An upper level disturbance to the west of Alabama has spread a nice layer of cirrostratus clouds across the northern third of the state this afternoon. It has resulted in some beautiful sun dogs, an optical phenomenon caused by the refracting of sunlight through ice crystals.
Here is an example I captured on I-20 near Talladega:
You can actually see both sides!
You can actually see a band of cirrocumulus over northern Mississippi extending into the Tennessee Valley caused by forcing ahead of the disturbance.
Temperatures are in the 50s. We will drop to near 40 overnight with mostly cloudy skies. Skies will become partly cloudy on Monday with highs in the 50s. Colder air will spread in behind the disturbance on Tuesday leading to below freezing overnight readings and highs in the 40s in spots Wednesday and Thursday. No rain expected next seven days.
Today dawned cloudy across Central Alabama, but the clouds quickly thinned into a nice field of stratocumulus and then cleared completely. Temperatures have warmed nicely into the lower 70s across much of the area, indeed across the entire state. Clouds are massing to our northwest ahead of a cold front and those clouds will overspread the area tonight and additional low clouds will fill in like last night. Lows will be in the lower 50s over the west and upper 40s over eastern sections of Alabama.
WHEREFORE ART THOU GOING, COLD FRONT? A pretty strong cold front is approaching the Missouri Bootheel this afternoon. At 3 p.m., it was 70F at Harrison AR. Meanwhile, just across the front it was 36F at Chanute, KS, a distance of less than 90 miles! The front will reach Northwest Alabama around noon tomorrow and slow its forward progress, reaching the I-20 corridor by Tuesday morning. The front will stall there and wash out. There will be a chance of showers on Monday with a slight chance lingering into much of Tuesday as the front falls apart. Highs will be in the upper 70s and lowers will in the upper 40s.
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.
Well, as advertised rain and thunderstorms are pushing northeastward across much of Alabama on this Saturday afternoon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.