It has been a beautiful day across the state of Alabama. High clouds that gave the sky sort of an opaque look this morning moved out leaving mostly blue skies and scattered stratocumulus clouds. Some pretty cirrostratus clouds gave the high sky a bit of character at late afternoon. The layer of cirrostratus clouds produced beautiful sun dogs just after 5 p.m. The moisture up at high altitude that produced the cirrostratus clouds also produced pretty contrails.
Ample sunshine of the strong late winter variety pushed the mercury to 67F at Anniston and 68F at Birmingham according to the hourly obs. Tuscaloosa did reach 70F at 3 p.m.
Clouds should thicken overnight with lows dropping into the middle 40s over the northern tier of counties in places like Hamilton. Cullman and Oneonta. Upper 40s will be common across the rest of the area. There could be a little patchy fog in areas that are clear this evening.
It looks like Sunday will be dry and partly sunny. There have been hints from one of our mesoscale models that there could be a few sprinkles tomorrow, but another mesoscale model keeps us dry. Look for highs in the upper 60s to near 70F.
On this date in 1998, three days of heavy rain sent floodwaters from Beaver Dam Creek churning through the small South Alabama town of Elba as a levee gave way.
2,000 of the town’s 4,000 residents had to evacuate as the downtown area was under 6 feet of water.
Very cold weather would follow the flooding just three days later with temperatures in the area dropping into the middle 20s.
Five people died across South Alabama from the flooding.
It was the third flood in the small town in 8 years. In 1990, the town was inundated when a levee on the Pea River broke, with only rooftops poking through a sea of floodwaters. The Corps of Engineers reinforced that levee after the 1990 flood.
The 1998 flood happened suddenly with little warning, so even though the flood crest was less than during the 1990 flood, the 1998 flood caused more damage. With more warning in the 1990 flood, people had time to move their belongings to higher ground.
Of course, Elba was certainly no stranger to floods. In 1865, a flood shortly after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln destroyed the town. On March 15, 1929, the Pea River crested at 43.5 feet. Airplanes had to be employed to drop supplies to the marooned town. Other floods occurred in 1938, 1959 and 1975.
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A thin line of storms over Central Mississippi has triggered a couple of severe thunderstorm warnings.
Winds gusted to 63 mph at the Jackson Airport as these storms passed.
No change in thinking overnight. There is an outside chance that freezing rain will impact parts of Lamar, Fayette and Walker Counties, and a better chance that it will impact parts of Marion and Winston Counties between 4 and 9 a.m. Parts of North Alabama, including Franklin, Colbert, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison and Jackson Counties share the same threat.
The evening run of the NAM model doesn’t make the thinking change at all.
Here are a couple of graphics I wanted to share.
This is the 4km NAM simulated radar at 3 a.m. CST:
You can see some freezing rain over the northwestern counties of the state, including the northwestern part of Marion County. This bears out the forecast for freezing rain as colder air moves into that part of the state.
An hour later you can see some freezing rain over northern Winston County into Lawrence County.
Here are the temperatures at that time. You can see the cold front clearly in the I-59 corridor.
The 4km NAM’s accumulated precipitation by type:
Of course, this shows little freezing or frozen precip in Lamar Fayette and WAlker COunties, which are in the winter weather advisory, but not so fast.
Here is the latest RPM model output, which still shows more freezing rain a little further south, over the rest of the advisory area:
It is hard to believe that we are even having this conversation with a p.m. temperature of 67F at BHM.
2 LATE NOTES FROM TENNESSEE
…Ice is starting to accumulate in the Nashville area.
…Serious icing is occurring in western Tennessee. Recent reports include limbs cracking in Millington, serious road problems in Tipton County with 0.50 inches of ice accumulation and lots of reports of several inches of sleet.
…Sleet mixing with rain, thunder and lightning. Ice accumulating on tree limbs now. North Jackson near I-40 exit 83.
I don’t have to remind you that our dynamic storm system has a warm sector, given the highs in the 70s across Alabama. It was 76F in Birmingham, 77F in Tuscaloosa and 79F in Montgomery.
The surface low tonight is over southern Arkansas as you can see in the bottom left panel of the graphic.
A line of thunderstorms has developed over western Louisiana and southern Arkansas. The SPC has mentioned a 20% chance that they might have to issue a severe thunderstorm watch ahead of it. (See the large panel on the graphic.) Instability values are low, but there wind fields are strong, so there may be a few damaging winds tonight.
You can see the upper trough over the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma in the top left penl, with shows jet stream level winds. In that same panel, you can see the associated wind maximum that is helping to unfortunately increase lift over the precipitation area behind the cold front.
Lightning is common all the way into western Tennessee. Once again, we have thundersleet and freezing rain with thunder.
We will be watching the model data that is satrting to come in and will be updating our forecast. We will have additional information here on the blog shortly for North and Central Alabama.
A MAJOR WINTER STORM WILL IMPACT MUCH OF THE UNITED STATES INCLUDING THE MID-SOUTH TONIGHT AND MONDAY
The NWS in Birmingham was posted a freezing rain advisory for the northwestern parts of Central Alabama from 4-9 a.m. tomorrow morning for a glaze of ice that could accumulate from light freezing rain and freezing drizzle early tomorrow morning. The advisory includes Marion, Winston, Walker, Fayette and Lamar Counties.
For areas north of this, the National Weather Service in Huntsville has posted a winter weather advisory for Colbert, Lauderale, Franklin, Lawrence and Limestone Counties for early tomorrow morning.
Early this afternoon, the NWS Huntsville added Madison and Jackson Counties to the winter weather advisory for the Tennessee Valley.
