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James Spann

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Tuesday’s Severe Weather Threat

| 6:36 am December 21, 2014

Brian will be along shortly with a new Weather Xtreme video and a forecast discussion. These notes concern the potential for severe weather in Alabama Tuesday. With so many people traveling this time of the year, there is great interest in the expected weather.

SPC OUTLOOK: On the day three convective outlook from the Storm Prediction Center, which covers the period from 6:00 a.m. Tuesday through 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, they have the standard “slight risk” of severe weather identified along and south of a line from Livingston to Greenville to Geneva. A “marginal risk” extends northward to a line from Hamilton to Birmingham to Auburn…

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Let’s first point out this is nothing unusual; we are in the core of the late fall/early winter tornado season in Alabama. Having thunderstorms at Christmas time has always been common here.

TIMING: The core severe weather threat will come from about 3:00 p.m. Tuesday through 3:00 a.m. Wednesday.

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Understand showers and storms are possible Tuesday morning as well, but those storms should remain below severe limits.

HIGH SHEAR, LOW CAPE: Another thing common with cold season severe weather threats in Alabama is this kind of setup; strong shear in the atmosphere, but marginal instability. CAPE stands for Convective Available Potential Energy, and is a measure of instability. Low level (0-1 km) storm relative helicity values are impressive…

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But it remains to be seen if sufficient instability can develop over the northern half of Alabama. Thunderstorms near the Gulf Coast could cut off the inflow of deep moisture into our part of the state, and clouds and morning showers could also limit the instability. Because of this the SPC guys have kept the core severe weather risk over the southern part of the state.

But, model data hints Birmingham could approach 70 degrees Tuesday afternoon, with dewpoints rising to near 60, which will help to create low level instability.

Keep an eye on blog updates for potential changes.

CHRISTMAS EVE: Rain will push out of the state Wednesday morning… the map below is valid at 12:00 noon CT Wednesday (from the new high resolution parallel GFS model)…

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Wednesday will be mostly cloudy, windy, and colder with temperatures falling through the 50s. There might be a snow flake or two over the far northern part of the state under the cold core upper trough passing overhead, but it won’t amount to anything with surface temperatures far above freezing, and the deeper moisture long gone. And, the latest model data suggests no risk of flurries over far North Alabama… just too warm.

CHRISTMAS DAY: Looks very nice with ample sunshine and a high in the 50s.

ONE MORE THING: We live in a world of weather hype thanks to national news media and the clickbait guys using outrageous headlines on social media. This is not a “monster storm”, “unprecedented”,  with “millions in the path” that “stuck without warning”. And, Alabama will not have a White Christmas with big Christmas Eve snow storm. Seems like we spend most of our time these days putting down the insanity that is floating around.

On our blog, we are not always right, but we use sound science, level heads, and do our best to simply communicate the truth.

Stay tuned for updates later today….

Severe Weather Potential Tuesday

| 2:27 pm December 20, 2014

This is a preliminary look at the severe weather potential across Alabama Tuesday, December 23. With so many people traveling that day, we all need to pay attention to the situation, although this early in the game there are more questions than answers.

LARGE SCALE SETUP: A vigorous, 500 mb upper trough will form west of Alabama early in the week, providing excellent support for showers and thunderstorms Tuesday.

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A low level jet (about 5,000 feet off the ground) will develop, in the 40-50 knot range, by Tuesday afternoon.

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So, the dynamic setup is impressive, but as always in the cold season, the big question is the instability, or the ability of air parcels to freely rise and become buoyant. A narrow tongue of higher instability will form ahead of a rapidly deepening surface low across Alabama Tuesday evening…

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It doesn’t take much CAPE (convective available potential energy) for severe weather issues in December, and even with CAPE values of 500 j/kg we will need to watch the situation closely. The 12Z GFS model is printing a high of 71 degrees for Birmingham Tuesday, with potential for dewpoints to rise into the 60 degree range.

TIMING: The highest risk for severe weather across Alabama will come, most likely, during the afternoon and evening hours Tuesday, when the air is most unstable. I would say now the prime window is from 12:00 noon to 12:00 midnight. But, understand this could easily change for an event three days away.

