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Central Alabama 7 Day Forecast

Bill Murray

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Severe Weather Threat Winding Down

| 2:38 pm November 23, 2014
Click image to enlarge..

Click image to enlarge..

The rain has ended at the Birmingham Airport and it appears that we will fall just short of one inch of rain today. 0.89 inches had fallen through 2:12 p.m Still, we are grateful for the beneficial rains and even more grateful that severe weather has not been widespread across the state.

It does appear that a tornado may have touched down in eastern Barbour County. A Tornado Debris Signature was evident on radar as the storm prepared to move into Georgia. Trees were reported down at Lakepoint Resort near Eufaula.

A tornado watch remains in effect for Southeast Alabama, but it will be cancelled for the Alabama counties shortly since the activity is now mostly into Georgia.

To the north, just a steady rain as the line passes. Not even any lightning over Northeast Alabama, as the airmass is more stable thanks to the persistent easterly wedge that prevailed yesterday.

As predicted, some clearing is evident on visible satellite imagery now over West Central Alabama. You will see some breaks in the clouds in the Birmingham Metro before sunset.

Rain/Storms Moving Northeastward

| 1:19 pm November 23, 2014

Well, as advertised rain and thunderstorms are pushing northeastward across much of Alabama on this Saturday afternoon.

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Rain is overspreading the Birmingham Metro at this hour. But the storms are not severe.

So far there have been a couple of severe thunderstorm warnings in South Alabama and the NWS in Birmingham had to issue a tornado warning based on radar rotation for Barbour, Bullock and Pike Counties. No touchdown was reported and no tornado debris signature appeared on radar.

There is a tornado watch over Southeast Alabama where the best combination of instability and wind shear is present producing a threat for tornadoes.

Over Central Alabama, it is mainly just rain now with very little thunder. The support for the widespread rain (an upper level disturbance) is moving quickly northeast and is outrunning the instability that is lagging behind a bit. That’s good news, cause it means we may get out of this without any severe weather across Central Alabama.

To the south, the risk continues for areas south of a line from Atmore to Thomaston to Phenix City.

Watching Band of Storms Forming Over West Alabama

| 11:32 am November 23, 2014

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Showers and embedded thunderstorms are fairly widespread across North Central and East Central Alabama late this morning.

A band of storms over Southwest and South Alabama is the main concern for Central Alabama though as we head toward the afternoon hours.

That band extends from near Macon, MS to near Brewton in South Alabama. It appears to be a dryline feature and will serve to focus convection as it lifts northward. It should reach Tuscaloosa between 12:15-12:45 and Birmingham between 12:45 and 1:15.

The good news is that there is little if any surface based instability to provide fuel for the storms. But wind fields are strong, and any updrafts that do become surface based will have the potential to produce damaging winds. Further southeast, over Southeast Alabama into southwestern Georgia, there is more instability and conditions are favorable for a few tornadoes. The SPC is considering issuing a tornado watch for those areas.

The band of storms will continue to lift northward. Some of the storms might become severe, but we don’t expect many warnings across Central Alabama this afternoon. We will be watching conditions closely though in case they change.

Storms Lifting into Birmingham Metro

| 10:36 am November 23, 2014

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Thunderstorms over Bibb and western Chilton County are lifting north northeastward toward the Birmingham Metro at this hour. They will affect Shelby County between 10:40 – 11 a.m. and then move across Jefferson County between 11 – 11:45 a.m.

These storms are elevated, meaning their instability source is above the surface. That makes it hard for these storms to produce severe weather. But they will produce loud booming thunder that will shake the windows and very heavy rain as well as gusty winds.

Other storms are over Fayette County and over East Alabama over parts of Randolph, Tallapoosa, Lee and Chambers Counties.

There is a tremendous amount of wind shear over the area, but no surface based instability. The warm front, marking the edge of that instability is pushing northward through South Alabama It is north of Evergreen now, as evidenced by the 71F degree dewpoint there.

The new SPC Day One Outlook is out. It is basically unchanged with the slight risk in Alabama trimmed down slightly on its northern and western borders.

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Quick Look at Alabama Weather Situation – 9:45 a.m.

| 9:45 am November 23, 2014

Here is a quick look at the Alabama Weather Situation on this Sunday morning.

A dynamic weather system is affecting the Deep South and will bring widespread rain and thunderstorms to Alabama today, including a severe weather threat for parts of the area.

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The upper level disturbance responsible for the active weather is west of Vicksburg MS this morning. You can clearly see it in the water vapor image in the lower left corner of the graphic. Click the graphic to enlarge it. I have shown the winds at 18,000 feet on that smaller panel as well. They are screaming at 70-90 knots over southern Mississippi and southern Louisiana.

The top left panel shows the surface low over western Louisiana with a warm front stretched along the Gulf Coast. It is onshore in South Alabama now, a little further north than the graphic indicates. It will continue to push north all day. The low will track northeast along with the upper level disturbance.

Showers and storms were continuing over southern Mississippi and were breaking out over South Alabama. These storms will spread north through the day. They will have lots of heavy rain and lightning and gusty winds. A few of them could become severe with damaging winds the main threat.

