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Author Archive: Bill Murray
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
By and by, we will find out whether the U.S. streak of no landfalling major hurricanes will remain intact. It was been 10 years 11 months and 2 days since a major hurricane hit the United States (Hurricane Wilma on October 24, 2005). That record obliterated the old record of eight years set in the 1860s. That’s 131 months 2 days. That’s 570 weeks. That’s an amazing 3,990 days.
DROUGHT BUSTER? Often, we look to dying tropical systems to spell the end of a southeastern drought. Let’s just hope it does come on the business end of a major hurricane.
MATTHEW THIS WEEK? The tropical wave that will likely become Matthew most likely is about 1350 miles east of the southern Windward Islands this afternoon. Low pressure should develop by Tuesday as the system approaches the southern Antilles. There is a chance that it will be a tropical storm as it enters the southeastern Caribbean. It will be very far to the south, hugging the coast of Venezuela before entering the Central Caribbean late next week. Then it will be entering very favorable conditions and we could be dealing with a major hurricane as it approaches Jamaica or Hispaniola next weekend.
IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY: After that it could affect Cuba, the Florida Keys, western Florida, the Florida Panhandle, the Central Gulf Coast, the Bahama, or Mexico. It could miss the United States entirely. Nothing like a specific forecast, huh? But it is just impossible to say at this point. Suffice to say, everyone with interests along the Gulf Coast will want to keep one eye on the progress of the system over the coming two weeks.
MODEL MADNESS: It’s still model madness and a voodoo sandwich at this point, with every run of the model controls pointing to a very different solution. The ensemble output of the two global models is still all over the board as one would expect, but some consistency did emerge last night and this morning.
Here is the output of the GFS Ensembles showing possible tracks. You can see that it is focusing on the area between the Florida Keys, South Florida and the Bahamas up into the Carolinas.
Here is one set of the European model’s individual ensemble members for Thursday morning the 6th based on last evening’s run. The ensemble runs come by varying the input slightly each time to produce a different possible result. When there is good agreement among the members, you have have more confidence in that model run. You can see all of the different ideas on the table in the various outputs:
The just shows some of the various options on the table for no.
There is actually one more set of ensemble outputs to go with these. But I counted up all 50 ensemble members this morning, and the winner (or loser) was the Florida Keys or the Bahamas with 16 of the 50 runs targeting them. There was about a 50/50 split between the Keys and the Bahamas. Interesting to note that Alabama/Mississippi region showed as a landfall point for 4 of the members. The biggest majority was no storm or no landfall. That seems unrealistic at this time.
Here is the control run of the European from the morning. It shows a hard right turn into Hispaniola on Wednesday on Tuesday October 4th.
Here is the control from the GFS for the same time:
It shows a similar solution to the European. If that materializes, the U.S. landfalling major hurricane record may remain remain unbroken. And we shall remain dry.
REST OF THE TROPICS: Karl is now a post tropical storm over the North Atlantic. Advisories have been discontinued. Karl passed south of Bermuda Friday night and Saturday morning, bringing tropical storm force gusts to the island nation along with heavy rains. About 800 homes were without power yesterday and there were big swells and waves. No injuries were reported. Bermuda is used to passing hurricanes.
Saturday was another extremely hot day across Central Alabama with all locations in the upper 90s and a couple of 100F readings. It was 100F at the Mercedes Plant in Vance and at Weedon Field in Eufaula. These readings are some 10-15 degrees above normal for late September.
For the second time this month, the Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport hit 98F, which was short of the record for September 24th (99F) set in 1931). Records were set for the second straight day at Anniston, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa with 97F, 98F and 99F respectively.
SUMMER WON’T QUIT: In an average year, we see 6.2 days of 90 degree heat in September in Birmingham. This year, there have been 21 and today will most certainly add another.
ABOVE NORMAL: The graphic shows the amounts average temperatures have been above “normal”, a statistical term used to smooth the jagged edges of “average” temperatures. You can see, we have certainly been above that normal curve, even on the “cooler’ days of September. In fact, we are running 6 degrees above average so far this month.
EYE OPENING STAT: In a typical June – September period, Birmingham will record 52.3 days of 90 degree heat. We will end 2016 with 91 days of 90+ degree heat. We only hit 100F this summer, so it was a season of extremes, but it was relentless.
ONE MORE DAY, ONE MORE DAY: Let me hear you: one more day… Everyone will be back into the middle and upper 90s today and many spots will hit 90F tomorrow. Will that be the last time this year? Probably not. We have registered a 90F reading as late at October 17th in Birmingham. Highs starting Tuesday will average around 80F into the weekend. Lows will be quite comfortable, with 50s each morning this week starting Wednesday.
ANY RAIN? Not much chance. The cold front that will deliver the cooler temperatures will bring scattered showers and storms tomorrow. But rainfall amounts will average one tenth of an inch.
EYE ON THE TROPICS: What will probably become Matthew is a tropical wave some 1350 miles east of the Lesser Antilles this afternoon. More on that and what might be its impact on the U.S. around 130 p.m.
This afternoon, we are still standing on the platform waiting for a delayed train, which is coming in the form of a slow moving cold front. That front is analyzed to be along a line from Little Rock to Shreveport this afternoon.
Two distinct regions of precipitation are affecting Alabama.
1. Showers are firing over Central Alabama in the vicinity of the I-59 corridor.
2. Storms are firing over Mississippi that will move into Alabama later.
The showers over Central Alabama now are not very significant. They will produce some brief heavy rain and some lightning as they continue to spread eastward.
The storms over Mississippi will be stronger. There are several reasons:
1. There is drier air aloft in a pre-frontal trough that is now into western Alabama. This is allowing some clearing over West Alabama and Mississippi. This is allowing for some destabilization of the atmosphere.
2. There is an upper level jet max extending from southern Missouri into southern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Alabama and Mississippi are in the right rear quadrant of this jetmax. This positioning allows for additional lift.
3. There is an upper level disturbance crossing the Mississippi River. It is weakening, but it has additional lift with it.
4. Finally, there is the front.
The lift from the front, the increasingly unstable air, the lift from the upper level jet and the lift from the upper level disturbance is allowing storms to fire over northern Mississippi.
There is sufficient shear to keep the storms organized as well.
These storms will move into Alabama over the next few hours. They will produce heavy rain, lots of lightning and gusty winds.
The Storm Prediction Center did issue a mesoscale discussion, which is a heads up as to whether a watch will be issued. They said the chance was only 20%. Can’t rule out a few warnings however.
The storms should weaken slowly after sunset, but could continue into the overnight hours before dying.
Clouds have been fairly thick across Central Alabama this morning as moisture surges in from the southwest in a deep southwesterly flow aloft and a southerly low level flow.
You hear us yapping about precipitable water in our forecasts all the time. It’s simply a measure of the amount of moisture throughout the atmosphere above us. You can see it in the top left panel on the graphic above.
Last night at Birmingham, it was 1.44 inches. Compare that to the Central Alabama average, which is 1.33 inches. By this morning, the PWAT value at BMX was 2.01. Upstream, Jackson recorded 2.27 inches and Slidell 2.43 inches. These values are on the upper end of the scale for this time of year and the radar shows it.
Showers have been moving northeastward in the southwesterly flow which is gliding upward as it slides up and over the dome of high pressure over the Carolinas.
Those showers will increase slowly in coverage and intensity through the afternoon and the evening in the moistening pattern ahead of an upper level trough and cold front. They will decrease tonight but there will be a chance of a few showers through the overnight hours.
That front will push into Northwest Alabama just before dawn and reach Birmingham around noon. Showers and a few storms will increase ahead of the front and end behind it. The best chances for rain tomorrow will be along and southeast of I-59.
Temperatures will be cooler than those of the past few days today and tomorrow with highs limited to the 80s by clouds and showers. Lower 90s will return early next week.
It will be dry for the work week, with good rain chances returning late next weekend.
Let’s nod toward heaven and our friend and mentor JB, and look at some weather by the numbers:
…Over the past 90 days, Birmingham has averaged over 2.29 degrees above normal (around 4 degrees F). This is even warmer than the 2.05 C that Atlanta has averaged above normal.
…Atlanta recorded their second hottest summer (June – August) ever with an average temperature of 82.4F. This is just 0.3 inches below the 82.7F recorded in the sizzling summer of 1980.
…Birmingham recorded its 5th hottest summer ever at 82.6F, just a degree off the 83.7F in our hottest ever, 2010.
…September has been a hot one at Birmingham as well, averaging 82.0F, which is 4.9F above normal.
…Just projecting out to the end of the month with forecast temperatures, we will probably finish the month with an average temperature of 80.3F. This will be 5.6F above normal and enough to rank as the 6th hottest September ever.
…Over the past 90 days, we are now running a deficit in the rain gauge. Through July and August, we actually ran a surplus in rainfall at the Birmingham Airport, but the tide has turned and we are now 0.7 inches below normal over the past 90 days.
Start your weekend with a look at upcoming events and a look back at this week’s Good News stories from across Alabama! From fall football to fairs & festivals, from restoring faith to Restoration Academy, and from Paralympics to porch swings, there is plenty to make you Alabama proud in the latest from our friends at Alabama NewsCenter.
A tropical low is just east of Daytona Beach this afternoon. It has a chance to become a tropical depression or tropical storm this afternoon.
The low is moving to the north northwest toward Jacksonville.
It has produced wind gusts to tropical storm force (39 mph or greater) along the coast.
Gale warnings are in effect for the coastal waters. A tropical storm warning may be required for the immediate coast and coastal water later this afternoon.
Showers and thunderstorms are firing this afternoon along a stationary front just south of I-20.
They extend along a relatively narrow line from Butler to Linden to south of Marion and Maplesville to Rockford to south of Ashland.
The line is moving little and the individual cells are pushing east northeast along it. These cells are training along the same lime. This will result in some heavy rain.
The storms shouldn’t become severe, but lots of lightning has developed quite quickly, so be in a safe place. When thunder roars, go indoors. There will be some gusty winds.
Clouds are breaking up across the area, which has allowed temperatures to rise to near 90F and is helping to fuel the thunderstorms.
Hot weather will be the word through much of the coming week, with only isolated showers and storms each afternoon and evening, driven by the heating. Showers and storms should increase by the end of the week.
It’s Festival Time across Alabama and some great events headline this week’s collection of Good News from the Alabama News Center!