PLACEMENT: The SPC Day Four convective outlook suggests the primary risk of severe weather will come over Southwest Alabama…

day4prob

However, based on the forecast parameters, I would say most of the state will have some risk of severe storms, especially along and south of U.S. 278 (Hamilton to Cullman to Gadsden). I expect the SPC outlook to expand northward and eastward in future updates.

MODES OF SEVERE WEATHER: This is what has happened with similar surface and upper air conditions, using the top 15 analogs (from CIPS analog guidance)…

SVRgfs212F096 (1)

You can clearly see that all modes of severe weather will be possible with a setup like this, including a few tornadoes. Remember, this graphic is showing total severe weather output from 15 events, so it won’t be this active Tuesday… just a way of looking at what has happened in the past with a similar setup.

IMPORTANT: While the overall synoptic scale looks favorable for some severe weather Tuesday, we really won’t see how the mesoscale features will play out until tomorrow night and Monday. So, determining the overall threat level this far out is very difficult to do. Don’t let the social media kings of hype bother you, this doesn’t look like some “historic” event with “millions in the path”… just a situation that we have fairly often this time of the year. This is still the core of the late fall/early winter severe weather season in Alabama. Not unusual at all.

We will post frequent updates here as we get closer to the event.

CHRISTMAS EVE: The social media hype guys will also probably push a chance of snow on Wednesday under a very cold upper trough moving over the state.

gfs_ptype_slp_ky_19 (1)

Could there be a few a few flurries over extreme North Alabama Wednesday? Yes, but the deeper moisture will be long gone, and temperatures will be well above freezing. The bigger issues will be north of here with a very deep surface low just north of the Great Lakes…

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This will bring lots of wind and snow to the Great Lakes region Wednesday, and lots of rain for the eastern seaboard.

CHRISTMAS DAY: Looks like beautiful day for Alabama, with a sunny sky and a high in the 50s.

Again, stay tuned to the blog and we will keep you advised. If you are traveling, stay safe!

Periods Of Rain Tonight

| 3:40 pm December 19, 2014

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.

WET FRIDAY NIGHT: Rain is falling over much of West Alabama this afternoon, and that rain mass will overspread most of North and Central Alabama tonight. The air is cool and stable, so no severe weather threat, and most likely there will be no thunder. Rain amounts of around 1/2 inch are likely, and the rain will end pretty early tomorrow. Most communities will be rain-free by 8:00 a.m.

REST OF THE WEEKEND: We could see a little sunshine tomorrow afternoon as drier air works into the state; we expect a high in the mid 50s. Then, the daytime hours Sunday will be rain-free with a high in the low 60s. Some sun is possible Sunday.

A low pressure wave will move northeast out of the Gulf of Mexico as the weekend ends, and has potential to bring a little light rain to the state late Sunday night and Monday morning. The highest chance of rain will be east of I-65, and amounts should be generally 1/4 inch or less.

NEXT WEEK: The weather turns mild Monday and Tuesday; the 12Z GFS is printing a high of 65 Monday and 69 Tuesday for Birmingham. Look for developing showers Tuesday, and thunderstorms are likely Tuesday evening ahead of a well defined front. A few strong storms are possible ahead of the front, but for now the overall severe weather threat looks low for North and Central Alabama.

Wednesday will be breezy and colder; clouds linger much of the day with a chilly north wind of 10-20 mph, and there is a good chance we won’t get out of the 40s. Then, Christmas Day on Thursday looks very nice, with ample sunshine and a high in the 50s after starting the day at or just below freezing.

Next chance of rain will come around Saturday December 27… and the pattern favors colder weather for Alabama the week after Christmas, and possibly into the first few days of the New Year. See the Weather Xtreme video for the maps, graphics, and more details.

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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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My next Weather Xtreme video will be posted early Monday morning by 7:00 a.m…. Brian Peters will have the video updates here tomorrow and Sunday. Enjoy the weekend!

Rain Moving In Later Today

| 6:35 am December 19, 2014

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.