Here is the worst ice accumulation through midnight tonight:
Here is a rundown of information from National Weather Service offices to our north and west. We will keep this running blog post updated through the evening hours.
…6:38: Friend of the WeatherBrains show, Eric Proseus reports 1.79″ of rain in the CoCoRaHS gauge at 3N Bartlett as of 5 mins ago. 33.0 degrees and steady rain w/ lightning right now. Light icing on all exposed objects, under 0.10″.
…The northern part of the Delta could see 0.25-0.40 inches of ice, including Greenville and Greenwood.
…The southern part of the Delta, including Yazoo City, 0.1-0.2 inches of ice could accumulate.
…Up to an inch of snow possible over the northern part of the Delta in Mississippi.
…Freezing rain rates will be approaching 0.10-0.25″ per hour this evening over western Tennessee.
…1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of ice in the Memhis area (including the Mississippi suburbs) and two inches of snow.
…1-3 inches of snow expected across northwestern Tennessee.
…Up to four inches of snow across eastern Arakansas and southeastern Missouri.
…Rain starting to freeze on exposed surfaces around Jackson TN just before 6 p.m.
…1/4″ of ice and 1″ of sleet in Dyersburg.
…Winter storm warnings in effect through Monday morning for much of Middle Tennessee.
…One half to one inch of ice accumulation is expected in places like Clarksville and Waverly.
…1/4 to 1/2 inch from Waynesboro, to Columbia to Nashville.
…The current balloon release from Nashville shows a significant warm layer that is 8500 feet deep. The surface temperature is approaching freezing. This will lead to serious freezing rain.
…2-3 inches of snow is expected near the Kentucky border as the airmass cools further and the precip changes to all snow.
…Nashville is expecting an inch of snow.
…A winter weather advisory is in effect for places like Manchester, Cookeville and Crossville, where up to one quarter of an inch of ice accumulation is expected.
…Serious icing is expected tonight over Kentucky.
…Winter storm warnings are in effect for the entire state including ice storm warnings for the southwestern part of the state around Hopkinsville and Madisonville.
…Ice accumulations should reach one half inch in the ice storm warning area.
…Elsewhere one quarter of an inch of ice is likely.
…The freezing rain may turn to heavy sleet later this evening as temperatures drop well into the 20s.
NWS MORRISTOWN TN
…Significant icing in eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia
…1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice and 1-3 inches of snow across this region.
As we are traveling south from Nashville to Birmingham this afternoon, the vehicle’s thermometer has been clicking upward almost as fast as the odometer! We left Nashville at 37F but by US-64 near Pulaski, it was 49F. We are punching the core of the cold front! Within 8 miles, the temperature jumped 8 degrees! Within 10 miles, it had gone up 11F.
You can see the sunny conditions across much of Central Alabama on the visible satellite picture:
OPERATION WINTER WEATHER WATCH: Once again we are on Operation Winter Weather Watch here in the AlabamaWX Weather Center, seemingly for the umpteenth time this season. The good news is that significant problems are not expected in our state, but icing is possible across the northwestern parts of North Central Alabama, as well as Northwest and North Alabama late tonight and early Monday morning. We will be tracking the latest weather developments until the precipitation ends Monday morning.
DIFFERENT STORY: It is a different story to our north and northwest where winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings cover a wide area from the southern Plains through the Ohio and Tennessee River Valleys into the Mid Atlantic states and the Northeast U.S. through Monday. Throw in some wind chill warnings for places like Minnesota and you have a real mess.
Regional radars show the precipitation associated with the system with the wintry mix in white:
ALABAMA ADVISORIES: The NWS Birmingham has a freezing rain advisory posted for Marion, Winston, Walker, Fayette and Lamar Counties, generally north of a line from Vernon to Hubbertville to Manchester in Walker County. The NWS Huntsville has a winter weather advisory up for late tonight and Monday morning for Colbert, Lauderdale, Franklin, Lawrence and Limestone Counties. As the shallow cold air pushes into Alabama tonight, precipitation behind the front will freeze on contact with exposed surfaces in the advisory areas. There will be some sleet mixed in as well, especially the further northwest you go.
HARD TO IMAGINE: It’s hard to imagine that we could be talking about wintry weather after the Sunday afternoon we enjoyed across Central Alabama. Morning clouds northwest of I-59 burned off and the entire area enjoyed a good supply of sunshine pushing temperatures into the middle and upper 70s. At 3 p.m. along I-65 this afternoon, it was 78F in Montgomery, 74F in Birmingham, 72F at Huntsville, 39F at Columbia TN and 37F at the Nashville Airport, where snow had started.
Back on this date in 2012, Alabama was included in a Moderate Risk severe weather outlook from the Storm Prediction Center. Parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and southern Indiana were in a rare high risk, as JB noted in this morning post.
The risks were pretty spot on. Here are the severe weather reports from March 2nd.
Shortly after JB wrote that post, tornadoes were on the ground in North Alabama, doing damage.
Morning supercells spawned six tornadoes across Limestone and Madison Counties. One followed a similar path to one of the deadliest tornadoes on April 27, 2011. In the Huntsville area, two tornadoes, including an EF2 and an EF1, damaged or destroyed 200 homes, a maximum security state prison and a high school.
When the outbreak was over the next day, an outbreak across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys produced 70 tornadoes and and killed 41 people. Hardest hit was Kentucky, where 22 died. Thirteen died in Indiana, four in Ohio and one each in Alabama and Georgia.
The town of West Liberty, Kentucky, which was nearly destroyed. The town of Marysville, IN was completely destroyed and Henryville, IN, the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Harlan Sanders, was heavily damaged. The Henryville tornado was rated as an EF-4.