Here is the radar at 9:45. You can see lots of lightning already with these storms that are ahead of the warm front.

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There is a small chance of a tornado south of a line from Jackson AL to Camden to Wetumpka to Lafayette. This line is the northward extent of the SPC Day One Severe Weather Outlook “slight” risk area, their standard severe weather forecast category. The best chance of a tornado is further southeast over Southeast Alabama, southwestern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. Dothan is in this “enhanced” risk category, which is between slight and moderate in the SPC nomenclature.

Further north, for places like Demopolis, Tuscaloosa, Jasper, Birmingham, Clanton, Cullman, Talladega, Anniston and Gadsden, the storms will be loud with lots of lightning and thunder, heavy rain and gusty winds and there is chance a few of them could become severe with damaging winds being the main threat, but that chance is small. Can’t rule out a rogue tornado warning during the day in these areas though since helicity values showing low level spin in the atmosphere will be high by early afternoon across much of Central Alabama. But the storms don’t look like they will have much to work with in the way of instability, which makes severe weather way less likely.

We will track the warm front all day to see it’s progress. Storms along the warm front and any that develop behind it will have the best chances to become severe.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE WEATHER TODAY: Have a reliable source for receiving warnings, like a Weatheradio or Smartphone app like MyWARN. Review your personal severe weather safety rules. There is a link at the top of the blog to a compendium of safety rules. Know where you will go quickly in case a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued.

We will have frequent updates throughout the day on the blog.

The November 1950 Cold Wave

| 9:00 am November 23, 2014

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Alabamians paid little attention to the weather forecast on Thanksgiving morning, November 23, 1950. The Birmingham News carried a lead article about the many blessings of the day, including bountiful food, talking about the day’s candied yams, crisp white celery, plump olives and a golden brown roasted turkey. Headlines told of a Thanksgiving Eve crash between two Long Island Railroad trains in New York City that killed 76 people. There were hopes that the Korean War might be ending, bolstered by hints that China might be willing to sit down for peace talks. Over 36,000 people made their way to Legion Field for the annual Crippled Children’s Classic at Legion Field. The game featured the Phillips Red Raiders and Woodlawn Colonels. It would raise $95,000 for the new Crippled Children’s Hospital. As the game kicked off at 2 p.m., the temperature at the Birmingham Airport was a balmy 70 degrees.

The fine holiday weather belied the fact that a major cold wave was overspreading the U.S. east of the Rockies. Birmingham’s official weatherman, Charles Bradley, warned that the mild afternoon and nice weather was going to be followed by a quick turn to winter. The afternoon highs near 70 would be replaced with overnight lows in the 30s. Highs the following day would remain steady or fall. Fans in shirt sleeves at Legion Field got a rude awakening when the temperature fell into the 50s by the fourth quarter of a 20-0 Phillips victory. By late evening, readings were in the lower 40s with a north wind averaging over 20 mph. To the north, it was getting interesting. It was 18F in Nashville with heavy snow. It was 25F in Memphis with moderate snow and a north wind averaging over 30 mph. The snow was reaching Northwest Alabama.

By 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning, it was down to 32F at Birmingham with snow. Four inches of snow was on the ground at Tuscumbia. An inch was on the ground in the Magic City. Roads were hazardous all over North Alabama. Dozens of accidents were being reported. By late morning, US-31 was impassable as far south as Clanton. By 10:30 a.m., the mercury had plummeted further, to 21F at the Birmingham Airport.

The Alabama Crimson Tide football team boarded a charter plane at the Birmingham Airport, bound for Jacksonville and a Saturday tilt with Florida. With two losses, Alabama needed a victory to seal a major bowl bid. Tennessee was already paired with Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Kentucky coach Paul Bryant was preparing his Wildcats for a Sugar Bowl date with Oklahoma in New Orleans. The Birmingham News carried rumors that the Bear might be nosing around for a job in Texas, while mentioning that Alabama was his alma mater.

In his afternoon forecast, the weatherman was calling for an overnight low between 12-15F. Good thing for Mr. Bradley that the three degree guarantee had not been invented, because with screaming cold air advection, the temperature would already be at 15 by midnight, on the way to a low of 5F. It is the coldest November reading ever in Birmingham. The second coldest November reading ever is 13F, underscoring the significance of the record. Fresh snow would fall across the northern half of the state on Saturday as the Great Appalachian Storm spun up over Ohio.

JB would call it a cold wave. I call it just another story from the pages of this week in weather history.

An Update on the Severe Weather Situation for Tomorrow

| 9:05 pm November 22, 2014

After a very nice late fall Saturday across Central Alabama today with highs in the upper 60s to near 70F and lots of sunshine, thin high clouds are overspreading the area this evening. The clouds are patchy, so you can still see some stars through them. Temperatures are still mild, running around 60F. But the air has a crisp feel to it with dewpoints still in the 40s.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

In fact, the dewpoint at Anniston is only 40F, while amazingly, the dewpoint at Atlanta is an incredible 28F. That’s really dry. The dewpoints are shown in the large graphic on the right side above.

The reason is that Alabama is still under the influence of an easterly wedge of drier air invading the state from the east thanks to high pressure off the Atlantic Coast, reinforcing the drier air. You can see the surface weatehr map in the bottom left of panel of the graphic.

The wedge will be a limiting factor in our unfolding severe weather threat for tomorrow, at least for Central Alabama.

First, let me say there is no threat for severe weather tonight across Central Alabama. The main threat will come between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday.

A very strong upper level disturbance is approaching Dallas tonight. That will be our primary weathermaker over the next 36 hours.

Can’t rule out patches of light rain or showers after midnight tonight through the morning hours across Central Alabama. There could be an isolated heavy shower or even a storm during the morning hours ahead of the main area of rain and storms, but this activity will be isolated.

Widespread showers and storms will enter Southwest Alabama Sunday morning and push northeast. Should reach the Birmingham area by early afternoon. These storms should be elevated, and not surface based, so their main impact will be very heavy rain and loud thunder. But, with a strong mid level wind maximum passing overhead, there could be some damaging wind reports. This will all be between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. from southwest to northeast.

The low level helicity will be maximized during the early afternoon, so it is good that there should not be much surface based instability.

The storms should weaken as they push deeper into the more stable air.

BOTTOM LINE: There is a severe weather threat generally south of a line from Reform to Tuscaloosa to Montevallo to Goodwater. The Storm Prediction Center severe weather outlook for Sunday is shown in the top left panel of the graphic above. The main threat will be damaging winds. To the north of the slight risk area defined by the SPC, the threat lessens the further north you go. But isolated storms are still possible during the afternoon hours in places like Jasper, Cullman, Birmingham, Pell City, Gadsden and Anniston.

There is a tornado threat closer to the coast and we can’t rule out an isolated tornado with the activity lifting north, so we will be watching.

LATE AFTERNOON INTO MONDAY: Some sunshine will break out during the late afternoon as sinking air behind the disturbance clear the sky. The air will actually become more unstable, but there shouldn’t be enough lift for storms to form. There could be a few late afternoon showers though. Sunday evening should be mainly dry. The main cold front will arrive early Monday morning, quickly pushing temperatures into the 50s for the day.

A 1957 Reminder About the Fall Tornado Season

| 10:00 am November 17, 2014

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November 17, 1957 was a Sunday. Newspaper headlines chronicled a deadly crash of the New york Central passenger train, The Chicagoan, in Michigan. The crash killed one and injured 32. Another train crash in France killed 28. Seventeen people, including fourteen children, died in a New York tenement fire. There was a lot of talk about defense spending in light of the space race that had exploded with the Russian launch of Sputnik. The prospect of atomic testing in space was causing a great deal of concern. A Christmas Seals cartoon of Santa on the front page warned there were only 31 shopping days left until Christmas.

As is usually the case on any Sunday in Alabama in the fall, the big news revolved around the world of college football. The front page of the Birmingham News heralded “API Takes Dogs” after Auburn had beaten Georgia 6-0. API stood for Alabama Polytechnic Institute. The name was officially changed in 1960 to Auburn University. The headline also hinted that Auburn might end up with the number one ranking in the polls, but Michigan State catapulted to number one, passing the unbeaten, untied Tigers. Auburn would of course go on to the number one position in the AP Poll at the end of the year.

Also that Saturday, Oklahoma had seen its incredible 47 game unbeaten streak end at the hands of Notre Dame. It took a last second field goal for Georgia Tech to eek out a victory against upset minded Alabama. The News kept a close eye on what was going on at Texas A&M, where Bear Bryant was the coach of the 4th ranked Aggies.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

On that November Sunday, Alabama was in the first day of a two-day period of severe weather. That morning, strong subtropical high pressure was centered near Key West. The Gulf of Mexico was open for business as the high pumped moisture into the Deep South on southerly winds. A powerful upper level trough extended from the northern Rockies to the Southwest. That morning, a surface low pressure system was moving northeast into northwestern Arkansas, dragging a cold front back into Texas.

Just after noon, tornadoes started touching down in eastern Mississippi. Two people were killed by a strong tornado that cut a 15 miles path from near Macon. Mississippi State Police were tracking the tornadoes and relayed reports ahead to Alabama.

A little after 3 p.m., a violent tornado touched down 6 miles northwest of Jasper near the community of Red Mil Cross Roads. Mr. and Mrs. Wilford Bradford had just built a new home there. The ranch home was blown 150 feet and smashed to bits. The couple and their 14 year old daughter were killed. One other person was killed along the short 5 mile path that carried it near Saragossa and Manchester.

An amateur photographer snapped a dramatic picture of the tornado that ran on front pages of newspapers all over the country, including the one on the front page of The Birmingham News the next day

The official forecast from the U.S. Weather Bureau called for cloudy, windy and warm weather for Monday the 18th as Alabama would remain in grips of a battle between the subtropical high and the encroaching upper trough. More about the events of the 18th tomorrow.