WET START TO THE WEEKEND: We are starting the day with mostly cloudy and cold conditions across the great state of Alabama; as cold as 28 degrees at daybreak up at Fort Payne. We project a high around 50 degrees today with a cloudy sky, and short wave energy approaching from the west will bring rain in here later in the day.

Rain will move into Southwest Alabama this morning, and it should reach the I-20 corridor by 3:00-5:00 p.m. We will forecast periods of rain tonight; the rain probably won’t be too heavy over the northern half of the state with amounts generally under 1/2 inch. No risk of severe weather, and with a stable airmass I don’t expect any thunder.

The rain will end early tomorrow; it will be over by 6:00-8:00 a.m. for most places.

REST OF THE WEEKEND: The sun might break out a bit tomorrow afternoon as drier air works back into the state; the high tomorrow will be in the upper 50s. Then, for Sunday, the sky will be occasionally cloudy with a high up in the low 60s. A wave of low pressure forming down in the Gulf will bring the risk of some light rain back in here by Sunday night; best chance of rain will be south of I-20, and east of I-65. That light rain will end pretty early in the day Monday.

MILD AFTERNOONS EARLY NEXT WEEK: The GFS is printing a high of 64 Monday, and 68 degrees Tuesday for Birmingham as we enjoyed two mild December days. We will mention a chance of showers Tuesday, and as a cold front approaches, showers and storms will become more widespread Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night. If temperatures do reach the upper 60s, there could be some surface based instability and we could very well see a few strong thunderstorms Tuesday evening. Not a classic severe weather setup, but always something to watch this time of the year.

COLDER CHRISTMAS EVE: The rain will move out very early Wednesday morning (probably in the pre-dawn hours), and the day Wednesday will be breezy and colder with lingering clouds; a decent chance we won’t get out of the 40s. The sky will clear late in the day.

Christmas Day looks wonderful with a good supply of sunshine. We start the day Thursday near freezing, and then we rise well into the 50s by afternoon. The 00Z GFS hints we could touch 60 degrees Thursday afternoon.

LONG RANGE: Seems like the ingredients are coming together for a colder pattern for the Deep South as we approach the beginning of the new year with the AO (Arctic Oscillation)/NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) combo trending negative; see the Weather Xtreme video for the maps, graphics, and more details.

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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…

Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus
Instagram

Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 4:00 or so this afternoon…. enjoy the day!

Need To Get In Touch With James Spann?

| 9:40 pm December 18, 2014

I always enjoy hearing from our viewers, listeners, and readers. Thanks to social media, broadcasting has become a two way conversation, and I do my best to give you easy access for weather questions, pictures you want to share, severe weather reports, and weather program requests.

Want to get in touch with me? Here ya go…

For weather program request for a school, or speaking request for a church or civic club, email is the best way.

EMAIL:  I have a countless number of email addresses, but my “hub” is the GMail account…

jspann@gmail.com

Want to email the WeatherBrains crew (our weekly podcast about weather)? Use email@weatherbrains.com

SOCIAL MEDIA: I dabble in this pretty heavily; here is what to expect if you “follow” me…

TWITTER: I am @spann. My twitter feed is special, not because of me, but because of the information my followers bring to the table. I have over 165,000 followers, and they share a rather eclectic array of information that I retweet. Following the @spann account is basically like subscribing to a newswire; if there is something big happening around here (Alabama), you will know about it first. Whether it is weather related, a big wreck shutting down a highway, a fire, explosion, “boom”, meteor, you will be in the loop.

It is also a place to find some remarkable photography. Sunrises and sunsets flow, along with a hodgepodge of sky scenes. And, of course, it is also about all things weather. Not just in Alabama, but nationally and globally. I am pretty quick to respond to questions, and since I don’t sleep much, the account is very active.

FACEBOOK: This platform is extremely frustrating since much of the content is filtered. Organic reach has dwindled to less than 10 percent, meaning of the 190,000 that follow me, only about 15,000 see most posts in their newsfeed. Find me here: http://www.facebook.com/jamesspann… and be sure and choose to receive notifications; that will increase your odds of seeing my content on a more regular basis. I respond to Facebook messages, and the page is open for you to post pictures or other content. You will find great weather information here, along with some really good pictures.

