ABC 33/40 Weather Blog

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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: 6 hours 44 min ago

Clouds Hanging Tough, A Cool Monday

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:06

You can definitely feel the change in the air mass behind the front that moved through overnight. We are seeing temperatures  some 30 degrees cooler than they were yesterday. Many areas did see a soaking rain overnight and that rain has since moved out and left in its wake some thick clouds.

The clouds will slow our warming today and our daytime highs will need to be adjusted down a few degrees. Most locations across Central Alabama will see highs in the upper 40s, while locations to the south can expect some 50s.

There are a few breaks in the clouds trying to let some sun shine through across the area. I think through the afternoon we will see a few more peeks of sunshine. Today’s cool down will be short-lived. A new storm system will develop over the southern Plains overnight and will pull a warm front back north across the state. We expect to see highs back in the mid to upper 60s tomorrow with a chance of thunderstorms by the evening.

Categories: Weather

Review Of The Jan 28 Alabama Snow Event

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 08:00

Birmingham received 2.0 inches of snow on Tuesday, January 28, 2014. Other snow amounts across North-Central Alabama varied generally from 0.5″ to 3.0″. For most places over the northern U.S., this is nothing but another winter day; people wouldn’t even notice it. Around here, it was a nightmare for some.

FORECAST BUST: On a synoptic scale, the forecast was good. An overrunning snow event for Alabama, with significant accumulation for some. On the mesoscale, the forecast was a disaster since there was a displacement of the heavier snow band on the northern end. This put down accumulating snow over larger cites like Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, and Gadsden. Cities where a “dusting” was forecast. The “dusting” bust will live long in Alabama weather history. Here is the National Weather Service forecast, issued at 5:35 a.m.

And, the forecast graphic I prepared at about the same time the morning of January 28…

You can see the small scale nature of the forecast miss. If the northern boundary of that 1-2″ zone was pulled about 40 miles to the north, the situation would have been covered. It is unfortunate that those 40 miles just happened to represent the most populated part of Alabama.

In coming weeks and months, we will look at the reasons for the spacial forecast error. But I don’t know with our current skill set forecasts will improve much with winter weather situations in Alabama. Missing a northern 1-2 inch zone by 40 miles, quite frankly, isn’t very unusual… we just need to communicate uncertainty better.

SEQUENCE OF EVENTS: I honestly didn’t recognize the forecast error until 8:30-9:00 a.m. I was going about my business, and was headed to Northside Middle School in northern Tuscaloosa County for a weather program. I pulled over at the I-59/20 rest area near Brookwood, and after a review of data and reports, no doubt things were going wrong. After posting updates on social media, I turned around and headed back. Thankfully I made it Riverchase Parkway in Hoover before getting into gridlock. I walked the final mile to ABC 33/40 after abandoning the car. The National Weather Service finally issued a winter storm warning for Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, and Gadsden at 11:06 a.m.

CIVIL EMERGENCY: Even if I had the northern boundary of the 1-2 inch snow zone pulled 40 miles to the north, I would have not expected the impact on Alabama.

Once it was apparent that snow was accumulating more than forecast in the larger cities, schools and businesses closed, and everybody tried to get home, all at once.

And, the 1-2 inches of snow basically produced travel conditions you would expect from a crippling ice storm (a long duration of freezing rain). Travel went from difficult to impossible, cars were left in the middle of highways as people changed from a “get home” mindset to a “survive” mindset. Thousands of kids were stranded in schools, countless adults spent the night in their office, some spent over 20 hours stuck in their vehicle on Interstate highways. Families were separated, and this developed into a full blown civil emergency; a humanitarian disaster. A Civil Emergency Message was issued by the NWS at the request of EMA at 11:27 a.m.

