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A Frightening Afternoon in 1969

| 3:00 pm August 17, 2014


On the afternoon of August 17, 1969, an Air Force crew led by Marvin Little penetrated the eye of Camille. One way of estimating the surface winds was to visually observe the sea condition. Their report indicated that it was unlike anything they had ever seen in their training. Dr. Robert Simpson, the head of the National Hurricane Center knew that the training was based on 150 mph. His instinct told him that the winds were probably in the neighborhood of 180 knots (210 mph.)


He would take the unprecedented step of listing the winds at 190 mph in a special advisory that would prompt action from many people along the coast who had planned to stay put.

And at 3 p.m., a historic advisory was written.  Here is the discussion…


…And the text of the advisory…


Showers and Storms Pushing Into Northwest Alabama

| 11:19 am August 17, 2014
Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

At late morning, a surface low was over northern Kentucky, near Owensboro. This feature is depicted well on satellite imagery and radar reflectivity loops. An upper low was over southern Illinois, with a trough trailing back into Arkansas and northern Texas. Showers and storms developed this morning from southwestern Tennessee into northern Mississippi ahead of the trough, which is progressing eastward with the upper low.

The trough is tapping some deeper moisture that you find back over Texas and heavy rain has been the result. There was a flash flood warning over the Delta of northwestern Mississippi where 2-4 inches of rain fell in 3 hours with additional rain falling.

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The forecast for your Sunday will be influenced by that disturbance and those showers/storms. Indications are that they will settle into Northwest Alabama through the early afternoon and try to settle toward the I-20 corridor. But they should weaken as they drop into that drier air we mentioned two paragraphs ago. They may hold together enough to bring showers and weakening storms to the I-20 corridor.

So, expect increasing clouds northwest of I-59 into the afternoon with a chance of showers and storms. Highs will generally be in the lower 90s. Expect a warm and humid evening with lows in the 70s. There will be a small chance of showers.

The trough will slide a little east tonight and will be over us tomorrow, leading to increasing shower and thunderstorm chances. Highs will top out around 90F, with about a 50-60% chance of rain and thunderstorms.

Clouds Hold Back Storms…For Now

| 1:25 pm August 10, 2014

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A moist airmass continues across Alabama on this Sunday.


But thick cloud cover has kept temperatures below the convective temperature, or the temperature at which showers and storms form. But highs should top out in the middle to upper 80s this afternoon, allowing showers and storms to eventually form.

That was starting to happen around over southern Tennessee and northwestern Alabama where instabilities are greater due to more sunshine.

These storms will push southeastward into Central Alabama even as other storms form. Not much change is expected tomorrow either as the moist airmass and disturbances remain in place.

Warnings for the Montgomery Area; Storms Elsewhere

| 3:46 pm August 8, 2014

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Thunderstorms are increasing in coverage and intensity across Alabama in a soupy, unstable summertime airmass.

Storms in the Montgomery area have become severe and there is still a severe thunderstorm warning in effect for part of DeKalb County.

The NWS Birmingham issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Elmore, Macon and Montgomery Counties till 4:30 PM CDT.

Storms are strongest over Northeast, South Central and West Central Alabama as you can see from this radar grab just before 3:40.


Additional strong storms are over Mississippi and will be entering Northwest Alabama soon.

Other storms are in the Birmingham area right now, but they are not especially heavy.

Heavy Thunderstorms Over Northeast Alabama

| 7:44 pm August 7, 2014


Heavy thunderstorms are over Northeast Alabama tonight. They are dumping torrential rains, producing intense lightning and gusty winds.

They are heaviest over Etowah County, with more heavy rain extending into Marshall and Calhoun Counties. Intense rains are falling just northeast of Gadsden. There may even be some hail there.

A flash flood warning was just issued for parts of Marshall County around Albertville and Boaz.

Everything is moving northeast.

Other showers and storms are over the southern portion of WEst central Alabama down around Demoplis and Thomaston and Pine Hill.

A Few Showers This Afternoon, A Few Showers Tonight

| 1:41 pm August 7, 2014

Showers formed late this morning over West Central Alabama, extending back into Mississippi along the leading edge of a southwesterly flow aloft ahead of an upper level disturbance near St. Louis.

The showers extend from southern Tuscaloosa County back through Greene and Hale and into Sumter Counties. The activity extends eastward across South Central Alabama from Dallas County eastward through northern Montgomery and Elmore Counties to Clay, Randolph and Lee Counties. The activity is widely scattered at this time.

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The graphic shows heat index values at this hour. They are not quite to the advisory criteria of 105F, but they are close in spots. Note that the 104F at Jasper is a suspect value.

Temperatures are in the middle 90s, ranging from 96F at Anniston to 95F at Calera and Birmingham. The temperature at Tuscaloosa peaked at 95F before nearby showers cooled the air by 10 degrees.

The main lobe of vorticity is pushing through western Mississippi and this hour. It will bring a round of scattered showers and storms to western and northwestern Alabama this evening. Here is the 4km NAM Simulated Radar Reflectivity for 9 p.m. tonight.


Hurricane Hunters in Hawaii

| 11:14 am August 7, 2014

The Hurricane Hunters are in Hawaii, but they are not on vacation.

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters) have deployed two lanes to Joint Base Pearl Harbor to monitor Hurricane Iselle as it makes landfall tonight and to monitor Hurricane Julio as it passes north of the islands this weekend.

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I always love the Google Earth depictions of the Hurricane Hunter missions, especially since they look like a Lite Brite, a toy from some of our childhoods.

But these two storms mean business and the Hawaiian Islands are battening down.

If Iselle makes landfall as a hurricane on the Big Island tonight, it will be the first landfall of a hurricane since Iniki in 1992. Only three storms have made landfall as full hurricanes in Hawaii since 1950.

The big island has not had a direct landfall from a full hurricane since modern records began in 1950.


Here is the forecast track for Iselle, showing landfall between 2-3 a.m. CDT, which is 9-10 p.m. Hawaiian time.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for the big island of Hawaii, with tropical storm warnings for the rest of the islands. Flash flood watches are in effect for all of the islands.

Iselle 30 avn_lalo-animated

The storm is unusual in that it has battled an environment full of dry air and decent shear to remain a hurricane. Here is an enhanced satellite image of Iselle.

In a bit, we will take a look at the impact being expected in the islands as Iselle approaches and what affects Julio will have over the weekend.

Afternoon Update

| 2:54 pm August 3, 2014

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Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

AFTERNOON UPDATE: Several features of interest this afternoon on the GR Earth map.

…The cumulus field is decent across Central Alabama. It is thinner to the north, where moisture levels are lower and to the south, where morning clouds kept down the heating.

…A few showers had formed in some of the same areas as yesterday. The heaviest was between Vernon and Belk in Lamar county, with others straddling the line between Marion and Lamar Counties. Others were trying to form over southern Winston and northern Walker Counties. Another was over the City of Tuscaloosa. Everything was drifting slowly southeast. Storms will rain themselves out pretty quickly since there is little wind shear.

…Temperatures across Central Alabama were in the upper 80s generally. Birmingham did touch 90F briefly.

…Tropical Storm Bertha is 689 miles south of Birmingham at this hour. It has turned northwestward and will begin to recurve to the north and northeast tonight and Monday. It is no threat to land. Top winds are still 45 mph but some modest strengthening is expected and it will stop just short of becoming a hurricane.