GOOGLE PLUS: Some call this platform “Facebook without the drama”… I find great engagement, and there is little filtering. The Google Plus feed here http://www.google.com/+JamesSpann is close to being a mirror of my Facebook feed, but occasionally I will post unique content.

INSTAGRAM: This is where I post the “best of the best” of the pictures sent to me via social media. It is a stunning collection of weather related photos… http://www.instagram.com/spannpix

With all of the time dedicated to social media and responding to email, I should mention you don’t need to call me; I have not answered my phone at work since 1998. I don’t know my number, don’t know how to get voice mail, and don’t even know where the phone is located. I have just “opted out”… I can’t talk on the phone at the station since I work in a studio, and when I have the time to call people back, it is close to midnight, and most folks just don’t appreciate calls that late!

Rain By Late Tomorrow Afternoon

| 3:53 pm December 18, 2014

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.

RADAR CHECK: The sky is generally cloudy across the great state of Alabama this afternoon, and there is very little action on radar… just a few sprinkles over the eastern counties. Temperatures are generally in the low 50s.

Clouds will linger tonight and tomorrow, and with short wave energy approaching from the west, rain will advance into Alabama from the southwest during the afternoon. The rain will be most widespread tomorrow night; the latest model guidance suggests the higher rain totals will come over South Alabama, where one inch is likely. Up our way, places like Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, and Gadsden can expect around 1/2 inch of rain. The prime window for the wet weather will come from about 3:00 p.m. tomorrow through 9:00 a.m. Saturday.

The air will be cool and stable, and there is no risk of severe weather, and we probably won’t have much thunder. We expect a high in the low 50s tomorrow, and mid to upper 50s Saturday.

Sunday looks like a dry day with a comfortable afternoon; the GFS is printing a high of 63 degrees with a little sun through the clouds. A wave in the Gulf will bring the potential for a little light rain to East Alabama late Sunday night and Monday morning; best chance of rain will be along and east of U.S. 431.

CHRISTMAS WEEK: Monday and Tuesday will feature very pleasant afternoons with highs up in the low to mid 60s. But, a cold front will move into Alabama with rain and thunderstorms likely late Tuesday into Tuesday night. A surface low over Tennessee Tuesday evening will deepen rapidly as it moves northeast, and with good upper support we could very well see a few strong thunderstorms around here, but at this point the chance of organized severe weather looks low with very limited instability values.

Wednesday (Christmas Eve) will be colder; clouds linger much of the day with cool north breeze and a high in the upper 40s. A little wrap around moisture could bring a few sprinkles or flurries to far North Alabama Wednesday morning, but for now it looks very insignificant (sorry, snow fans).

Christmas Day on Thursday looks very nice with a good supply of sunshine. We start the day near the freezing mark, down in the low 30s, but rise into the mid 50s by afternoon. Take some time to watch the Weather Xtreme video for maps, graphics, and more details.

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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…

Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus
Instagram

Had a great time today visiting with the third graders at Cherokee Bend Elementary School in Mountain Brook… be looking for them on the Pepsi KIDCAM today at 5:00 on ABC 33/40 News! The next Weather Xtreme video will be posted here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow…

Wet Beginning To The Weekend

| 6:35 am December 18, 2014

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.

RADAR CHECK: At daybreak we have some rain falling over the Tennessee Valley region of extreme North Alabama; even a few reports of sleet mixed in with the rain around Elkmont and Cloverdale. This will stay generally north of a line from Sulligent to Jasper to Oneonta to Gadsden…

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Today will be generally cloudy with a high not too far from the 50 degree mark. We note the average high for December 18 (for Birmingham) is 55 degrees.

WET START TO THE WEEKEND: A southwest flow aloft ahead of an upper trough in the southern branch of the jet stream will keep clouds over Alabama tonight and tomorrow, and with the approach of the main system rain will move in from the southwest during the day tomorrow. The places like Birmingham, Anniston, Gadsden, and Tuscaloosa, the primary threat of wet weather will come from about 2:00 p.m. tomorrow through 10:00 a.m. Saturday. The latest model runs have trended with a more southerly track to the main surface low, which should keep the heavier rain totals over South Alabama. Up our way, rain amounts should be somewhere in the 1/2 to 1 inch range. While some thunder is possible, there is no risk of severe weather for the northern two-thirds of the state.