CIVIL EMERGENCY WITH TWO INCHES OF SNOW? That is a question so many of are asking. Clearly the key parameter was the surface temperature, in the 18-22 degree range. It is very rare for snow to fall in Alabama with temperatures this low. A friend who works at the National Weather Service in Lubbock, Texas, writes…

“Even out here in Amarillo we typically get our worst travel problems and most accidents with 1-2 inches of snow. It actually seems like we have more problems with the dry, powdery snows than the wet, slushy snows. Just from my short experience out here, air temperatures of 28 F and lower seem to be when snow and ice accretion really start developing quickly on the roads.”

I will clearly tell you next time we expect 1 to 2 inches of snow with temperatures under 25 degrees (F), we will ramp up the forecast potential for travel disruption in a big way. Studies need to be done on the accretion process the morning of January 28, why so much ice was involved on roads with a powdery snow.

IMPACT FORECASTING: We are in the business of forecasting weather; we need to learn a better way of forecasting, and communicating the actual impact of weather events. Social scientists and emergency managers can help us, and we will be calling on them to make “impact forecasting” better. Not sure anyone could have called the impact of this specific event, even if the weather forecast was correct (with 1 to 2 inches of snow), but we still must learn and be better.

CREDIBILITY HIT: As should be the case, there was quick reaction to the bad forecast.

After a sleepless night, I wrote this apology the morning of January 29.

It was mentioned in the New York Times later in the day…

Forecast busts are part of what we do. Any human who forecasts weather will make errors. Like ours on January 28; even the mesoscale, 40 mile errors can be a disaster. The last time there was a forecast error with such human impact was in January 1982, when a timing error put the city in the same situation. The main difference in 1982 was that it was primarily a freezing rain event, and the shut down lasted longer.

If you can’t handle the heat, you don’t need to be in this job. I tell young people, if you do a good job with a severe weather event and get lots of praise, or nail a very difficult forecast, don’t get a big head. Keep a “hate mail” folder on your email program and cruise over there if you think you are something special. That nasty mail will bring you back to reality. On the other hand, if you miss a high impact forecast, go back to the kind emails you get during getter times so you won’t feel so bad.

By nature, a meteorologist has to have a very thick skin. Most all of the criticism I received in recent days is valid. People need to vent, and they need to vent at me. The extreme haters on social media will move on to the guy in the next big news story next week; they don’t bother me. Constructive criticism is one thing, pure hate, anger, and rage is another.

The big issue is that we need to rebuild lost credibility. We only do this by cranking out good, accurate products. And, resist the temptation to “hype up” every forecast with doom and gloom to keep us out of trouble. Constantly pushing the worst case scenario leads to the “cry wolf” syndrome, and is good for nothing. Bottom line is that we can’t let a forecast bust “get into our head”

SO MANY WEATHER SOURCES: I have spent much this day (Feb 2) putting down rumors of “two foot snowstorms” and other extreme events people are hearing about on blogs and social media. The latest trend is for the armchair mets to find computer model graphics that are extreme and post them across social media. Some of the graphics are valid 7 to 15 days way. The truth is that there is very little skill in a specific forecast beyond seven days. You can use pattern recognition, and look for model consistency. But, no real skill.

Yes, I show model output beyond seven days during deterministic and ensemble output on my daily Weather Xtreme videos, which I have been producing every weekday for the past 10 years. But, I clearly state the model output in the medium range (days 7-15) as “voodoo”. We are just looking for trends, and watching teleconnections. Long time blog readers and users of my products totally understand this.

I produce those videos year round, not just when the weather is “sexy” with some chance of snow, or severe weather.

I actually don’t mind the “armchair meteorologists”… all of us working professionally used to be one when we were kids. The problem comes when they give inaccurate information that confuses the public, and information that can become dangerous. Like forecasting a “April 27″ type tornado outbreak, when in truth the actual severe weather threat is marginal. And, since we all have social media accounts, we can push our forecasts to the world, and they can go viral if you make them extreme enough.

