch, two severe thunderstorm warnings and a tornado warning in Florida.
Please click on the images to enlarge them.
Here is the latest composite radar from GREarth with temperatures, the watch and the warnings.
Here is a SimuAWIPS image focusing on three ways to look at the storm:
…In the large panel, you can see the composite radar of the Southeast with the frontal positions and the surface low near Panama City. The severe thunderstorm watch is highlighted in blue. The low has been strengthening rapidly and now has a minimum pressure of 1005 mb. By the time it reaches New England Friday morning, it should be down in the 973 mb range.
…In the top left panel, there is an enhanced infrared satellite image showing very cold cloud tops in bright colors.
…In the low left panel you can see the dramatic temperature contrast around the storm system.
Based on Ping reports from the last 20 minutes the snow line at 4:30 appears to be from Columbus , MS to just south of Jasper to Warrior to Anniston
Reports are coming in so fast that they are hard to keep up with, but needless to say conditions and changing quickly.
A majority of our northern counties are seeing the snow fall. Along the I-20 corridor, we are seeing more reports of a rain/sleet mixture. This mixture will be short-lived as a continued transition to all snow is expected. In East Alabama, significant icing is ongoing for Cleburne and Randolph counties where there is an ice storm warning.
We are seeing a very rapid transition over to snow throughout Central Alabama. It appears it is taking about 30 minutes for the rain to transition through the freezing rain to sleet and then to snow. Quite the drastic change in precip across the area.
We are going to see snow through the rest of the afternoon, into the evening hours as well into the overnight hours. Expect accumulations throughout the area. Here is the overall projected snowfall accumulations from the National Weather Service, but as dynamic as this system is, there could certainly be a few areas that see some higher accumulations. Over the next few hours, we will likely see road conditions deteriorate and travel is not recommended once you see the transition to snow.
Looks like the snow line based on Ping data is now near and north of a line from Sulligent to Jasper to Cullman to Centre as of the last 10 minutes
A quick look at our Hamilton skycam shows the snow is coming down rapidly. The transition is on from liquid to to frozen precip across the area and this transition zone is sinking south through the central portions of the state.
It is taking less than an hour for the rain to transition through freezing rain to sleet and then all over to snow. The snow is coming down fairly rapidly in areas that have seen the switchover, it is not taking long for accumulations to start on grassy areas.
Rain is rapidly transitioning to frozen precip and snow across Central Alabama.
We are seeing a majority of the snow reports across the northern counties, but that area of transition is dropping south, rapidly.
Snow is falling in:
Sleet being reported in:
northern Tuscaloosa County
St. Clair County
Still seeing rain at Birmingham currently, but numerous reports of snow mixing in throughout the metro area. Once your location sees the transition, expect the snow to last several hours.
THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS TRANSMITTED AT THE REQUEST OF THE
ALABAMA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY IN CLEBURNE COUNTY.
THE CLEBURNE COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY HAS ISSUED A
COUNTY WIDE CURFEW FROM 6PM TONIGHT UNTIL 6AM TOMORROW MORNING.
THE COUNTY IS REQUESTING THAT ALL NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL BE AVOIDED
TO ENSURE THAT EMERGENCY ONLY TRAFFIC IS ALLOWED ON THE ROADWAYS.
CLEBURNE COUNTY IS UNDER A STATE OF EMERGENCY DUE TO THE SEVERE
WINTER STORM IMPACTING THE AREA.
The rain is turning over to sleet and snow across the area. Via social media, it starts raining, then becomes a freezing rain and sleet mixture, and finally turns into snow. The radar image has changed rapidly the last hour as blue and pink, which are snow and a wintry mix, are taking the place of green which is mostly rain. We will continue to see the transition across Central Alabama through the afternoon.
Statement from NWS Birmingham:
Very dynamic situation ongoing here, as the low really starts spinning up in the Gulf. Looks like from surface analysis, the surface low is deepening about 1-2mb per hour, which is very quick deepening. Temps are cooling across the north, with laps soundings indicating that warm nose aloft quickly eroding due to that moistening aloft with dynamic cooling ongoing. We’ll have to just watch the radar from here on out to see where that heavier banding occurs where we get those heavier snowfall totals once the precip all changes over.
New projections for snowfall totals across Central Alabama. Once it starts snowing, it is expected to last for several hours. It will last into the evening and overnight hour and many locations are going to see an accumulation snow across the area.
Ping is an app used by the National Weather Service to monitor precip type …. you can help by downloading the app and reporting your precip type … http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/projects/ping/ … you can also see the current reports on a map here … http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/projects/ping/display/ you will need to zoom in to get northern Alabama but it should be very useful to see the changeover to snow as it approaches your area and help you plan a little better this afternoon. In the last 20 minutes ice pellets have been reported in northern Jefferson by observers according to Ping …. this usually represents the beginning of the changeover to snow. I will try to post more Ping reports as we go thru the afternoon.
We continue to monitor conditions to our north as the transition will occur from north to south across much of the area this afternoon.
From NWS Huntsville:
Rain is slowly changing over to frozen precip across the Huntsville CWA, but not uniformly.
Sleet/rain reports from Cairo, Madison, and Hunstville.
Heavy sleet and snow falling in Colbert County.
Sleet and icy conditions are beginning to increase slick spots on local roadways.
Dusting of sleet and snow reported in the city limits of Ardmore.
Sleeting heavily in Decatur.
Heavy snow fall in Waterloo.
The preliminary data from special weather balloon launch from UAH, shows the warm layer has cooled a degree and is actually half as thick as it was earlier today. This is because of dynamic cooling, which will cause our rain to switch over later today in Central Alabama.
Via social media for Central Alabama:
Icing on Mount Cheaha is bringing down limbs and utility lines on the mountain.
Sleet falling in Guin.
Heavy sleet in Hokes Bluff.
Tree and power lines starting to ice over in Wedowee.
Sleeting in Haleyville.
Sleet falling in Jacksonville.
Sleeting along I-20 near Leeds.
Mix of sleet and rain in Helena.
Heading through the afternoon, we are preparing for a ramp-up in reports as we will see the switchover to frozen precip in Central Alabama.
Important points for the rest of today and tonight…
*Travel/driving conditions will deteriorate between now and 4 p.m. As colder air moves in from the east, and dynamic cooling brings colder air down from aloft. I would not advise travel past 4 p.m. if at all possible across North-Central Alabama.
*Rain will change to snow quickly between 2 and 4 p.m. across North and East Alabama as a strong upper trough sweeps in from the west. This will come very quickly.
*A band of heavier snow, about 40 miles wide, will set up over North and East Alabama; this band could produce some 3-5 inch snow totals. This will most likely be somewhere close to I-59. North of this heavier snow band, amounts of 1-3 inches are likely.
*Freezing rain will likely continue over East Alabama’s Cleburne, Randolph, and Clay counties with significant ice accumulation likely, along with potential for power outages. Clay, Tallapoosa, Chambers, and Lee counties will also see some icing.
*Snow is likely from around 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. We will watch radar trends closely; someone within the heavier snow band could get more snow than forecast if indeed we see 8 hours of this.
*The snow/freezing rain ends around midnight; temperatures will continue to fall into the low to mid 20s early tomorrow, and hazardous driving will be an issue where snow falls tonight. Roads will begin to improve late tomorrow morning as a warming trend begins.
The rain to snow scenario matches our forecast from last night nicely. A winter storm warning remains in effect for places east of a line from Hamilton to Jasper to Birmingham to Sylacauga to Roanoke. An ice storm warning remains in effect for Cleburne and Randolph counties….?
FROM NWS HUNTSVILLE
…12:04 p.m. Snow/rain mix in Athens.
…12:12 p.m. Snow covering the ground in Cloverdale in Lauderdale Co., south of Cherokee.
…12:17 p.m. Moderate snow in Riverton in NW Colbert County.
…12:23 p.m. Big flakes in Killen and at UNA.
…12:29 p.m. Our old friend Jason Simpson posted a report of big flakes in Center Star.
…12:29 p.m. Icing on trees and egetation on top of Monte Sano.
…12:31 p.m. Snow in Russellville and in Underwood/Petersville.
…12:41 p.m. Small flakes mixing in on Old Madison Pike in Huntsville.
A new balloon has been launched from UAH and data from it will be available shortly. The NWS in Nashville did a special release at noon as did Birmingham.
…12:00 p.m. APCO reports 1900 customers out in Heflin. Not sure if ice related yet.
…12:45 p.m. @TrentPenny says ice forming along Hwy. 78 near Fruithurst in Cleburne county.
…12:46 p.m. Skywatcher Vic Bell reports 31.4F with rain still falling at Black Creek in Etowah County.