Sunday looks like a dry day with a high in the 50s, but clouds could linger much of the day as another wave of low pressure forms in the northern Gulf of Mexico. As that wave moves northeast, it looks like we will need to introduce a chance of light rain Sunday night, mainly over the eastern half of the state. That batch of rain will end early Monday morning as the low moves on to the northeast.

CHRISTMAS WEEK: A cold front will bring a band of rain and thunderstorms to the state Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night with a rapidly deepening surface low just to the north. We might see a few strong storms Tuesday evening, but at this point it looks like the instability values will be insufficient for a severe weather problem. Then, on Wednesday (Christmas Eve), the day will be breezy and colder with lingering clouds and a high in the 40s. There could be a touch of drizzle, or a few light flurries over the Tennessee Valley Wednesday morning, but the deeper moisture will be long gone by then, and precipitation should not be significant.

Christmas Day looks pretty decent with a good supply of sunshine; we start the day with a light freeze (lows between 28 and 32), and then we rise into the low 50s Thursday afternoon.

And, another wave has the potential to bring some rain back into the state Friday. 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…

Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus
Instagram

I will be doing my last weather program of 2014 today at Cherokee Bend Elementary School in Mountain Brook… look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 4:00 or so this afternoon. Enjoy the day!

Good Soaking Beginning Friday Afternoon

| 3:38 pm December 17, 2014

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.

VARIABLE CLOUDS: Some North/Central Alabama communities are in bright sunshine this afternoon with temperatures in the low 50s, some places are dealing with a cloud over with temperatures in the 40s. No rain on radar, and the low levels remain dry.

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Not much change in our weather tomorrow; mixed sun and clouds with a high in the low 50s for most communities. We might consider a small risk of a shower as moisture levels begin to slowly rise.

RAIN RETURNS: A rather dynamic weather system will impact Alabama as the weekend begins. Rain will spread into the state from the southwest Friday afternoon, becoming widespread Friday night. SPC has a “marginal risk” of severe weather up for the western and central Gulf Coast, but even there instability values are marginal. No severe weather is expected over the northern two-thirds of Alabama, although some thunder is certainly possible.

The rain will end from west to east during the midday hours Saturday; rain amounts will average one inch, with potential for a little more over West Alabama. Then, we expect partial clearing Saturday night as drier air works into the state.

SUNDAY/MONDAY: These two days look dry and pleasant with a partly sunny sky both days and a high close to 60 degrees.

ACTIVE PATTERN BEFORE CHRISTMAS: Clouds thicken on Tuesday, and we will forecast a good chance of rain by Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night as a strong cold front approaches. The new high resolution parallel GFS model has a 993 mb low near Nashville Tuesday night, suggesting we might even have some risk of strong thunderstorms; that will all depend on the amount of instability available, which is always questionable this time of the year. We will watch model trends in coming days.

Then, on Wednesday (Christmas Eve), the weather turns sharply colder and blustery in the wake of the cold front. The day looks mostly cloudy, windy, and cold with temperatures having a hard time getting out of the low to mid 40s. A very deep surface low (960 mb) is forecast to form just north of Buffalo, and moisture wrapping around that could squeeze out a few flurries or sprinkles during the day Wednesday. If we do see flurries, they shouldn’t amount to anything significant with surface temperatures well above freezing and very limited moisture.

CHRISTMAS DAY: For Alabama, the day looks dry. We begin with a morning low down in the upper 20s, followed by an afternoon high in the low 50s with a good supply of sunshine. 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…

Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus
Instagram

I will be at the Tots for Tots campaign wrap-up this evening at Legacy BBQ on Highway 150 in Hoover… on ABC 33/40 News at 4, 5 and 6:00… then back in the studio at 10:00. The next Weather Xtreme video will be posted here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow…