We are dealing with a very sharp cold front not very far to our north. Look at these temperature contrasts at 9 a.m.:
61F in Tupelo, 37F in Memphis (90 miles)
64F in Nashville, 34F in Hopkinsville KY (55 miles)
66F in Longview TX, 37 in Mouth Pleasant (45 miles)
Here in Nashville, I went down to breakfast at 945 with a temperature of 65F, and when I stepped outside at 10:30, it was 45F!
We continue to watch a major winter storm to the north and northwest of Alabama on this first Sunday in March. If you go anywhere from New Mexico to New York City, you will be under a winter weather advisory, watch or warning. Winter storm warnings are as close as northern Mississippi and western Tennessee. The entire states of Kentucky and West Virginia are under winter storm warnings.
The National Weather Service in Huntsville has posted a winter weather advisory for late tonight and early Monday for Colbert, Lauderdale, Franklin, Lawrence and Limestone Counties. A wintry mix will spread into Northwest Alabama around 4-5 a.m. and will spread across the Tennessee Valley Counties into places like Huntsville and Scottsboro through sunrise. More patches of a light wintry mix of freezing rain and sleet will spread across the area along and north of US-278 through the morning hours, diminishing by noon.
This means that folks in Marion, Winston and Cullman Counties, over into Marshall, Etowah and Cherokee Counties may deal with some light freezing rain or sleet early Monday morning as temperatures fall quickly to freezing behind a cold front and precipitation continues to stream across the area.
South of US-278, temperatures will remain above freezing until Monday night and the precipitation will be long gone by then.
Here is a peek at the RPM model for 8:30 a.m. tomorrow morning showing some light wintry mix across North Alabama in areas along and north of US-278.
IN THE HERE AND NOW: Clouds have held tough this morning in areas generally along and north of I-59. There was even some early fog. Surprisingly, early temperatures were not affected significantly by the clouds, with generally everyone in the lower 60s, a testament to the relatively warm airmass in place over Alabama. A few places in the heavier cloudiness are in the upper 50s. Everyone should get into the 70s by this afternoon with a mix of clouds and sun as those clouds erode, but other clouds move into later today. There could be a few sprinkles before the clouds erode in those areas north of I-59.
PRECIP MOVES OUT TOMORROW: The rain will be mainly southeast of I-59 by 7 a.m. tomorrow and will race eastward out of the state by 10 a.m. or so. Most everyone should see a decent soaking, overnight tonight and early Monday with about one half inch of rain on average. Monday will be a blustery day with clearing skies, but a strong northwest wind will make it feel sort of miserable.
MISERABLE MONDAY MERCURY: The ol’ thermometer will fall quickly into the 30s this evening over Northwest Alabama. The front will reach Hamilton a little after sunset, Cullman by 9, Tuscaloosa by 11, Birmingham/Gadsden by midnight and Anniston by 2 a.m. It will get into Middle Alabama around Clanton by 8 a.m. or so. Temperatures behind the front will fall into the middle 30s in the I-59 corridor before rebounding a tiny bit into the upper 30s as sun peeks back out for awhile. Lows Monday night will fall below freezing across all of Central Alabama, with upper 20s across the northern half of the area.
New York City’s Central Park has only experienced four winter seasons with 60 or more inches of snow.
It was on this date in 1996 that the station established a new single season snowfall record when 4.6 inches of snow brought the total to 66.3 inches. This surpassed the old record of 63.2 inches set in 1847-48. Eventually, the season would total 75.6”.
As you can see, this year is in hot pursuit, sitting in fifth position.
The current storm is projected to bring 4-8 inches of snow to the Big Apple tonight and Monday, so this year is certain to make the short list five. There is a good shot that this winter will make the top two or three. It looks like the top position is safe, but a rogue late season storm isn’t out of the question.
March has produced at least eight snowstorms in history of seventeen inches or more. And a snowstorm in April is not outside the realm of possibility.
March came in like a lion across the South on this date in 2009 as a strong upper low spread snow across Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. After dumping over a foot of snow on western Tennessee on Saturday night, snow moved into Alabama during the early morning hours on the 1st. One to two inch amounts were common, with several amounts in the three to five inch range. The snow moved into Georgia, bringing heavy snow to the Atlanta area.
There was some confusion about whether it marked the end of an amazing snowless streak at Birmingham’s official reporting station, the Shuttlesworth – Birmingham International Airport, where two inches of snow fell. A cursory review of the records indicated that it put an end to a streak that had lasted over nine years. Even the State Climatologist’s online records indicated it had not snowed since January 28, 2000. It was going to go into the record books as a 3,319 day streak.
But not so fast my friend, as Coach Lee Corso likes to say.
The official records at the National Climate Data Center showed that It had snowed 0.1 inches at the Airport on March 8, 2008. So the counters were reset to that date instead. While the streak was not quite as long as it could have been, it still was by far the longest in the city’s history.
While the streak was a year shorter than earlier thought, Birmingham residents were generally thankful for the snow they got.
Birmingham’s longest snowless streaks
1. 2961 days 1/28/2000 until 3/7/2008
2. 2225 days 2/1/1951 until 3/6/1957
3. 1769 days 2/13/1905 until 12/18/1909
4. 1387 days 2/13/1971 until 12/1/1974
5. 1137 days 1/5/1919 until 2/15/1922
6. 1069 days 2/23/1901 until 1/28/1904
Photograph by Kathy Bell, owner of kbella photography.
March marks the start of both meteorological and astronomical spring. This year, the season will turn to spring on Mach 22nd.
The third month is definitely a time of transition in Alabama. As the days lengthen and the sun moves higher in the sky, average temperatures start to climb. The average high in Birmingham at the start of the month is 62F. By month’s end, the average daytime high is 71F. The average low at the start of the month is 40F. By March 31st, the average is 47F.
The warmest it has ever been in March was 90F on March 21st, 1907, as Birmingham was in the middle of an unusual heat wave. That reading was taken when the official observation station was at the U.S. Weather Bureau office in Fountain Heights. The hottest it ever was at the Birmingham Airport was 89F on March 19. 1982.
The coldest March reading in Birmingham history was 2F on March 14, 1993. That was the day after the 1993 blizzard, which is also remarkable for producing the city’s biggest snowfall ever, 13 inches at the Airport. The temperature generally drops to freezing or below on 6.1 days in the month. The average date of the last freeze usually occurs in mid to late March.
March is the wettest month of the year in Birmingham. On average, 5.23 inches of rain falls in the Magic City. The 15.80 inches that fell in March 1980 is the most ever recorded in the third month of the year. It occurred during a month of flooding.
The 1.02 inches that fell in 2007 is the least recorded in March. It rains on 11.0 days on average, which ranks third behind July at 12.4 days and January at 11.2 days.
Thunderstorms occur on 4.6 days. The months of April through August are all stormier, but March does mark the beginning of the primary severe weather season, at least in North and Central Alabama. Alabama’s deadliest tornado outbreak in history occurred on March 21, 1932.
The percentage of possible sunshine is on the increase, averaging 55% in the month, up from the 42 percent that is typical of January, but still less than the 66 percent we usually see in May and October. The sky is cloudy 41 percent of the time. It is clear 24.2 percent of the time.
March is tied with April as the windiest month of the year, with an average wind speed of 7.6 mph.
March roared in like a lion on this date in 2007 across the Deep South as a powerful storm system triggered an outbreak of 56 tornadoes from Missouri and Illinois into Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida. A total of twenty people died in the storms, including 10 in Alabama. Five of the tornadoes were rated as EF-3 or EF-4.
The outbreak actually began on the 28th of February in Kansas, where an EF4 tornado was reported.
By far, the worst damage and majority of fatalities came from South Alabama and Southwest Georgia. An EF4 tornado struck a high school in Enterprise, Alabama around 1:10 p.m. Eight students and another man died in the tragedy. The fatalities occurred when a concrete wall collapsed on a group of students huddled in a hallway at the school. A controversy arose as national media outlets questioned whether school administrators should have dismissed school early, but nearly all local residents supported the decision to keep students at school.
A high risk outlook was issued early that morning and a PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) tornado watch was issued hours in advance. The National Weather Service Tallahassee issued a tornado warning a full eight minutes before the tornado struck the school.
Another devastating tornado struck the Millers Ferry area in Wilcox County here in Alabama, killing one man. That tornado also was rated as an EF4.
Just before 9:30 p.m., another tornado caused significant damage in Americus, Georgia. A hospital in Americus was heavily damaged.
A deadly tornado put an exclamation point on the day when it struck a mobile home community just north of Baker in Baker County, Georgia. Six people died in this twister, that occurred just before midnight.
The outbreak continued into the early morning hours of the 2nd in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
Here in our state, Alabama, other tornadoes touched down near Adamsville, in northern Tuscaloosa County near Samantha, in Arley in Winston County and in Fayette County. Twisters were also reported near Alabaster and in Lowndes and Montgeomery Counties.
After the outbreak, the tornado toll for the year across the United States stood at 43. That was the deadliest total observed in any year through March 1. Only 1949 was deadlier, when a deadly tornado struck Warren, AR in January killing 49.
So far this year in 2014, the death toll from tornadoes in the United States: zero.
After a pretty nice Friday afternoon across Central Alabama, which saw highs top out near 60F, showers have been moving across the state tonight. Rainfall amounts have been light, generally less than one tenth of an inch. The showers are diminishing and moving to the east late tonight.
Mild temperatures are in store across the area today, which even nicer readings in store for tomorrow. But even though we turn the page today to March and to meteorological spring, don’t count your chickens just yet. Winter has a few more reminders left that it is officially not out the door until March 22 by the calendar, including some colder weather this week.
With a good supply of sunshine Saturday, temperatures will warm well into the 60s. Highs will generally warm into the middle 60s from US-78/280 northeastward, with upper 60s and even a couple of 70 degree readings possible in places like Livingston and Demopolis. Lows Saturday night will barely make it into the middle and upper 40s.
IF YOU LIKE SATURDAY, YOU WILL LOVE SUNDAY: It doesn’t get much better than the weather we expect Sunday here in Alabama. With a good supply of sunshine under partly cloudy skies, highs will warm into the middle 70s. That’s right, you heard it: 70s. Go outside and roll around in the grass like a puppy! But change will not be far away, even as you are frolicking.
It comes in the form a a big load of heavy, cold air that will be making its way over the border from Canada into the northern and Central Plains. This cold air is behind all of the mischief to our north. By Sunday night, the cold front will be moving into the Northwest part of Alabama. Showers and some thunderstorms will push into the state starting late Sunday afternoon and progressing southeastward through the overnight hours. Rainfall amounts won’t be especially heavy, averaging around one half inch, with some one inch amounts possible.
IMPORTANT HEADS UP IF YOU’RE DRIVING NORTH: It is hard to imagine that while we are talking about 70s here in Alabama, Winter Storm Watches are posted not very far to our north. Places from eastern Kansas and Oklahoma across all of Oklahoma, northern Arkansas, northwestern Tennessee, much of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and all of Kentucky into western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
A major, crippling ice storm is expected across much of Kentucky with a quarter of an inch to one half of ice expected to accumulate. To the north, heavy snow is expected. 10-14 inches of snow will fall across North Central Ohio, which 6-8 inches around Cincinnati The snow will fall on top of a thin layer of freezing rain. St. Louis is expecting 5 inches of snow, and around 7-10 inches around Indianapolis. If you are traveling north into these areas starting Saturday night through Monday, please check the latest forecasts and warnings.
TORNADO WARNING TONIGHT:
The NWS in Sacramento issued a tornado warning tonight about 8:30 p.m. CST for a storm northwest of Sacramento. A funnel cloud and lowering did pass over I-5 near Woodland, but I have not seen any indication that a tornado touched down.
Seems it never rains in southern California
Seems I’ve often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California
But girl don’t they warn ya
It pours, man it pours
So sang Albert Hammond in his top five 1972 hit “It Never Rains in Southern California”. Today’s weather has disproved the thesis from the first line of the chorus, but the last line is ringing true today.
Indeed, severe weather has been occurring this afternoon in an unusual place: Southern California.
A rare slight risk severe weather outlook was in effect all day along the coastal areas of southern California, including Los Angeles and San Diego. The new 01z issuance (7 p.m. CST) removed the risk area.
There have been a number of severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings issued by National Weather Service offices like San Diego, Hanford and Los Anegles (Oxnard).
In fact, a severe thunderstorm warning just expired for parts of the City of San Diego.
Here was the a regional radar showing the warning polygon at the time the warning was issued:
There have been numerous reports of flooding and debris flows over roads in that region.
A plane was moved 3 feet at the John Wayne Airport in Orange County by a microburst. There was jet bridge damage. The official ASOS at the airport recorded 35 mph. A nearby wind observation recorded 74 mph wind gust.
While the weather might, be an inconvenience to some, most folks are rejoicing at the rain, with exceptional drought affecting much of that area.
The East Mississippi Chapter of the NWA/AMS is hosting the 12th Annual Southeast SevereStorms Symposium on April 4th-5th, 2014. The symposium will be held at The Palmeiro Center on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.
Each year they feature a good mixture of topics and presentations at our symposium that both operational and broadcast meteorologists can enjoy.
Registration for attendance can be done online at nwa.org.msstate.edu anytime until April 3rd, 2014, or in person on that day. The symposium covers all forms of severe weather phenomena (flooding, severe thunderstorms, winter weather, etc.).
Abstracts are being accepted until March 14th, 2014. If you wish to present on a certain topic of interest at the symposium, please feel free to contact Hayden Nix, President of the East Mississippi Chapter of the NWA/AMS at htn25 at msstate.edu. Please make sure that 2014 Symposium is in the subject line of the email.