…12:50 p.m. Ice forming in Oxford.
We will have frequent updates throughout the storm.
It’s a dreary cold day across Central Alabama.
Temperatures in the I-20 corridor range from 41F at Tuscaloosa to 37F at Birmingham, to 38F at Celera to 35F at Anniston. Weather stations in eastern Jefferson County and western St. Clair County, like Center Point, Leeds, moody and Odenville are showing 34-35F.
Colder air continues to flow into eastern Alabama on the back of the appropriately named “Polar Wedgie.” A shout out to Charles Daniel from our team for introducing the term. It is now 32-33F across Cleburne and Randolph Counties where a serious icing situation is setting up. Ice storm warnings are issued for these two counties earlier. The Weather Service may choose to add additional counties to the ice storm warning soon.
In addition, there is increasing confidence that a significant accumulating snow will impact much of North and Central Alabama this afternoon and tonight.
The Winter Weather Advisory has been extended to include Pickens County.
Here are the current warnings and advisories:
But that is separate from what will happen to cause heavy snow over North Central Alabama this afternoon and evening.
Here is the setup:
An upper level low is located over Central Mississippi this morning. It is moving eastward.
A deformation zone sets up on the northern edge of these 850 mb lows. I’ve drawn it for you here.
Moist air circulates around the low. Some continues to wrap around it to the left while some of it splits and is shunted to the right. You can see the radar returns just to the south of it.
As this low heads eastward, this zone of enhanced upward motion will pivot across Central Alabama setting up a band of heavier snow.
From the NWS:
BASED OFF THE LATEST SUITE OF MODELS IT APPEARS THE DEFORMATION BAND WILL SET UP ALONG AND JUST NORTH OF THE
I-20/59 CORRIDOR. BASED ON THE LATEST MODEL GUIDANCE WILL MORE THAN LIKELY BE INCREASING SNOWFALL TOTALS THIS AFTERNOON AND
EXTENDING THE ADVISORY AND WARNING BACK TO THE SOUTH AND WEST. THE LATEST 12Z GFS INDICATES A MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW SOUNDING OVER METRO BIRMINGHAM AROUND 00Z TONIGHT. EXPECT THIS TYPE OF SETUP WOULD BE ABLE TO DROP A QUICK 2-3 INCHES OVER THE METRO AREA LATER THIS EVENING.
There is a lot of warm air aloft right now, but that will be cooled by dynamic processes and should be erased from the northeast through the afternoon.
Here is a noon look at the precipitation forecast from the RPM:
Here is the same look at 2 p.m. You can see snow breaking out (the blue color) over North Central Alabama, with significant icing continuing in East Central and North East Alabama. Snow could begin in the immediate Birmingham area as early as 3 p.m.
By 5 p.m., the changeover to snow is widespread across North Central with heavy snow falling in places like Jefferson and Shelby Counties, working down toward Tuscaloosa. The warning and advisory might have to be extend and west says the NWS because of increase snowfall amounts. The snow will accumulate quickly and roads will become hazardous in a short period.
By 6 p.m. here is the predicted precipitation:
The snow should begin ending from the northwest by 10-11 pm.. It should end in the Birmingham area by 2-3 a.m. and be out of the area completely before sunrise.
BOTTOM LINE – PLAN NOW!
There is still a high likelihood that we will deal with a significant accumulating snowfall across a good bit of North Central Alabama late this afternoon and tonight. Accumulation forecasts are being updated now.
Many businesses and organizations are closing at 2 p.m., some at 3 p.m. Others at 1 p.m. But the overriding message is to be where you want to be shortly after 3 p.m. if you work or live in the Birmingham Metro area. Make your plan now and execute it.
For excellent posts by James and Ryan on this developing winter weather situation.
A few notes… we can clearly now see the deformation axis, which will coincide with the band of heavier snow, setting over Central MS… this rotate into North Alabama this afternoon and early tonight. Snow forecast amounts will need to be ramped up a bit in the winter storm warning area. New update out soon, but we might need to mention 2-3 inches for the B’ham metro now.
We also are looking at mentioning snow potential for Tuscaloosa later this afternoon as well. In fact, the NWS is considering expanding the winter storm warning for counties like Pickens, Fayette, Lamar, and Tuscaloosa…
Road conditions will begin to deteriorate over North/East Alabama during the next 3 hours. Initially bridge icing, then black top roads could become snow/ice covered.
Here is HRRR model output valid at 5 p.m.
More shortly, but understand travel conditions will worsen across the northern half of Alabama between now and 3 p.m.
Quite the hodgepodge of weather across the state today.
For most locations in Central Alabama, we continue to see light rain this midday. That remains right on track with forecasts and the overall thinking for today, as well as current model data. Our temps remain in the mid-30s, but as we head into the early afternoon, the dynamics of the atmosphere will be changing and we will see the change over to snow and frozen precip for many areas across north-central Alabama. A quick look at current observations shows most everyone around the Birmingham Metro is doing okay at this time.
Current locations we are receiving reports of issues with ice and frozen precip are to our north and to our east. The wedge of cold air is into East Alabama and there are numerous reports up and down U.S. 431 of an ice glazing on utility lines, signs, mailboxes, etc., just about anything sitting still is receiving a coating of ice. An Ice Storm Warning is in effect for Cleburne and Randolph counties as significant icing is ongoing in these areas. Even some reports of scattered power outages already.
Reports of ice as far west as St. Clair county where ice is accumulating on fences in areas around Springville and Odenville.
Freezing rain is accumulating in Etowah County near the Sardis City and Whitesboro communities.
We also continue to hear of ice and freezing rain along the U.S. 278 corridor, including the Tennessee Valley of Alabama. We are beginning to see radar returns increase in this area as possible deformation zone is developing. This is an area of enhanced precipitation rates that commonly accompany winter weather systems.
Please use caution if you are in these areas as travel is not recommended. Heading into the afternoon, we are expecting road conditions to deteriorate in portions of Central Alabama. The main problem areas expected are east of I-65 where colder air and higher precip totals are expected. If you can, it would not be a bad idea to leave work early today before the onset of the possible snow and ice.
The NWS has dramatically upper their icing forecasts for the eastern Alabama counties of Cleburne and Randolph.
They have issued an Ice Storm Warning for those two counties. An Ice Storm Warning is issued by the NWS Birmingham when ice accumulations are expected to be 1/4 inch of more.
Large parts of those two counties will pick up between 0.15-0.35 inches of ice accumulation. Icing is already underway.
Winds are strong as well, gusting to 25 mph. This will make it easier for ice covered limbs to break and will make power outages more likely.
It is already 32F in Roanoke and Ashland. At least report it was 33F in Heflin and Barfield.
Here is a running thread of temperature/condition reports James started on Facebook.
The colder air continues to filter in from Georgia on the back of the Polar Wedgie.
Freezing rain beginning to accumulate across Cleburne County.
Reports of trees weighted down with ice and decks iced over at Muscadine in Cleburne County.
Freezing rain is beginning to accumulate at Wedowee in Randolph County.
Weather stations in the area indicate temperatures are hovering around 33F at places like Heflin and Saks and Barfield and Shoal Creek. It was 32F at last report in Ashland in Clay County.
Most of the precipitation in that area has moved into Georgia, but more is building back over West Central Alabama and will move into that area this afternoon. Precipitation is also increasing back over the Delta counties of Mississippi and we will see that later today as well.
Up in Northeast Alabama, it is 31F in Rainsville with freezing rain sticking to cars.
The wet bulb zero temperature will be something to continue watching today. It indicates areas where there is still room for evaporational cooling to lower the air temperature to the freezing mark. This WBZ line is now into East and Northeast Alabama. It is also present over Northwest Alabama. Temperatures that are above freezing in these areas will drop as precipitation moves in. This line continues pushing southwestward at around 25 miles an hour.
Scroll down for more forecast information. Be alert to an increasing threat for hazardous road conditions developing over eastern Alabama this morning and spreading southwestward through the day as colder air moves in aloft and at the surface. Snow will overspread the area this afternoon. You will want to be in place by 3 p.m. in the Birmingham area. Earlier to the east and northeast.
WILD MORNING AT CHEAHA
It would be wild to be atop Alabama’s highest peak right now. Just you can’t get there. From Tammy Power at Cheaha State Park “As you can tell by the SKYCAM we have yet to thaw. High winds continue and trees are down now. Power is out with ice on roads. This is not pretty. This is dangerous people must not visit. Falling trees could hurt people. Park closed. We were ready!”
I saw that hashtag on Twitter this morning. To the east, much of Central Georgia is iced in, but getting a temporary break as a lull in the precipitation occurs across their area. Steady snows continue across North Georgia however and should through the day.