A line of intense thunderstorms, including some that are severe and even tornadic, is surging across western Alabama now.
The NWS has issued a tornado warning for parts of Marion County. An intense line of storms, showing strong signs of producing damaging winds, are moving across western Franklin, Marion and Pickens Counties. A tornado warning also continues for parts of Lamar County. Damaging winds and spin up tornadoes are likely with these storms.
Intense storms are over much of Pickens, Greene and Sumter Counties. They are pushing toward Tuscaloosa County and will move into Hale County as well. Tornado warnings are in effect for parts of Sumter, Greene and Pickens Counties. These cells have had a history of producing tornado damage, including some significant damage near Rose Hill in Jasper County, southwest of Meridian.
Look for a tornado warning to be issued for Tuscaloosa County soon.
A dangerous situation is occurring in Lamar County where an intense line of storms is pushing into Lamar County.
It shows strong indications of producing damaging winds and there are at least two possible tornadic circuations. One is near Vernon, the other near Sulligent.
Storms over eastern Mississippi have become severe this afternoon. A couple have even become tornadic with confirmed tornado damage in the Rose Hill area southwest of Meridian. A significant tornado debris signature was observed on radar and spotters confirmed there was a large and extremely dangerous tornado on the ground.
This storm is passing just west of Meridian at this time. It still has a tornado warning on it. It will pass into northern Sumter County and southern Pickens Counties in West Alabama between 4:30 and 4:45 p.m.
Another tornadic cell is just behind the first one, near Paulding MS. It could affect Sumter County later as well.
A quick check of sever weather parameters in that area shows that CAPE values are above 500 j/kg and there is significant low level shear on the order of 350 m2/s2 for surface – 1 km helicity. This is certainly conducive to the formation of tornadoes.
To the north in Mississippi, severe severe thunderstorm warnings are in effect for North Central Mississippi. A severe storm is poised to move into Starkville in the next 10 minutes. The NWS Jackson is upgraded that warning to a tornado warning now.
A tornado watch is in effect until 8 p.m. for West Central Alabama.
*** No Weather Xtreme Video this morning ***
Greetings from the Big Easy, site of one of the semifinal games in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Brian has Pasadena covered and I will cover New Orleans, one of America’s gem cities. And I will get to share a morning discussion with you!
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Are you enjoying some traditional New Year’s Day lucky food? Spaniards ate 12 grapes last night for each stroke of midnight. Maybe you’re having greens, symbolizing folded money. Or black-eyed peas, representing coins. I hope that you and your family have a prosperous 2015!
FOOTBALL CAST: It is one of my favorite days, watching college football. And our two state SEC teams are in the thick of the New Years Day action. Auburn is in Tampa for a date with Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.
Auburn fans will have gorgeous weather today, with lots of sunshine and highs in the 70s. Can’t beat that.
‘Bama fans will encounter cloudy skies today with showers starting to bubble around game time. Luckily the game is indoors, but tailgating, and walks to and from the Superome could be a little damp. I think the really heavy rain holds off until after the game. Revelers in the Quarter late tomorrow wright may get wet. It is chilly by New Orleans standards, with temperatures today in the 50s and there the mercury will stay overnight tonight. Temperatures tomorrow will be in the upper 60s.
FROST ON THE PUMPKIN: Brian Peters is waking to a little frost this morning as he prepares to go watch his beloved Florida State Seminoles play in their national semifinal game. Lows there this morning were in the lower and middle 30s. Highs today will not be very California-like, in the upper 50s, more like New Orleans will be today.
RAIN ON THE WAY: Today is a transition day for Central Alabama. Our next weather maker is a huge upper level low that we find over Arizona. That system brought heavy snow to Wickenburg AZ near Phoenix yesterday! Ten inches fell near Flagstaff. Temperatures over the Rockies this morning are running some 15-30 degrees below normal. There is an active southern branch of the Jetstream from Baja California across Texas and then over the Southeast. A low pressure system will develop to our west, and as it does, it will propel a warm front northward. This warm front will produce rain across Central Alabama starting tonight and lasting into Friday. Then a cold front will push our way, bringing more showers and thunderstorms to the state. We will be in the 40s this afternoon but 60s will be common on Saturday. There will be some thunder involved on Saturday, but severe weather should not be a problem. We will be watching. Flooding is not expected to be a problem, but 1 to 3 inches, as expected, could cause problems if it falls quickly enough. The rain will end on Sunday as a cold front passes. Next week should be cool and dry with temperatures around 50F by day and 30s at night.
NEXT RAIN CHANCES: Another system shows up around Saturday, one week from today.
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WEATHERBRAINS: Greg Carbin was this guest on this week’s show. Check out the show at www.WeatherBrains.com. You can also subscribe on iTunes.
ON THIS DATE IN 1916: Rainmaker Charles Hatfield set up his equipment in San Diego, California. It had been bone dry in San Diego for months. Desperate for rain, the City Council had approved his proposal to fill the city’s near empty reservoir for $10,000. The self-proclaimed meteorologist used towers holding barrels of boiling secret chemicals. His claim was that he didn’t make the rain, he attracted the clouds and the rains just came. Soon afterwards, it began to rain in Southern California. Problem was, ot didn’t stop. Flooding resulted and on the 27th a dam on Lake Moreno collapsed, with large loss of life. Many people filed lawsuits against Hatfield, but the suits were dismissed because the event was an Act of God. The city refused to pay hatfield for his services since it was an Act of God. Hatfield’s life would be turned into a play, a novel and eventually Burt Lancaster would play him in the 1956 film The Rainmaker. You can find a statue erected to Hatfield at Lake Moreno. Follow my weather history tweets on Twitter. I am @wxhistorian at Twitter.com.
The National Weather Service has expanded the Flash Flood Watch to include more of Central Alabama, mainly south of US-278 and north of US-80.
It goes through Monday at 6 a.m.
Counties added to the watch include:
Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Etowah, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Randolph and Tallapoosa.
This is in addition to the counties that were already in the watch:
Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Marengo, Marion, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston.
Some major cities included in the watch are: Hamilton, Jasper, Gadsden, Anniston, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Demopolis, Selma, Montgomery and Auburn.
Storm total rainfalls are expected to range between 2 and 4 inches across this entire area by Monday morning, with the heaviest amounts from Shelby County through Tuscaloosa, Hale and into Sumter and Choctaw Counties. Recent heavy rainfall amounts have resulted in saturated ground and high rivers and streams. The additional heavy rain could cause flooding.
A large rain area is moving northeast across Central Alabama at this time. It will mainly impact areas south of I-20.
DENTING DEFICITS: Many Central Alabama locations are still well below normal in the rainfall department for 2014. It seems that nature is trying to reverse the situation with another soaking event. Birmingham is currently 6.10 inches below normal for the year and Tuscaloosa is at 5.15 inches short of average. Anniston is a little better, at 2.37 inches short, but all in all it has been a dry year.
Fortunately, the current event will bring some relief to the situation as a widespread soaking rainfall event is underway. Hopefully, we won’t deal with any flooding issues however.
A look at the water.weather.gov precipitation map for the year clearly tells the story. Only part sof Lamar, Marion and Winston Counties have been above average for the year, with scattered pockets of wetter than normal conditions across parts of Pickens, Tuscaloosa and Shelby Counties.
This of course translates into hyrdrological drought across parts of Alabama. Here is the U.S. Drought Monitor report for this week.
…AT 233 PM CST…A CONFIRMED LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR IMPROVE…AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH.
The NWS in Jackson is calling it a particular dangerous situation.
The tornado debris signature is at 10,000 feet which indicates large tornado. Debris is falling from the sky.
The storm is moving in the general direction of Laurel. It could get into West Alabama’s Choctaw or Sumter Counties before 5 p.m. Hopefully it will weaken before getting into Alabama.
Quite a battle of airmasses across Alabama and the Southeast at this hour. Temperatures look like this:
How about 42F at Athens GA and 70F at Mobile?
Or what about 48F at Gadsden and 67F at Meridian MS.
There is a warm front in there that is battling to come north and northeast against the cold air damming wedge entrenched over Georgia. It probably won’t get much further to the northeast this afternoon from its current location from somewhere over southern Pickens County southeastward to Central Montgomery County and on into Southeast Alabama.
North of the front, dewpoints are in the 40s and 50s, while south of it they quickly pop up into the 60-65F range. We will have to have those 60+F dewpoints for significant severe weather.
Rain and storms will continue in three main areas this afternoon. Ahead of the frontal zone over Central Alabama as moist southwesterly winds are lifted up and over the boundary. This overrunning is very efficient and is resulting in some heavy rainfall. Only .37 inches at the BHM Airport since midnight, but that will be changing.
Much of Lamar, northwestern Fayette, southeastern Marion and northwestern Pickens Counties have picked up well over 1 inch of rain with a widespread area of 2-3 inch amounts over Lamar. Flooding is likely in these areas.
To the west, showers and storms are lined up over West Alabama, beginning to feel the influence of the approaching cold front, which lies from east of Memphis to Vicksburg. Heavy rain and lightning were occurring from near Hamilton to west of Fayette to near Carrrollton.
These showers and storms will edge slowly east ahead of the cold front.
South of the front over southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southwestern Alabama, there is some clearing going on, and this will allow for additional destabilization of the atmosphere. Surface based CAPE values are over 500 j/kg over a wide area including southwestern Alabama, southern Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana. Values are as high as 2500 j/kg near Lafayette LA southwest of New Orleans.
The strongest showers and storms are over southern Mississippi south of Jackson, where there are severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings in effect. These storms will continue to lift northeast. But instability values over Alabama and Mississippi will slowly wane this afternoon. But wind shear values will remain high and storms will be organized and able to bring strong winds down to the ground. Damaging wind will be the main threat for us and those reports will be isolated generally.
Helicity values are highest over North and North Central Alabama, away from the best instability, which is good news as it limits the tornadic potential. There is sufficient low level shear though for a couple of tornadoes closer to the coast over Southeast Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southwestern Alabama. There is a tornado watch in effect there now.
The damaging wind threat is more widespread there as well. A large and extremely dangerous tornado is on the ground near Columbia MS.
A strong thunderstorm is moving across the Birmingham Metro area with lots of heavy rain and lightning. There will be some gusty winds as well.
The storms are not severe since they are elevated and since they are running into even more stable air, the chance that they will produce large hail has lessened.
There have been reports of flooding in Ensley. Areas from Brookwood in Tuscaloosa County up into western and northern Jefferson County have received between one and two inches of rain in less than an hour.
The strongest parts of the storm are over northern Jefferson County and will be pushing up through the Pinson area. A secondary part of the storm is over southern Jefferson and northern Shelby County, passing along I-459 near Liberty Park, heading towards Leeds and Moody.
The NWS has issued a tornado watch for parts of South Alabama. Here is the watch area.
That is a beast of a storm this morning in Hale County. It is elevated in nature, which for our regular readers says that its base is in instability that is well above the surface layer. These storms are less likely to be severe and less likely to produce tornadoes, but can still be prolific hail, lightning and rain producers. And they still can produce strong gusty winds.
That is the case this morning with this storm, which is very organized. It has produced reflectivity returns over 70 dbz this morning which shows very heavy rainfall and has consistently indicated the potential for one inch sized hail.
Reports from Greensboro show nickel sized hail (0.88″) which is just below the severe limit, but larger hail likely fell to the north. Large tree limbs and branches were also reported down in Greensboro.
The storm weakened for a bit but has shown signs of intensifying in the past few minutes. The warning for Hale County continues until 8:45 but will not be extended into Tuscaloosa County. The NWS has chosen to go with a Significant Weather Advisory for Tuscaloosa County.
The storm will also affect northern Bibb County, including West Blocton. It should stay just north of Centreville.
The City of Tuscaloosa will get heavy rain and lightning.
The storm will reach southwestern Jefferson County between 9:30-9:45. It will impact the Birmingham area starting around 9:45 a.m. reaching downtown Birmingham around 10:15 a.m.