And, the armchair people generally have no understanding of the physics, resolution, or biases of the “models” they post. They are just looking for the pretty blue colors that show a big snow, or red colors that hint at big storms. The earth’s atmosphere is complicated, and chaotic. Forecasting the weather is much more than NWP (numerical weather prediction).

But the problem we are seeing today is mostly due to the missed January 28 forecast. It will take some time to repair the damage done to our reputation (the professional weather enterprise). Totally our fault, but we must press on. You ultimately have the choice of using products like our weather blog, or some “model map” somebody posted on a Facebook wall. I hope you consider our products and services over social media hype. I will write more bad forecasts in the future (that is why it is called a forecast), but I assure you the best science knowledge available and long years of experience is put to good use in our products.?

BOTTOM LINE: We will have an IWT (Integrated Warning Team) meeting in the near future with the National Weather Service, broadcast meteorologists, and emergency managers as we begin to review January 28. As a weather enterprise, we must use mistakes to get stronger, smarter and better.

THE GOOD THING: Over and over the stories of human kindness and compassion are being told. I have literally hundreds and hundreds of these kinds of messages…

“To Whom it May Concern: I know you have probably been bombarded by emails, phone calls, etc. about miraculous stories from the snow storm that hit our city, but I would like to let you know of one more. It may sound dramatic, but I would have died had the Splawn Family not picked me up on the side of the road. I was forced to abandon my car in a Hoover neighborhood and began walking to a friends house. Little did I know it was all up hill and I would eventually fall and hurt my leg that it made it incredibly hard to walk. As it began to get dark outside, I was frozen from head to toe, trying my best to get to my friend’s house, only to feel so defeated and scared that I was going to die.

The Splawn family had left the comfort of their home (where they were all together) to brave the elements to take pillows, blankets, and toothbrushes to a local elementary school. Had that family not given selflessly of themselves to others, they would have never seen me walking on up that hill. They picked me up, no questions asked, and let me stay the night with them. Was it crazy to get in the car with a stranger? Sure, but I was desperate. I would have died without that family – they were a true miracle. If they could be recognized in some way, I would be so grateful. Thank you so much in advance”

I am so proud of the people of Alabama and their response to the winter storm. I was born here, and I plan to die here. Being southern born and southern bred is a blessing sometimes I don’t appreciate. Thanks to all of you for your support.

Categories: Weather

Cooler Air Arrives; More Active Weather Ahead

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 07:26

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.

RAIN ON THE WAY OUT: A radar check just before daybreak shows most of the rain quickly exiting East Alabama, and the day ahead will be mostly rain-free for Alabama. The weather will be sharply cooler; the high for places like Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, and Gadsden will be around 50 degrees, and many communities over North Alabama won’t make it out of the 40s. The sun could break out this afternoon as drier air works into the state temporarily.

ACTIVE PATTERN: This is a very active flow pattern across North America, meaning it won’t stay dry around here for long. A dynamic storm system will bring more rain to our state late tomorrow and tomorrow night; looks like the main window for rain comes from about 3:00 p.m. tomorrow through 3:00 a.m. Wednesday.

STRONG STORMS? This is a very dynamic weather system, but with marginal thermodynamics. Something we see pretty often during the cold season. There is very little surface based instability, but excellent dynamic forcing. The SPC does not have any formal severe weather risk defined for Alabama; just low end 5 percent probabilities for the northwest part of the state tomorrow night.

We will monitor trends closely during the day tomorrow, but for now severe weather looks unlikely. A strong thunderstorm is possible, however. Rain amounts of 1/2 to 1 inch are likely.

WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY: These day days look calm, dry, and cool. Expect a high between 47 and 50 degrees with little risk of rain, although clouds will be around at times both days. Coldest morning will come early Thursday with temperatures dropping into the mid to upper 20s.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: Moisture levels rise Friday, and we will need to mention a chance of showers as another weather system begins to get it’s act together west of Alabama. Occasional showers will continue Friday night and Saturday; the high Friday and Saturday will be in the 50s with a cloudy sky.

