The Internet is a great equalizer. Website and blogging platforms have given everyone a voice. Social media is a powerful megaphone that is accessible to anyone. But the explosion of information on the web has become a double edged sword. One recent example is the Boston Marathon bombing. Photos released on the Internet within hours of the bombing wrongly implicated innocent people and made the job of finding the real perpetrators difficult for investigators.
In no area has this double edged sword reared its ugly side more than in the dissemination of weather information. The general public now has access in real time to nearly every piece of weather information available to professional meteorologists. It has become readily apparent that the other side of the sword can be detrimental when weather information is shared irresponsibly. One of the most common forms this takes is when a single model solution is represented as an absolute forecast and shared and re-shared as such. With many different models and resolutions, you can find a solution for any solution you can imagine. When those model solutions are extreme, the social media universe can quickly catch fire with the information.
The result is that National Weather Service meteorologists and broadcasters find themselves increasingly spending their time to combat misleading or incorrectly interpreted or labeled information.
The National Weather Association, the leading organization for operational meteorologists, recognized the need o provide leadership in this area. Miles Muzio, the Chair of the Broadcast Meteorology Committee has championed the cause of a Seal of Approval for Digital Weathercasters.
The organization has a rich history of producing nearly one thousand Broadcaster Seals for TV Weathercasters. The NWA Broadcaster Seal of Approval is a trusted indicator of that the sealholder has passed a rigorous comprehensive examination and had his or her on air work evaluated by a group of experienced meteorologists.
The NWA approached the idea of a sister seal to the Broadcast Seal very deliberately, debating the merits, procedures, guidelines and ongoing monitoring of introducing such a program. All of the information received intense scrutiny from the National Weather Association Council.
This morning, at the 39th Annual Meeting of the National Weather Association, the Digital Seal program was laid out.
I am very thrilled and honored to be the holder of the very first National Weather Association Digital Weather Seal.
I am part of the “Pioneer 3″ as Miles calls the first three recipients, joining the heady company of Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gang and Mike Mogil of How the WeatherWorks. We all three passed the same rigorous exam that Broadcast Seal recipients must pass and had our work evaluated according to the Qualifications and Procedures developed by the Broadcast Meteorology Committee. The comprehensive test includes general meteorology, radar meteorology, satellite meteorology, synoptic meteorology, severe weather, climatology and technology/terminology.
We all will be re-certified every three years and our work will be constantly monitored to make sure that it upholds the values of this important distinction.
I will proudly serve as the Digital Seal Manager.
It was a an incredible moment for me this morning. I look forward to proudly displaying the NWA Digital Seal on Alabama WX. Thank you for the opportunity to share weather information with you, the greatest weather savvy audience on the planet, on a regular basis!
FAQ (PDF Format)
A flash flood watch went into effect at 7 p.m. tonight for much oft he northwestern part of Central Alabama, including Blount, Fayette, Lamar, Marion, Walker and Winston Counties.
The NWS has extended the area of Flash Flood Watch to include Autauga, Bibb, Chilton, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lowndes, Marengo, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega and Tuscaloosa Counties until 1 p.m. tomorrow.
Rainfall amounts approaching 2-4 inches have fallen from Winston down through Walker, southeastern Fayette and into Tuscaloosa Counties according to Doppler Radar.
As the storms continue east at about 30 mph, they will continue to dump torrential rains over the rest of Central Alabama tonight. It will only take about 2.5 inches of rain to cause flash flooding.
Strong thunderstorms are moving into the Birmingham Metro area now. There is no warning for Jefferson County at this time but a tornado watch remains in effect until midnight and the storms could become severe at any time.
In any case, they will produce winds of 50 mph or greater, torrential rain and lots of dangerous lightning.
They are now over western Jefferson County west of Bessemer and Birminghamport.
They will be in Bessemer a little after 10 p.m. and in downtown Birmingham, Homewood and Hoover between 10:15-10:30. Eastern and northern parts of Jefferson County will see them after 10:30.
Some counties are being trimmed from the tornado watch now:
The watch has been canceled for Greene, Sumter, Walker and Winston.
It continues for Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Dallas, Etowah, Hale, Jefferson, Lowndes, Marengo, Perry, Shelby, St. Clair and Tuscaloosa.
Our line of thunderstorms is approaching Jasper, Tuscaloosa and Livingston tonight. It is packing lots of lightning, strong gusty winds and torrential rains. The storms are not severe at this time but the potential is still there for them to produce damaging winds and even brief spin up tornadoes.
Additional storms are forming ahead of the main line over Tuscaloosa County as well as Jefferson and Shelby Counties. These are not severe at this time but could also become severe.
A tornado watch remains in effect for almost all of Central Alabama until midnight.
The Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper reports that there has been a fatality in Dora when a tree fell on a house from this afternoon’s activity.
There was also a fatality last night when a tree fell on a car in Ashdown AR.
Just underscores the fact that there is a very real threat from trees falling on homes and cars.
The line of intense storms is now entering Lamar and Pickens Counties. It is bowing out in that area, indicating a high probability of damaging winds.
It should reach the Tuscaloosa area by 7:30 p.m. and the Birmingham area between 8:15 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.
SEVERE WEATHER STILL LIKELY
Conditions are still very favorable for severe weather tonight across Central Alabama. A tornado watch is in effect until midnight.
Instabilities are running 500-1,000 j/kg over the northern half of the state, with values over 1,000 j/kg surging northward into Central Alabama. Lifted condensation levels are at 750m, which is prime for tornado development. And storm relative helicities in the lowest 1 km of the atmosphere are actually pretty high, running 20 m2/s2 in areas north of I-59.
So damaging wind will be the main threat, but an isolated tornado or two cannot be ruled out.
Pay attention to the weather overnight and review your safety rules.
3:05 p.m….Four trees down near Wilsonville in Shelby County.
3:40 p.m….Tree down in McCalla on Allison Drive. Another tree down on Connie Dr in McCalla also. Others down on Hwy 11 in Vance near KyKenKee Lumber Mill as well as Hwy 216 near Jim Walters at Co. Rd 59
Phone line across rd on Phyllis Dr. in Lake View…
Power out in Woodstock in Bibb County.
Tree struck by lightning and on fire in Duncanville
Power pole snapped off on Highway 78 in Pratt City.
Tree down on Tom Montgomery Road in Tuscaloosa. Tres also down on Bama Rock Garden Road near Coaling and Vance.
Winds gusted to 50 mph in Birminghamport (estimate).
3:00 p.m….Winds gusted to 50 mph at Calera.
3:05 p.m….Greenhouse destroyed near West Blocton.
The NWS has issued a tornado watch for a large part of Alabama.
Here are the tornado watches that are in effect right now:
It goes until midnight.
Here are the counties:
In Central Alabama…
Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Dallas, Etowah, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Marengo, Marion, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston.
In North Alabama…
Franklin, Lincoln, Moore [TN] and Colbert, Cullman, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall and Morgan.
A Monday night severe weather threat highlights Alabama’s weather on this mid-October Sunday.
YOUR SUNDAY MORNING WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MONTH OF MAY: Another springlike morning greeted the day across Central Alabama with a mix of clouds and sun and a few moderate showers splashing and dashing. Morning lows were uniform, with 66F at Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, 65F at Anniston and a muggy 68F at Calera. Dewpoints were in the middle and upper 60s, which is quite moist and feels humid, more like May than September. The warm and muggies will continue through the afternoon hours, with highs topping out in the middle 80s.
ON THE WEATHER MAPS: Looking to charts of the upper levels of the atmosphere, where our weather is created and shaped, we see a huge trough covering most of the United States. The Jetstream is roaring down the western side of the Rocky Mountains, diving toward Old Mexico and Texas. Following its lead, the mid-level flow is picking up moisture to our southwest and spitting disturbances our way here in the Deep South. At the surface, that frontal system that has been hanging around Central Alabama is lifting north this afternoon on the backs of southerly winds ahead of a developing surface low near the Texas/Louisiana border and that southwesterly flow aloft.
SHOWERS AND STORMS: Showers and storms formed this morning over North and North Central Alabama along the retreating frontal boundary, capitalizing on the warm/moist airmass and taking advantage of an approaching upper level disturbance in that upper flow. Some of them were producing very heavy rainfall, gusty winds and frequent lightning but they were not severe. Most of the storms this afternoon should be to the north, but we can’t rule out a few storms in the warm, moist southerly flow over Central Alabama. Also can’t rule out one or two of them briefly becoming severe, but the chance is relatively small. More showers and storms will form overnight as another disturbance swings across the area. They may be noisy, but shouldn’t be severe.
MAIN EVENT: It looks like the main event for Alabama will come tomorrow night into Tuesday as that strong upper level system pushes east, spinning up a decent surface low over Oklahoma. This surface low will track northeast into Missouri, a favorable position for severe weather in Alabama. A strong cold front should be approaching the Mississippi River by tomorrow evening, and showers and storms will break out in the strong southerly flow ahead of the low as the Gulf of Mexico opens for business. So expect a few showers and storms especially during the afternoon tomorrow across the area, increasing in coverage and intensity by 5-6 p.m. Severe weather will be possible with these storms that will continue into the night and be joined by an approaching squall line after midnight. That line of storms will push across the state tomorrow night. Storms will still be possible through the morning hours as the cold front will not make it to I-65 until noon Tuesday. Check your severe weather preparedness plans, make sure you have a reliable way to receive watches and warnings and stay abreast of the weather Monday afternoon evening and overnight.
BIG SEVERE WEATHER OUTBREAK: This is potentially a big severe weather outbreak for areas mainly to our west, including Memphis, St. Louis, Shreveport and Jackson. The significant severe weather risk will extend into western Alabama late tomorrow night diminishing a but as the activity works further into the state of Alabama during the overnight. Be prepared for damaging winds and even the possibility of a tornado or two.