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Blanket Of Moist Air Hangs Around

| 6:19 am May 28, 2015

AT DAYBREAK: All is quiet across Alabama this morning; the sky is cloudy and temperatures are between 65 and 70 degrees at most places. There is some light rain around Huntsville, otherwise the rest of the state is dry as the day begins.

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Another round of showers and storms is a good possibility this afternoon; not sure the rain will be as widespread as yesterday, but no doubt at least scattered showers and storms will form this afternoon in the moist environment across the state. The best chance of showers and storms will come in the 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. time frame, and while a strong storm is certainly possible, organized severe weather isn’t expected. The high today should be in the low 80s in most spots.

TOMORROW THROUGH SUNDAY: The overall pattern just won’t change much. Warm, humid days with a mix of sun and clouds, and each day the risk of scattered showers and thunderstorms, most likely during the afternoon and evening hours. Highs will be in the mid 80s, right at average values for the end of May. Showers and storms will tend to be pretty random; the chance of any one spot getting wet each day is around one in three.

And, that kind of weather will continue through much of next week as meteorological summer begins. Very routine for early June in Alabama. If you are new to our state, you might want to read this essay I wrote about summer weather forecasts here.

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TROPICS: The Atlantic hurricane season begins Monday of next week, and the GFS is showing some hints of tropical mischief in the eastern Gulf of Mexico in about a week… see the Weather Xtreme video for maps and details.

GULF COAST WEATHER: About 7 to 9 hours of sunshine each day along the coast from Panama City west to Gulf Shores through early next week, with the daily risk of widely scattered showers and thunderstorms. Highs on the immediate coast will stay in the low 80s, and the sea water temperature early this morning at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is 79 degrees.

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.

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

Storms Increasing Across Alabama

| 3:23 pm May 27, 2015

RADAR UPDATE: Showers and storms continue to increase, especially over the western half of the state at mid-afternoon. A severe thunderstorm watch is up for parts of East Mississippi until 7p CT.

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Showers and storms will progress eastward tonight; the main issues will come from gusty winds, frequent lightning, and brief heavy rain. Storms will end between 9:00 and midnight.

TOMORROW/FRIDAY: A pool of warm, moist air will stay locked over the Deep South, so we will need to mention the risk of scattered showers and thunderstorms both days. Then will be pretty random, and mostly during the afternoon and evening hours. Otherwise, mixed sun and clouds both days with a high in the mid 80s.

THE WEEKEND: No real change; the chance of any one spot seeing a shower or storm Saturday and Sunday is about one on three, and again the core risk will come during the 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. time frame. We reach the mid 80s both days with a partly sunny sky away from the showers and thunderstorms. Another words, very routine weather for the end of May in Alabama.

And, similar weather will continue into early next week. Warm, muggy days with the risk of scattered showers and thunderstorms.

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GULF COAST WEATHER: About 7 to 9 hours of sunshine each day tomorrow through the weekend with a few widely scattered showers and thunderstorms around each day; highs on the immediate coast from Panama City west to Gulf Shores will be in the low 80s… the sea water temperature this afternoon at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is 79 degrees.

COLLEGE SOFTBALL WORLD SERIES: We have Alabama and Auburn playing in Oklahoma City in the tournament that begins tomorrow; if you are headed that way understand showers and storms are possible on a daily basis, and rain delays are certainly possible, if not likely. The weather will trend drier by Sunday with few, if any showers around by then.

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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Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow…

NOAA Hurricane Season Outlook

| 12:54 pm May 27, 2015

NOAA released the annual hurricane season outlook today… here is the release:

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be below-normal, but that’s no reason to believe coastal areas will have it easy.

For the hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 to November 30, NOAA is predicting a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including zero to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). While a below-normal season is likely (70 percent), there is also a 20 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.

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“A below-normal season doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. As we’ve seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., referring to the 1992 season in which only seven named storms formed, yet the first was Andrew – a Category 5 Major Hurricane that devastated South Florida.