We should point out there are considerable model differences over the weekend, but no doubt another vigorous weather system will bring a big soaking to the state. The ECMWF (European) brings the heaviest rain through here Saturday night, while the GFS holds it off until Sunday. Both solutions show very little instability, so like the Tuesday’s system, severe storms most likely won’t be an issue. Rain amounts should be in the 1 to 2 inch range over the weekend.

And, as the rain moves out, there is a chance of wrap-around moisture in the colder air bringing snow flurries to the northern half of the state. The Euro solution has this possibility during the day Sunday; the GFS shows it Sunday night. One way or another, snow flurries in this type situation rarely ever bring any accumulation or travel issues.

We stress in this kind of very active pattern, it will be very hard to provide detailed specifics about the weekend system until we get the mid-week one out of here. Take some time to watch the Weather Xtreme video for the maps, graphics, and details.

MID-MONTH: Global models continue to show a very active, mostly zonal upper air flow across North America through mid-month, meaning frequent rain producing systems for Alabama.

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. Promises to be a very interesting show tonight; Bill Murray is live at the American Meteorological Society annual meeting in Atlanta, and we will discuss last week’s snow forecast that went wrong. The show begins at 8:30p CT… and 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 have a weather program today at Eden Elementary School in Pell City… look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 4:00 or so this afternoon. Enjoy the day!

Categories: Weather

Quick, Late-Night Radar Check

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 01:40

Not much extra to say. We continue see numerous showers and a few thunderstorms move from southwest to northeast across the state. These showers will persist for the next several hours as the rain shield slowly moves eastward.

We are seeing some heavy rainfall and gusty winds, but severe weather is not expected. Tonight is one of those night’s that will make for great sleeping conditions as there will be a constant pitter patter of rain.

We see the back wedge of the rain approaching the Interstate 55 corridor in northern Mississippi. All of Alabama will see a soaking rain before the sun comes up in the morning. Through the day on Monday, we will see a majority of the showers taper off from west to east across the state as a cold front will continue to move to the south.

Categories: Weather

Heavy Rain and Gusty Winds at Times Tonight

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 23:37

Some more intense showers and storms are moving from Tuscaloosa towards Birmingham. Gusty winds are the main threat with this line of convection. We are seeing some heavy rain accompany this line of convection as well.

As this line passed through Tuscaloosa, winds increased to the upper 20s with higher gusts. Highest gust recorded at the Tuscaloosa Airport was 37 mph. This thin line is heading towards the east and will be impacting the Birmingham Metro within the hour, then will be heading out Intestate 20 corridor towards Anniston.

We have even seen a few reports of ice pellets or graupel mixing in with some of the heavier downpours. Once again, no storms are severe and we are not expecting severe weather overnight. Just some gusty winds and a heavy, soaking rain.

Categories: Weather

Through the Overnight

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 23:18

Cold front continues to sink towards the southeast across the state. The front is just to the north of Interstate 59 and is running parallel to it. Through the overnight, the cooler air will continue to settle into the state overnight.

Currently we are seeing quite the range in temperatures across the state. The southern two-thirds of the state remain well into the 60s. Behind the front, 30s and 40s are present across the Tennessee Valley. As the front passes, we will see an increase in winds, but nothing near severe limits.

The main story overnight will be the rain. We should continue to see moderate to heavy rain for much of North-Central Alabama. Some locations have already received close to an inch of rainfall, and another inch of rain is possible.

As we look to our west, there is ample moisture and still a lot of showers and embedded thunderstorms that will continue to spread east and will impact Alabama. The storms are below severe limits, but could have some gusty winds along with heavy rainfall. Severe weather is not expected tonight but we will see a soaking rain. Cooler air and less rainfall is expected for Monday.

Categories: Weather

A Very Wet Night Ahead

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 21:17

We have seen the showers and thunderstorms move into the Central Alabama throughout the evening hours. The rain will continue through the overnight hours and we are expecting a soaker of a night for all of Central Alabama.

