Bill Murray is the President of The Weather Factory. He is the site's official weather historian and a weekend forecaster. He also anchors the site's severe weather coverage. Bill Murray is the proud holder of National Weather Association Digital Seal #0001 @wxhistorian
From pine beetles to quesadillas, from Honda to Highlands and from Nike to concertinas, our friends at Alabama NewsCenter were busy this past week reporting good news.
A line of strong showers is dropping into Central Alabama late this afternoon.
It extends from northern Marion County into northern Winston to near Cullman, then into northern Blount County, and on to near Albertvlle and Fort Payne.
It has a history of producing strong wind gusts and even brought down some trees and power lines southeast of the City of Madison in Madison County, west of Huntsville.
Winds gusted to 40 mph at Huntsville International Airport and 30 mph at Decatur and Muscle Shoals.
Winds will gust in excess of 40 mph as this line drops south, especially over Blount and Etowah Counties.
The tops of the showers are under 20,000 feet, so no lightning. There just isn’t much instability, and dewpoints are only in the upper 40s and lower 50s.
The line will reach Birmingham a little after 7. Gadsden should see the activity before 615 p.m. Anniston around 645 pm.
Well, they have avoided the rain successfully throughout the race at Talladega today. Hopefully, the race will be finished before it arrives.
Right now, there is less than 50 laps to go and the nearest shower looks like it will miss the track. Heavy will not arrive until after 4 30 p.m. unless there is new development.
THE ALABAMA WEATHER SITUATION
A large area of showers and thunderstorms is pushing east and northeast across areas west of I-65 this afternoon. The strongest storms are:
…over the intersection of Fayette, Marion, Winston Counties near Nauvoo.
…over Bibb, southern Tuscaloosa, western Chilton and Autauga Counties.
In the Birmingham area, a strong storm is approaching Lake View, and another is west of Alabaster. The Metro will experience lots of lightning and some heavy rain and gusty winds
A new storm is forming on the Talladega/Shelby County line between Columbiana and Sylacauga.
The fifth month of the year is one of my favorites in Central Alabama. We see some of the finest weather of the year, with runs of fine, warm and sunshine filled days. It reminds me a lot of October, its closest cousin, but generally warmer and somewhat stormier. The average percentage of possible sunshine is 66 percent, equal to October, which is the other sunniest month of the year.
The average high and low for the month in Birmingham is 81.5F and 59.7F respectively. At the start of the month, the average high is 78F, but it rises to 85F by the end of the month. Overnight lows really warm, rising from 55F on May 1st to 64F on the 31st. The coldest May reading ever in the Magic City is 36F on May 4, 1971. The warmest reading ever in May was 99F on May 28, 1962 and May 29, 1898. It generally reaches 90F or warmer 1.9 days in the month.
Heating degree days are nearly zero in May, but cooling degree days start to really rise as we head toward the unrelenting heat of summer.
May used to be a drier month than April. Until 2003 that is. 5.71 inches of rain fell on the 7th that month, which skewed the average higher. The average May rainfall at the Birmingham Airport jumped from 4.4 inches to 4.99 inches because of that single event. A tremendous flash flooding event occurred across Central Alabama that day, with higher amounts reported just northeast of the Airport. 10.50 inches of rain fell on Edwards Lake Road and JB Elliott recorded 9.82 inches just northeast of Trussville. Not surprisingly, May 2003 went on to become the wettest fifth month with 17.22 inches of rain. The driest May on record occurred in 2000, when 0.88 inches fell.
It usually rains on 9.1 days on average, and rains more than 1 inch on 1.4 days. Thunderstorms occur on 9 days. The average dewpoint is starting to climb, rising from 49F in April to 58F in May.
An area of rain and storms is pushing northeastward across East Central Mississippi early this afternoon. Severe thunderstorm warnings are in effect for Lowndes, Noxubee, Oktibbeha and Winston Counties in eastern Mississippi. No reports of damage so far, and the NWS Birmingham is not planning on issuing severe thunderstorm warnings unless they intensify.
Tons of lightning in the storms between Columbus MS and Brooksville down to Scooba.
There is a threat for severe thunderstorms with winds to 60 mph with storms today. The threat of tornadoes is very very small, if not zero.
They will push into Alabama’s northern Pickens and Lamar Counties by 1 p.m. There are already storms over southern Lamar County around Millport and Kennedy.
In the Birmingham Metro, storms are forming from Homewood to Hoover and back to Bessemer. Just saw the first lightning stroke near Vestavia.
There is a storm northwest of Oxford. This storm brought a shower to the Talladega Superspeedway right befor ethe green flag at the Geico 500.
Showers along highway 280 in northern Shelby County may threaten the track within the hour.
Trees have been reported down in Sumter County because of this event that are not associated with thunderstorms, but with a wake low.
Tonight’s marginal and slight severe weather threat is over for Central Alabama as the area of thunderstorms has weakened as it lifted northeast into our part of the state.
Right behind it, what appears to be a wake low has developed. This feature is causing winds to gust to nearly 30 mph in spots.
Winds gusted to 28mph at Tuscaloosa and Birmingham just before 8 p.m.
Areas along and south of I-59 will see the best chance of the gusty winds.
Wake lows are caused by sinking air which descends in the wake of the weakening of a complex of storms. They often cause heat bursts in the Plains, which are characterized by strong winds, rapid drops in dewpoints and substantial rises in temperatures.
Nothing like that here tonight, but some gusty winds.
It looks like rain will be limited to areas south of areas from Selma to Montgomery.
It has been a muggy and warm spring afternoon across North and Central Alabama. Skies have been partly to mostly cloudy, with the most sunshine over East Central Alabama,
The airmass is slightly to moderately unstable with CAPE values running some 1,000-2,000 joules/kg, except over East Central Alabama, where values are over 2,000 joules. There are some values over 3,000 joules in places like Talladega, Wedowee, Alex City and Rockford.
So the atmosphere is primed for storms and they have formed over North Alabama, down through East Central Alabama into much of Georgia. Some are starting to percolate in northeastern Mississippi as well.
There actually was a tornado warning for Limestone and Madison counties in North Alabama into Lincoln County, Tennessee, but the warning has been canceled. The tornadic thunderstorm has moved from near Athens to Elkmont and will soon exit the state. It still has a severe thunderstorm warning on it. That storm has showed signs of rotation but no reports of tornadoes or damage so far.
The atmosphere is not really conducive for tornadoes across Alabama, with low 0-1 km helicity values. But with spring storms in Alabama we always say to expect the unexpected.
To the southwest, there is a big MCS (mesoscale convective system) moving into southwestern Alabama from southeastern Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana. The storms have been severe in the New Orleans area. There is currently a severe thunderstorm warning for Kemper County in eastern Mississippi, where Meridian is located. This storm will eventually affect Sumter County.
The whole MCS will lift northeastward into West Central Alabama, reaching Tuscaloosa between 6-7 p.m. and Birmingham by 7-8 p.m. But it will be weakening as it goes, leaving the better shear over Mississippi. The SPC has West Central and Southwest Alabama outlooked for a slight risk of severe weather, meaning scattered severe storms possible. The severe weather will be short lived and not widespread. Further east, most of the rest of the state is in a marginal risk outlook, meaning isolated severe storms are possible. There could be a few reports of damaging winds and hail, with the best chance over areas from Pickens down through Sumter and Hale Counties.
There is a severe thunderstorm watch in effect for coastal Mississippi and SE Louisiana. A new watch could be issued into Coastal Alabama and Northwest Florida.
We are sort of locked into this pattern through Monday it seems, when a cold front will finally push through the area, ending the rain. But expect more showers and storms Sunday and Monday. It looks like most of tomorrow’ rain may come in the morning for Central Alabama, hopefully leaving room for a decent afternoon.
Great shot of skies over Downtown Birmingham from @zacksyl.
Trees are reported down in Concord in western Jefferson County.
Trees are reported down over the city of Jasper. Traffic lights are out and some streets are closed due to downed power lines.
Golfball sized hail was reported earlier in Tuscaloosa County near Lake Tuscaloosa. Thathail core has diminsihed some, but hail to 1 inch is likely still into the Lake View and North Johns areas of eastern Tuscaloosa and western Jefferson County.
The lightning with these storms is very intense. Be in safe shelter as they approach.
Storms are over Northwest Alabama this afternoon, extending from western Winston County near Double Springs, back through much of Marion County, including Hamilton, down south through much of Lamar County.
A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for Monroe County MS. It produced golfball sized hail at the radar site north of Columbus. This storm will move into Lamar County, affecting Vernon and Millport.
The storms have weakened a bit as the atmosphere over Alabama is not as conducive for severe weather. There will be gusty winds and hail, but severe reports should be limited over the next few hours.
Lightning will be a real problem through the evening though. Be aware of the weather if you will be out and about on this spring Friday evening.
A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Lamar County in West Alabama.
A dangerous storm with a high potential for damaging winds and hail extends from Smithville to Amory to Aberdeen in eastern Mississippi.
There has been indications of a tornado near Amory. Damaging winds are approaching the Columbus MS radar site which is near Quincy. Trees were reported down in Wren, and there was a pronounced wall cloud. This is west of Amory.
Be in a safe place as these dangerous storms approach.