“The main factor expected to suppress the hurricane season this year is El Niño, which is already affecting wind and pressure patterns, and is forecast to last through the hurricane season,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “El Niño may also intensify as the season progresses, and is expected to have its greatest influence during the peak months of the season. We also expect sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic to be close to normal, whereas warmer waters would have supported storm development.”

Included in today’s outlook is Tropical Storm Ana, but its pre-season development is not an indicator of the overall season strength. Ana’s development was typical of pre-season named storms, which often form along frontal boundaries in association with a trough in the jet stream. This method of formation differs from the named storms during the peak of the season, which originate mainly from low-pressure systems moving westward from Africa, and are independent of frontal boundaries and the jet stream.

With the new hurricane season comes a new prototype storm surge watch/warning graphic from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, intended to highlight areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States that have a significant risk of life-threatening inundation by storm surge from a tropical cyclone.

The new graphic will introduce the concept of a watch or warning specific to the storm surge hazard. Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical cyclone, and it can occur at different times and at different locations from a storm’s hazardous winds. In addition, while most coastal residents can remain in their homes and be safe from a tropical cyclone’s winds, evacuations are often needed to keep people safe from storm surge. Having separate warnings for these two hazards should provide emergency managers, the media, and the general public better guidance on the hazards they face when tropical cyclones threaten.

Also new this season is a higher resolution version (2 km near the storm area) of NOAA’s Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting model (HWRF), thanks to the upgrades to operational computing. A new 40-member HWRF ensemble-based data assimilation system will also be implemented to make better use of aircraft reconnaissance-based Tail Doppler Radar data for improved intensity forecasts. Retrospective testing of 2015 HWRF upgrades demonstrated a five percent improvement in the intensity forecasts compared to last year.

This week, May 24-30, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. To help those living in hurricane-prone areas prepare, NOAA offers hurricane preparedness tips, along with video and audio public service announcements at www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.

“It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall in your community to significantly disrupt your life,” said FEMA Deputy Administrator Joseph Nimmich. “Everyone should take action now to prepare themselves and their families for hurricanes and powerful storms. Develop a family communications plan, build an emergency supply kit for your home, and take time to learn evacuation routes for your area. Knowing what to do ahead of time can literally save your life and help you bounce back stronger and faster should disaster strike in your area.”

NOAA will issue an updated outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season in early August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.

On This Date 42 Years Ago

| 6:32 am May 27, 2015

On Sunday night, May 27, 1973, I saw serious tornado damage for the first time in my life, and it changed my life. The sights and sounds are still fresh in my mind; almost like it happened yesterday.

I was wrapping up my junior year at Tuscaloosa High School, and on that Sunday night we received a call for help from our friends in Bibb County. A tornado had gone right through the center of Brent, and amateur radio operators from Tuscaloosa were needed to establish communication with relief agencies in Birmingham and other places. Remember, there were no cell phones in 1973, and this was an urgent need. I arrived with a group from Tuscaloosa within one hour of the tornado, and we were all stunned at what we saw. Eerie darkness, an odd odor (many people that have experienced call it the “smell of death”), roads blocked by trees, and debris everywhere. I wound up coming back the next morning, and stayed in Centreville (adjacent to Brent) handling communication from a church.

Down in Brent, a total of 5 people died in the storm, including Andrew Mitchell, who was attending evening worship services at the Brent Baptist Church, which was destroyed. Many more were injured, and town was just about wiped out by the EF-4 twister. That was actually just a segment of the damage; the tornado first touched down just northeast of Demopolis, and went through Greensboro, where one person was killed and 72 injured. It continued northeast, and took out the old National Weather Service radar site on Alabama Highway 25 before striking downtown Brent. The crew at the radar site had to take cover in the ditch across the street.

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From Brent, the path continued near Montevallo and Childersburg, before it finally lifted on the western slope of Mount Cheaha in East Alabama. A total of 216 buildings were destroyed, 570 buildings were damaged, 97 mobile homes were destroyed, and 45 businesses were damaged or destroyed. More than 12,000 acres of timber was destroyed. It was a storm I will never forget, even though it happened 42 years ago.