A majority of the rain has been along and north of the Interstate 20 corridor and that is what the models suggested would happen earlier today. There is a lot of rain back off to our west across Central Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana and that rain is heading towards Central Alabama.

We can expect the rain through the overnight hours, before we will begin to see a majority of the rain taper off during the morning hours.

Categories: Weather

Another Quick Look at the Radar

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 18:46

Many locations across Central Alabama are seeing the showers and storms increasing. Very heavy rain is falling with this activity and we are getting reports of gusty winds. All storms currently remain below severe limits. We are not expecting any organized or widespread severe weather tonight. All activity continues to move off to the northeast this evening.

We will see additional showers and storms move into the state the next few hours and we are looking at a very wet night across Central Alabama.

The weather is causing traffic troubles throughout the area. Slow down and please use caution in this weather.

Reports of an over-turned 18 wheeler in the median at mile marker 73 in Tuscaloosa County on Interstate 20/59. There are back-ups in both directions.

Skywatcher John Talbot reports an 18 wheeler has hit a power pole along Highway 78 and Pratt Highway area in Forestdale and it has knocked out power in the area. Traffic troubles and delays are being reported throughout the area being impacted.

Categories: Weather

Central Alabama Radar Check

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 17:26

We are seeing showers and a few thunderstorms overspreading Central Alabama this afternoon. Heaviest rain is falling along the Intestate 20/59 corridor currently and is impacting areas from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham. We will continue to see the showers and storms lift towards the northeast the next few hours.

With these showers and storms, we are seeing some gusty winds and heavy rainfall. At this time, there are currently no severe storms anywhere, despite a warning over East-Central Mississippi earlier this afternoon. We could see some strong storms the next several hours, and there could be a very isolated chance for a severe storm. Most of the activity remains very unorganized this afternoon.

As we head through the evening hours, we are expecting more showers and storms to move into the state and all of Central Alabama will see a soaking rain during the overnight hours.

Categories: Weather

Showers and Storms Spreading East

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 15:44

Many areas across the state remain dry, but we are beginning to see showers increasing across western portions of the state. The radar is filling into our west and we can expect that rain and some embedded thunderstorms to continue to shift east throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

The SPC has issued a slight risk for severe weather over portions over Central Mississippi and that is where the better ingredients and dynamics are and they should remain there. We could see a few strong storms move into western portions of the state during the evening, but as of now, storms should remain below severe limits. Storms will be possible across Central Alabama during the late evening and overnight to about midnight. We do expect to see quite a bit of rain during the overnight hours.

Categories: Weather

Possible Rainfall Totals the Next Few Days

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 13:10

Much of the Southeast well have a couple of rounds of showers and thunderstorms to next few days. We have a very moist air mass in place as precipitable water values range 1.5 to 3 inches across the state. Looking at the QPF off the GFS model from this morning shows a very wet time between now and Wednesday morning.

Locations across the northern half of Alabama are forecast to see the most rain as the northern half of the state will see upwards to two inches. Across the Tennessee Valley, even higher totals expected where three inches are possible. We have been dry lately, so the ground is expected to hold the amount of rainfall forecast rather well. At this time, no flooding is expected.

Even higher totals are expected across Tennessee and Kentucky, but much of that precip will be in the form of snow and ice. The two main waves of precip expected across the region will be this evening and overnight, then again on Tuesday and Tuesday night as frontal boundaries will enhance the uplift across the region and cause heavy rain at times and even some thunderstorms.

Categories: Weather

Severe Weather Risk to our West

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 11:44

The SPC has issued their standard slight risk for severe weather just to the west of Alabama. Much of Central Mississippi has been included in the risk area outlined in green. The does include Interstates 20 & 55 as well as the city of Jackson.

Cold front moving in from the northwest and southerly flow from the Gulf of Mexico are providing the needed ingredients for the threat of severe weather today. A strong low-level jet and a boundary layer that is favorable for a few supercells are the reason for the risk being issued. The main threat with storms that form will be damaging winds and tornadoes.

At this time, no part of Alabama is included in a risk. We will continue to see showers develop and move north across the state in the warm sector. Later this evening, we are expecting to see a few thunderstorms, and we will have to watch and see if the SPC extends the risk eastward in later convective outlooks.

Categories: Weather

Dense Fog and Rain

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 09:08

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.

No shadows for groundhogs in Central Alabama as dense fog and clouds blanket a good portion of the Southeast US this morning. Early morning drivers need to allow some extra time to reach their destinations. Foggy conditions should improve in the 8 to 10 am time frame as the fog lifts and visibility improves. Another interesting temperature trace over the last 24 hours as the temperature flattened out around 11 pm last night and actually have been slowly rising this morning.

Our Skywatcher in Black Creek reported this morning that his 6 am temperature was at 48 but he still dipped to 32 for a low before the temperature began to climb. Looks like in spite of the clouds, fog, and rain later that we’ll see the temperature rise into the lower and middle 60s across Central Alabama ahead of an approaching cold front. There is some instability with the approaching front, so we could get some thunderstorms, but the current data does not suggest that thunderstorms will reach severe limits. The primary area where thunderstorms could approach severe criteria is over southern Louisiana where CAPE values and richer low level moisture appear supportive of near-severe storms. We’ll have to keep an eye on that area to see exactly how the mesoscale actually develops.

Precipitable values are pretty high for this time of year, so we’ll have to be watching for heavy rain potential. Flash flooding is not expected since we’ve seen a fairly long spell of dry weather. But with rain coming quickly again Tuesday and early Wednesday, this will need careful watching for any potential flash flooding threats. There is also a band of winter weather with freezing rain, sleet and snow stretching from West Texas all the way to southern Pennsylvania. So if you have plans to travel northward today, you might want to assess your route of travel and perhaps leave earlier or consider delaying your trip.

The front should move through Central Alabama, stall out, and then move back on Tuesday along with another upper level impulse coming out of the Southwest US. That upper level impulse reaches Pennsylvania by midday on Wednesday allowing us to cool down and dry out before the next system approaches on Friday and Saturday. Friday looks mainly dry as that next short wave begins to kick out of Texas Saturday. Once again, there is potential for severe weather to develop over the Southeast US ahead of this negatively tilted trough. Cold air digging into the Central US and coming southward into Oklahoma and North Texas could also bring another round of winter weather to North Texas, Southeast Oklahoma, and northern Arkansas. A surface low will develop in the vicinity of South Louisiana on Saturday and move northeast across Alabama on Sunday, so we will need to see how and where the warm sector develops for the potential for severe storms next weekend. Right now it would appear that it could be somewhat further south of Central Alabama, but even a small change in the exact location of the surface low could change all of that. Since we’re verging on voodoo country, it is unwise to try to be very specific that far out.

Not much change to the overall long range pattern with a deep trough in the eastern US. The GFS does have that trough a bit further east than the run yesterday morning, which would put the extreme cold over the Mid-Atlantic states with a potential winter storm for them. But this is way into voodoo country.

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 Ashley Brand J. B. Elliott Bill Murray Brian Peters E-Warn (AL wx watches/warnings)

Hope your groundhog doesn’t see his shadow! James Spann will have the next full edition of the Weather Xtreme Video on Monday morning. Stay tuned to the Blog for latter updates on our active weather pattern. Have a great day and Godspeed.


Categories: Weather

Dense Fog Advisory to the South Tonight

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 22:13

The National Weather Service in Birmingham has issued a Dense Fog Advisory for some of our southern counties until tomorrow morning. Counties shaded in gray are being impacted. Use caution and slow down if you are driving in fog and use those low beams. Areas along and south of U.S. 80 and Interstate 85 are being impacted. This includes Auburn, Montgomery, Troy, and Selma.

Categories: Weather

Heading through the Overnight

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 19:28

It has been a terrific day of weather across much of the state as many areas saw more sunshine than clouds. We have also had southerly flow increase and that is bringing in a new air mass across the state. Most locations were able to climb well into the 60s today, with even some 70s across southern portions of the state.

All of Alabama remained dry today and we should remain dry heading into the overnight hours, with only an isolated shower or two across the northwestern portions of the state. After midnight we should begin to see some showers trying to work their way into the state from the northwest. We will watching the radar to our northwest as a cold front in the Mississippi River Valley will be diving southeastward tomorrow. It will bring showers and perhaps a few thunderstorms for Sunday.

Through the overnight hours our temperatures will not drop much. As we look at the forecast model output for 6AM in the morning, we will see a range in temperatures from 50s across western and southern portions of the state, 40s along the Interstate 65 corridor, and even some 30s creeping into portions of East Alabama. These are a far cry from the single digits we had earlier this week.

Categories: Weather

Update for Those Traveling Northward

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 17:33

Since the morning Weather Xtreme Video, a number of winter weather watches, warnings, or advisories have sprung up across the area from San Angelo, TX, across Southeast Oklahoma, northern Arkansas, northern West Tennessee, northern Middle Tennessee, eastern Kentucky and parts of West Virginia and Virginia. A picture tells the story so much better, so see the map below.

The reddish pink areas are Winter Storm Warnings, the purple areas are Winter Weather Advisories, and the bluish-green color indicates Winter Weather Watches. These cover everything from freezing rain to sleet to snow occurrences. So if you have travel plans that will take you north, northwest, or northeast from Birmingham, you’ll want to keep an eye on the developing winter weather along your route.


Categories: Weather

Mild and Dry Saturday

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 15:57

It is not a bad Saturday across the state. We are all dry and with southerly flow and sunshine today we have all warmed up nicely. Widespread 60s across the state and even some 70s down south. It remains a bit cooler across eastern portions of the state where the clouds have been hanging around, but those are beginning to erode away.

We are seeing more clouds beginning to move into the state from the west and the south. Most locations should remain dry today, but there is a chance for a few widely scattered showers across the state today and into the overnight hours. We do note that we are seeing more shower in Arkansas along a frontal boundary. That boundary will be heading east and will bring the showers with it Sunday.

Categories: Weather

Clouds on the Increase

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 13:20

Depending where you are in the state, you are either seeing clouds or sunshine. Clouds are hanging tough across eastern portions of the state, and are slowing the warming process in those areas. Up and down the Interstate 65 corridor from Mobile to Huntsville locations are seeing mostly sunny conditions. The sun is allowing things to warm up nicely as upper 50s and 60s are showing up on the weather map.

We are also seeing southerly flow across the region and that is allowing moisture levels to rise as well. Dew points were below zero earlier this week, but have since returned to the 40s and 50s today. That is showing the atmosphere over the state is saturating and means we will have to deal with rain before the weekend is over.

As we look off to the west, we notice a lot of clouds across Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Those clouds are moving east and will move into Alabama later today and especially overnight as a storm system will be approaching the state. Enjoy the sun and dry weather today, because Sunday will be cloudy and wet.

Categories: Weather

A Look Back at January Temperatures

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 11:05

I think just about everyone knows that January, 2014, was cold. So just how cold was it? Let’s take a look at the month of January and pull out some highlights from the observations taken at the Birmingham Shuttlesworth Airport.

The average high for January, 2014, was 48.2 which makes this the 11th coldest January on record since 1900. The average low, however, was 24.1 degrees which puts January, 2014, as the 3rd coldest January on record since 1900 behind only 1940 at 21.5 and 1977 at 22.1.

The coldest low for the month was 7 degrees on January 7th, but we dipped into single digits on the 29th and 30th with 9 for the second coldest lows. The warmest low was 48 degrees on January 13th.

For highs, our coldest high for the month was 24 on January 7th, and our warmest high was on the 11th with 65 degrees.

The day with the least amount of temperature change was January 28th with a high of 24 and a low of 16.

The wettest day in the month was the 11th with 0.69 inches measured.

The snowfall on January 28th produced only 8 hundredths of an inch of liquid, so the ratio of snow to water was about 20 to 1, perhaps even a little higher. The “standard” liquid water equivalent is usually around 10 to 1.

Some interesting notes on a very chilly January.


Categories: Weather

Warmer But Wetter

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 08:29

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According to preliminary data from the National Weather Service, January, 2014, in Central Alabama will come in around the 11th coldest month based on the daily average highs, but will be the 3rd coldest month based on daily lows behind only January of 1940 and 1977. I’m pretty sure we all suspected something along these lines since it has been downright cold. The 4 degree low at my house on January 30th was the lowest I’ve seen since I moved here in 1989 with the exception of March, 1993, and my weather station was not in place then. But it looks like February is going to start on a somewhat mild note, and that’s just fine by me. We’re still going to have to keep a close eye on what continues to be an active pattern for the US.

This morning the upper flow pattern at 500 millibars shows a trough over the western US with a ridge over the eastern US. This pattern is forecast to persist through much of the week ahead, so it will keep the Southeast under a southwesterly flow aloft which should keep us warmer than usual but it will also keep us wet. The GFS holds this overall pattern for several days as several short wave impulses move out of the Southwest US. This means that we’ll be seeing cold fronts coming toward our area, but the coldest air is expected to stay off to our north and northwest.

Today should be dry but cloudy as low clouds were pushing northward along the Alabama/Mississippi line. So we’ll see some sunshine today but clouds will be in the mix, too. Look for a high around 60 to 62 – nice! While the moisture is definitely on the increase, I don’t expect to see any significant chance for rain today.

Rain chances climb Sunday as one impulse rides northeastward out of Texas across the Mid-South into the Central Appalachians. Cold air remains across the Ohio River Valley with rain coming to an end on Monday. But we will cool down somewhat with highs in the 50s. Yet another impulse kicks out of the Southwest US on Tuesday with a surface low forming in the vicinity of Southeast Texas and moving northeast into New England by Wednesday afternoon. We’ll have to watch to see how the potential for severe weather develops. Right now it does not appear that this will be a big severe weather producer, however, what appears marginal right now could become better developed as we get closer to the event and the details in the mesoscale become clearer.

We should warm up into the 60s Tuesday before another front passes through Central Alabama and drops us back into the 50s. Because of the southwesterly flow aloft, it appears unlikely that the really cold air will make it into this area.

We end the upcoming week on a dry note until Saturday when the strongest impulse in this parade kicks our way from Texas. At this point we could see the pattern shift back to a trough along the Mississippi River with cold air once again impinging on the Southeast US. Right now there could be a potential for a round of severe weather for the Southeast US while further west in Oklahoma and Arkansas and Missouri and Kansas they may be dealing with a substantial winter storm. We’re edging into voodoo, so no one knows for sure, but this possibility is certainly on the table.

Looking out into Week 2, the GFS signals a return to colder weather for the eastern half of the country with the long wave trough once again becoming established along the Mississippi River by mid-February, so don’t let the warmer week ahead get you to put the winter clothing away just yet.

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James Spann Charles Daniel Ashley Brand J. B. Elliott Bill Murray Brian Peters E-Warn (AL wx watches/warnings)

I’m excited about the upcoming Storm Alert Tour from the Weather Department at ABC 3340. Our first stop is planned for Gadsden on February 6th with a program that begins at 6:30 pm. Hope you can get by to say hello. I expect to have the next Weather Xtreme Video posted by 8 am or so on Sunday morning. Godspeed.


Categories: Weather