We should note an EF-3 tornado that same day impacted a Tarrant-Center Point-Springville-St Clair Springs-Ashville-Gadsden path. Heavy damage occurred in Center Point where 32 homes and 48 mobile homes were destroyed. Over 300 homes were damaged. One person was killed by that storm.

This came at the tail end of the spring tornado season; a reminder we can have a strong/violent tornado in late May in Alabama.

This great site from John Brasher has more details about the situation in Brent.

Showers/Storms Develop Later Today

| 6:11 am May 27, 2015

AT DAYBREAK: It is a quiet late May morning across the great state of Alabama; nothing on radar… the sky is mostly cloudy, and temperatures are mostly in the 65 to 70 degree range. The high resolution HRRR model suggests the best chance of rain today will come this afternoon with a band of showers and storms passing through.

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SPC has all of the state in a “marginal” risk of severe weather today… a few of the afternoon storms could produce gusty winds and brief heavy rain, but organized severe weather isn’t likely.

TOMORROW/FRIDAY: Showers and storms remain possible, but they should be more scattered in nature, and mostly during the afternoon and evening hours. Otherwise, a mix of sun and clouds both days with a high up in the low to mid 80s.

THE WEEKEND: No real change… a moist airmass stays in place, but not much dynamic forcing for rain. So, we will deal with “scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms Saturday and Sunday with a partly sunny sky both days. Highs will be in the mid 80s, right at average levels for the end of May in Alabama.

NEXT WEEK: Monday marks the beginning of meteorological summer, and is also the first day of the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season. Looks like the weather will be very routine for the week with warm, humid weather continuing along with some risk of scattered showers and storms on a daily basis. See the Weather Xtreme video for maps, graphics, and more details.

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AT THE BEACH: About 6 to 8 hours of sunshine today with a passing shower or storm possible from Panama City west to Gulf Shores. Then, 7 to 9 hours of sun daily tomorrow through the weekend with widely scattered showers and storms. Highs on the immediate coast will remain in the low 80s, and the sea water temperature early this morning at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is 78 degrees.

COLLEGE SOFTBALL WORLD SERIES: We have Alabama and Auburn playing in Oklahoma City in the tournament that begins tomorrow; if you are headed that way understand showers and storms are possible on a daily basis, and rain delays are certainly possible, if not likely. The weather will be mostly rain-free by Sunday, however. Highs will be mostly in the mid to upper 70s.

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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I will be speaking at UAB’s Deep South Center for Occupational Health & Safety this morning, and at Hueytown Baptist Church tonight between newscasts. Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 4:00 this afternoon… enjoy the day!

Unsettled Weather Continues Tomorrow

| 3:25 pm May 26, 2015

RADAR CHECK: Some light rain lingers over East Alabama this afternoon, but the stronger storms are now over Georgia. The sky is mostly cloudy, and temperatures are mostly in the mid to upper 70s.

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TOMORROW: Showers and storms remain possible, but it won’t rain all day, and the sun could peek out at times. We note SPC has much of the state in a “marginal” severe weather threat, but like today the overall chance of severe storms looks small. We should rise into the low 80s tomorrow afternoon.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: Showers become fewer in number and more scattered… and mostly during the afternoon and evening hours. Otherwise, a mix of sun and clouds both days with a high in the low to mid 80s.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Very routine weather for late May; partly sunny, warm, and humid days with the risk of “scattered, mostly afternoon and evening” showers and thunderstorms. Chance of any one spot getting wet each day is about one in four, and highs will be in the mid 80s, right at seasonal levels. And, we stay in that pattern into the first few days of June.

AT THE BEACH: We project about 6 to 8 hours of sunshine each day tomorrow through the weekend, with the daily risk of scattered showers and thunderstorms (very routine for summer). Highs will remain in the low 80s on the immediate coast; the sea water temperature early this morning at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is 79 degrees.

If you missed it, a waterspout developed just off the Alabama Gulf Coast this morning around 8:15… this photo is from @yankeemikep

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WOMEN’S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES: Both Auburn and Alabama are playing in Oklahoma City later this week and over the weekend; showers and thunderstorms are likely on a daily basis Thursday through Saturday, so expect rain delays. Showers thin out a bit Sunday; highs will be in the 77-81 degree range most days. Some flooding issues are not out of the question since the soil there is totally saturated.

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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Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow…

More Rain/Storms For Alabama Today

| 6:16 am May 26, 2015

RADAR CHECK: The band of severe storms that brought serious flooding and some wind damage to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana last night, as expected, has been steadily weakening early this morning, and is entering West Alabama as I write this around sunrise.

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We will forecast a good chance of rain and thunderstorms for all of Alabama again today, and we remain unimpressed with the severe weather threat. SPC has dropped the “slight risk” for our state, and we are now just in a “marginal risk” through tonight. Wind fields are weak, and overall severe weather parameters are low. But, a few strong storms are possible later with gusty winds and heavy rain.

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Rain tapers off from west to east this afternoon; many communities won’t get out of the 70s again today because of clouds and rain.

TOMORROW: Another fairly wet day with a deep moisture axis in place; we expect scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms with a high in the low 80s. SPC has a “marginal” risk of severe weather in place for much of Alabama.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: Showers and storms become more scattered in nature, and will happen mostly during the afternoon and evening hours as the air aloft become warmer. Expect a mix of sun and clouds both days with a high in the low to mid 80s.

THE WEEKEND: Not much change. Partly sunny, warm, and humid Saturday and Sunday with the usual risk of “scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms”. Highs over the weekend will be generally in the 83 to 86 degree range, right at seasonal levels for late May in Alabama.

And, no real change is expected into early next week as June begins. See the Weather Xtreme video for maps, graphics, and more details.

AT THE BEACH: Occasionally cloudy today from Panama City over to Gulf Shores with a few showers and storms likely, then about 6 to 8 hours of sunshine each day tomorrow through the weekend, with the daily risk of scattered showers and thunderstorms (very routine for summer). Highs will remain in the low 80s on the immediate coast; the sea water temperature early this morning at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is 79 degrees.

WOMEN’S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES: Both Auburn and Alabama are playing in Oklahoma City later this week and over the weekend; showers and thunderstorms are likely on a daily basis Thursday through Saturday, so expect rain delays. Showers thin out a bit Sunday; highs will be in the 77-81 degree range most days. Some flooding issues are not out of the question since the soil there is totally saturated.

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 as we remember J.B. Elliott, the great American weather legend that passed away earlier this month.

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

Occasional Showers/Storms

| 3:46 pm May 25, 2015

**No afternoon Weather Xtreme video today; we will resume the “two a day” schedule tomorrow**

RADAR CHECK: The stronger storms have shifted into East Alabama this afternoon…

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Storms in East Alabama are not severe, but they are producing a good bit of lighting and heavy rain as they move east. A few passing showers and storms remain possible through the night across our state as moist air stays in place.

TOMORROW: SPC maintains the standard “slight risk” of severe weather for a decent part of North and Central Alabama, with a “marginal risk” all the way down to the coast…

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It remains to be seen if some of the high surface based instability forecasts can be reached; clouds could very well be locked in place much of the day, limiting the buoyancy of the atmosphere. Wind fields are not especially strong, so for the moment we remain rather unimpressed with the overall severe weather threat tomorrow, but if the sun breaks out during the morning, things could get active during the afternoon and evening hours. The rain tomorrow would be heavy at times, and some localized flash flooding issues are certainly possible.

WEDNESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY: While showers and storms remain possible on these three days, they should be more scattered in nature, and mostly during the afternoon and evening hours. The sun will break out at times, and the high will be in the mid 80s.

THE WEEKEND: Pretty much the same story for Saturday and Sunday… a mix of sun and clouds both days with the risk of scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. Afternoon highs will remain mostly in the mid 80s. Same setup for early next week.

GULF COAST WEATHER: About 3 to 5 hours of sunshine tomorrow with a few passing showers and storms likely from Panama City west to Gulf Shores, but then 7 to 9 hours of sunshine daily from Wednesday through the weekend with only widely scattered showers and thunderstorms each day. Highs will remain in the low 80s, and sea water temperatures are also generally in the low 80s.

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.

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Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow….