Author Archive: Brian Peters

Brian Peters is one of the television meteorologists at ABC3340 in Birmingham and a retired NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist. He handles the weekend Weather Xtreme Videos and forecast discussion and is the Webmaster for the popular WeatherBrains podcast.

rss feed

WeatherBrains 574: Never Used It on Either End

| January 17, 2017 @ 6:00 am

WeatherBrains Episode 574 is now online (January 16, 2017). If you are crazy about weather, this is THE netcast audio program for you!

Jesus Haro, MIC, NWS San FranciscoTonight’s Guest WeatherBrain is the Meteorologist in Charge at the National Weather Service in San Francisco Bay Area/Monterey. Mr. Haro was on a previous WeatherBrains show (Episode 465) when he was the MIC at the NWS Office in El Paso, TX. Jesus Haro, welcome back to WeatherBrains!

Other discussions in this weekly podcast include topics like:

  • Extremes: 84 at Harlingen, TX, & Marathon, FL, and -37 at Stanley, ID
  • Big ice storm winding down in Central US
  • Only marginal severe weather risks in southern US next few days
  • Unseasonably warm across the Southeast US
  • Astronomy Outlook with Tony Rice
  • and more!

Our email bag officer is out this week.

From The Weather Center:

WeatherBrains 101: Snow covered 49 percent of the Lower 48 at last check, so when the weather turns warmer, snow melt could become an issue. So what is snow melt and how does it contribute to flooding? That’s the topic for this episode of WeatherBrains 101.

Listener SurveyListener Surveys: Okay, we continue to drive this topic into the ground, but we really do like to hear from you. Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to fill out the Listener Survey. The survey takes just a minute or two to complete and provides us with an opportunity to learn where you are and hear your thoughts and comments on the show. Click here to take the survey.

Web Sites from Episode 574:

NWS San Franciso

Tsunami Warning Center

Drought Monitor

To subscribe to the brand new SkyWritings, an email newsletter from the WeatherBrains gang, click HERE.

Picks of the Week:

Bill Murray – Gets the fog horn!

Brian Peters – WPC Probabilistic Winter Precipitation Guidance

James Spann – Interactive weather satellite imagery

The WeatherBrains crew includes your host, James Spann, plus other notable geeks like Nate Johnson, Bill Murray, Aubrey Urbanowicz, Rick Smith, Kevin Selle, and Brian Peters. They bring together a wealth of weather knowledge and experience for another fascinating netcast about weather.

Audible.com graphic

Spring-like Warmth Continues

| January 15, 2017 @ 7:12 am

Yesterday was another day with several records falling across the state as the upper ridge in place allowed an unseasonably warm air mass to sit in place. Birmingham reached 76° which was just short of the record of 78°, but Tuscaloosa hit 75° which tied the old record set in 1960. Anniston reached 76° beating the old record of 73° set in 2007. Huntsville climbed to 76° smashing their old record of 71° in 2007, and even Mobile beat their record of 78° from 1971 by making it to 79°.

This morning we find clouds across much of the Southeast US along with some fog. Dense fog advisories were in place until about 9 am for areas along the Gulf Coast as well as along the stationary front from South Carolina through northern Mississippi to Northeast Texas. Good southerly flow will keep us warm in spite of the clouds with highs once again in the 70s. We could see record highs tied or broken this afternoon. Records for today include Birmingham 78 set in 1947, Anniston 73 set in 1950, Tuscaloosa 76 set in 1950, and Montgomery 50 set in 1950. The winter weather mess continued in the Central US.

For those headed to the beach, partly to mostly sunny weather continues for much of the week with a chance of showers and thunderstorms each day after today. Highs will be in the lower 70s throughout the forecast period. See the complete Gulf Coast 7 Day Planner here.

Severe weather today is possible over a large chunk of Central Texas as a strong upper level short wave ejects out of northern Mexico. SPC only highlights a marginal risk for Day 2 and Day 3.

For much of the next 7 days, the GFS maintains a trough over the Southwest US and northern Mexico. That pattern will result in several short waves coming out of the main trough with one Monday, one on Friday, and finally the main trough ejecting across the Lower Mississippi River Valley on Monday/Tuesday. A northern stream short wave provides a glancing blow for us in the Tuesday/Wednesday time frame.

The first short wave comes out across the top of the ridge on Monday and that will drag a cold front into the Southeast US on Tuesday. A short wave in the northern stream comes in right behind the one coming out of the Southwest US knocking the ridge down and pushing the dissipating front a little further south. So there is a chance for some showers and rain from late in the day Tuesday into Wednesday. There is a little bit of instability so the possibility exists for us to hear a little thunder, but I do not expect to see severe storms. Temperatures are forecast to remain relatively warm with highs in the 70s Monday and Tuesday cooling only slightly into the 60s for Wednesday and Thursday. While rain chances are not high with the system Tuesday/Wednesday, they do improve with the system on Friday resulting in rainfall amounts across Central Alabama in the range of one half to one and one half inches.

Shower chances remain with the front dangling across Central Alabama on Thursday. Friday, a strong short wave coming across the Central Mississippi River Valley will result in a surface low in the vicinity of St. Louis with a cold front pushing eastward across the Southeast US. This looks promising for a good rain event for Central Alabama with some concerns for the potential for severe weather. There are too many model differences and a good amount of uncertainty this far out, so there is no specific forecast for this event just yet. But the is enough concern to remain vigilant and keep a watchful eye on this event.

An upper ridge develops quickly along the US East Coast on Saturday, so we should be dry and relatively warm with highs in the 60s. The big event as we saw yesterday and as we see again today is for a major trough/closed low to come out of the Southwest US into Texas on Sunday and move across the Lower Mississippi River on Monday. If this pattern does verify, then we are looking at the potential for a fairly serious severe weather episode across a good chunk of the Southeast US. Again, model differences and uncertainty this far out preclude a specific severe weather forecast, but the evolution of this feature will need to be watched carefully in future model runs.

Looking out into voodoo country, the big system goes by on Tuesday while another trough digs into the western US and comes out across the Central Plains in the Wednesday/Thursday time frame. By Friday, January 27th, the GFS takes the upper flow over the Southeast US into a ridge pattern while it digs another substantial trough into Baja California around the 30th. So the pattern remains pretty active for the rest of January.

DAVIS CUP SINGLE DAY TICKETS ON SALE NOW: The U.S. will face Switzerland at the BJCC February 3rd-5th in the first round for the Davis Cup. Single-day tickets are on sale today. Buy tickets here.

James Spann will have the next edition of the Weather Xtreme video posted here first thing on Monday morning. I hope you have a great day with an opportunity to enjoy the warm weather. Godspeed.

-Brian-

Temperatures Reminiscent of Spring

| January 14, 2017 @ 7:03 am

A dense fog advisory was in effect until 9 am for the northern third of Alabama roughly along and north of the I-20 corridor. Friday was a warm day for mid-January in Central Alabama. So warm, in fact, that record highs were either set or tied. Birmingham’s high for Friday was 78 breaking the old record of 77 set in 1932. Montgomery’s high was 81 breaking the old record of 79 set in 1907. Anniston’s high was 75 which tied the record set in 1995. Tuscaloosa came close, too, with a high of 78 which was one degree shy of the record high of 79 set in 1972.

After the foggy conditions improve, we should see a mix of sun and clouds today with our afternoon highs climbing into the middle 70s. Once again the record highs for today will be in jeopardy. The records for today include:
Anniston 73 (2007)
Birmingham 78 (1932)
Tuscaloosa 75 (1960)
Montgomery 80 (1932)

If your plans include the beach, you can expect partly to mostly sunny skies through the weekend and into early next week. A chance of showers and thunderstorms returns for Martin Luther King Day through mid-week. Highs will be at or just over 70 degrees throughout the forecast period. See the complete Gulf Coast 7 Day Planner here.

While the Southeast US was enjoying weather more typical of Spring than January, a broad swath of the country from the Oklahoma Panhandle to southern Pennsylvania was experiencing icing issues. The pinks and purples were primarily winter weather warnings for ice while the off-blue color on the map indicated areas under a winter storm watch.

The upper air pattern is one that we should be fairly familiar with. The current pattern featured a strong upper ridge over the northeastern Gulf Coast with a very deep trough and closed low near Baja California. This pattern was tapping into Pacific moisture that was riding into the Central US along the front dividing the warmer air over the Southeast US from the cold air in the Central US and creating a great deal of issues.

The upper trough over Baja California will remain in place through Thursday, but a fairly sizable short wave will be ejecting out to the northeast reaching the Great Lakes in the Tuesday/Wednesday time frame. While all of this action is going on to the northwest and north of us, we stay in spring-like weather with a mix of sun and clouds and highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s.

Tuesday into Wednesday the pattern begins a shift as the upper ridge gets beaten down by short waves coming out of northern Mexico. This pattern will once again drag a front into our area early Wednesday giving us a likely chances for rain. Rainfall amounts for us are likely to remain less than an inch with most locations getting rain seeing less than half an inch. We stay unsettled on Thursday with small chances for rain with the stationary front stalled in the area, generally along the I-20 corridor. A potent short wave comes out of the Southwest US on Friday ramping up rain chances once again. Temperatures will remain unseasonably warm into the weekend.

By Saturday, the upper air pattern continues to show a trough over the western US with the ridge pumping up along the US eastern seaboard. This keeps us in a southwesterly flow, so we probably won’t be clearing out much with some chance for rain. Temperatures will remain mild but shrink from being near record levels.

The longer range outlook from the GFS presents a really strong trough coming out across the Mississippi River Valley on Monday. This pattern with a surface low in the vicinity of Paducah, KY, would suggest the potential for a round of severe weather, but this is into voodoo country, so we’ll need to maintain a watchful eye on this to see if it does develop. The upper pattern goes chilly with a trough along the Mississippi River by Tuesday the 24th. By Thursday, the 26th, the GFS has gone nearly zonal with the pattern as yet another trough begins to take shape digging into the Southwest US.

DAVIS CUP SINGLE DAY TICKETS ON SALE NOW: The U.S. will face Switzerland at the BJCC February 3rd-5th in the first round for the Davis Cup. Single-day tickets are on sale today. Buy tickets here.

I plan to have the next Weather Xtreme Video posted here between 7 and 7:30 tomorrow morning. Enjoy the spring-like weather and have a great day. Godspeed.

-Brian-

WeatherBrains 573: Fastest Thing on the Highway

| January 11, 2017 @ 8:06 am

WeatherBrains Episode 573 is now online (January 10, 2017). If you are crazy about weather, this is THE netcast audio program for you!

John Murphy, COO NWSTonight’s Guest WeatherBrain is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the National Weather Service. He was formerly the Director of the NWS Office of Science and Technology. He served as a career meteorologist in the United States Air Force for 29 years before joining the NWS in 2011. He was the Commander of the Air Force Weather Agency. His meteorology degree is from Lyndon State and his Masters is from Penn State. John Murphy, welcome to WeatherBrains!

The Office of the Chief Operating Officer (OCOO) manages the day-to-day mission execution units responsible for delivering NWS weather, water, climate and space weather products, services, and information as well as the budgetary planning for 11 National Service Programs. The Office is responsible for coordinating and integrating all aspects of mission execution to ensure consistency of NWS products and services. The Office is responsible for enforcing National Service Program policy. The Office manages the NWS Operations Center (NWSOC) and provides liaison services to other partnering agencies. The Office is the lead for Continuity of Operations (COOP) planning to ensure organizational and management continuity. The Office monitors and reports service delivery performance measures, conducts and evaluates operational service efficiency, effectiveness, and customer satisfaction, and develops NWS policy delineating NWS’s mission and its public sector responsibility to produce and disseminate information. The Office manages and oversees resources to maintain and sustain effective mission execution, identifies and validates needed service requirements, and ensures those needs are incorporated into cross-portfolio planning activities. These activities require active coordination and collaboration with all members of the climatological, hydrometeorological, space weather, and oceanographic communities as well as all weather-sensitive constituent communities including other Federal, state, and local government agencies; the media; the private weather information sector; academic institutions; non-governmental organizations; constituent organizations; and the public.

Other discussions in this weekly podcast include topics like:

  • Extremes: 88 at McAllen, TX, & Edinburg, TX, and -17 at Lewistown, MT
  • Cold relinquishing it’s grip for now
  • New storm on the horizon for next weekend for Central US
  • With cold, little severe weather next several days
  • Astronomy Outlook with Tony Rice
  • and more!

Our email bag officer is continuing to handle the incoming messages from our listeners.

From The Weather Center:

WeatherBrains 101: There’s a lot of cold over the eastern US the last several days, and cold weather can lead to some issues later in the year. These issues can be ice jams produced by ice forming on the surface of rivers, streams, and creeks. Debris jams are similar, but can occur at anytime of the year.

Listener SurveyListener Surveys: Okay, we continue to drive this topic into the ground, but we really do like to hear from you. Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to fill out the Listener Survey. The survey takes just a minute or two to complete and provides us with an opportunity to learn where you are and hear your thoughts and comments on the show. Click here to take the survey.

Web Sites from Episode 573:

Jobs web site

Occupational workforce analysis (NWS)

NWS Office of Chief Operating Officer web page

NWS organizational structure

Warn on Forecast program

HR-1561, Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2016

To subscribe to the brand new SkyWritings, an email newsletter from the WeatherBrains gang, click HERE.

Picks of the Week:

Nate Johnson – Weather video by Mike Olbinski

Bill Murray – gets the fog horn!

Brian Peters – Weather and inauguration days

Kevin Selle – Skybrary, a single point of reference for aviation safety

James Spann – Interactive snow information

Aubrey Urbanowicz – Sierra Nevada cam with 8 feet of snow

The WeatherBrains crew includes your host, James Spann, plus other notable geeks like Nate Johnson, Bill Murray, Aubrey Urbanowicz, Rick Smith, Kevin Selle, and Brian Peters. They bring together a wealth of weather knowledge and experience for another fascinating netcast about weather.

Audible.com graphic

Where Did the Cold Come From?

| January 8, 2017 @ 11:27 am

Ever wonder where the air in your location actually came from? Well, using the NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) HYSPLIT model, you can do just that.

The HYSPLIT model is a complete system for computing simple air parcel trajectories as well as complex transport, dispersion, chemical transformation, and deposition simulations. HYSPLIT continues to be one of the most extensively used atmospheric transport and dispersion models in the atmospheric sciences community. A common application is a back trajectory analysis to determine the origin of air masses and establish source-receptor relationships. HYSPLIT has also been used in a variety of simulations describing the atmospheric transport, dispersion, and deposition of pollutants and hazardous materials. Some examples of the applications include tracking and forecasting the release of radioactive material, wildfire smoke, windblown dust, pollutants from various stationary and mobile emission sources, allergens and volcanic ash.

So I ran the HYSPLIT model this morning using Birmingham, AL, as the end point, asking the program to track back the trajectory of the air in place here. Using the latest GFS model data, it provided me with this map showing that our air, our cold air, began seven and a half days ago over the northern Pacific.

So the air that brought frigid conditions to Central Alabama this morning actually began in the North Pacific southwest of the Aleutian Islands around 500 feet and following a path that brought it southward across a large portion of western Canada until its arrival here. Our atmosphere is absolutely amazing!!

-Brian-

Frigid Start to Your Sunday

| January 8, 2017 @ 7:04 am

It is starting out very cold this morning with some of the coldest temperatures we’ve seen since early 2015! As I’m writing this the temperatures across North and Central Alabama ranged from 10 at Fort Payne to 18 at Calera (Shelby County Airport). And our Skywatcher at Black Creek has reported a low of 7 degrees! Looks like we could go above the freezing point this afternoon with lots of sunshine coming in from a clear sky. Highs today are expected to reach into the middle and upper 30s.

As you probably expect, the cold has a grip on much of the Nation so there are no areas of severe weather projected for the next few days.

The surface high will migrate eastward into the Atlantic Monday and Tuesday. This will turn the surface flow around to the south in the Lower Mississippi River Valley on Monday and here late Monday and Tuesday. Daytime highs should climb to near 50 on Monday and into the 60s on Tuesday. Don’t you just love the rapid turn around we experience in the Southeast US? 14 degrees on Sunday morning and 60 by Tuesday afternoon!!

The upper air pattern shifts from a deep trough along the East Coast today to ridging Monday and Tuesday. But by Tuesday we’re watching a trough move quickly through the fast moving flow to our north resulting in a cold front that will be dragged into the Southeast US late Tuesday and Wednesday. Front loses it’s forward momentum as it becomes parallel to the upper air flow. This will provide us with the best chances for rain from late Tuesday into the first half of Wednesday. But those chances, while the best, are not expected to be particularly high with rain probability standing around 40 percent. Rainfall amounts will be lower than what was projected yesterday with places getting rain only receiving about a quarter of an inch at best.

The upper air pattern is forecast to remain a ridge from an upper high centered over the Florida Peninsula for the latter half of the week ahead. Another front will drag southeastward Friday but it is not expected to actually reach the Southeast US as we were seeing yesterday. This run of the GFS is much more bullish on the upper ridge with the primary action to our west where a deep trough and closed low are forecast to dig into northwestern Mexico. This pattern is reminiscent of the one we saw the first couple of days of 2017 as that trough taps into Pacific moisture. The primary threat for a rainy pattern appears to be a little to our west over Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma for the 15th of January. That rain will finally come our way around the 17th as the deep trough ejects east-northeast across Texas. But this is verging several days into voodoo country, so you can expect to see changes to the forecast before we actually get to week 2.

As I mentioned yesterday, the pattern is expected to remain fairly fast. Once the trough ejects by us around the 18th, we’ll have a couple of mild days with another trough digging into Texas on the 21st of January. That one will move by us around the 22nd and turn the upper flow northwesterly again with another potential for some cold weather as we get to 372 hours into the forecast.

WORLD CLASS TENNIS RETURNS TO BIRMINGHAM: The BJCC will host the first-round tie against Switzerland February 3rd-5th. Single-day tickets are on sale now. Get them while they last! Buy tickets here.

James Spann returns with the warmer weather tomorrow morning. I hope that you have a great day. Godspeed.

-Brian-

Coldest Since When?

| January 7, 2017 @ 2:25 pm

If you have been following the weather, you know it has been and is going to be cold. When temperatures drop below 20 degrees, I think most people would agree with calling it “brutally cold.” So I was curious. The GFS MOS guidance forecast low tonight is 14 degrees. So, when was the last time the temperature was that low or lower in Birmingham? A search of NWS records showed that Birmingham hit 13 degrees on February 19, 2015, nearly two years ago. The most recent cold was a low of 8 degrees on January 8, 2015.

If you are a fan of cold weather, it’s worth noting that the latest date for the last freeze of the season came on April 22, 1993. The mean date for the last freeze is March 25th.

Be sure to take precautions to avoid any bursting pipes since temperatures are going to remain below zero for a pretty long time today and Sunday, and we’re not likely to make it above the freezing mark until Monday morning. Also, please don’t forget to take care of your outdoor pets. Bring them into a warm location like a garage or provide a sheltered location for them. Remember, too, that their water bowls may freeze in this cold weather, so check those often to be sure they have plenty of water to drink.

-Brian-

Satellite View of Snow

| January 7, 2017 @ 9:10 am

Often times after a winter weather event, the visible satellite imagery reveals the extent of snow. So I was anxiously waiting to view the early visible images over the Southeast US to see if our winter weather event showed up. And it does – sort of – if you look closely. Here’s the image.

So if you look closely in Central Alabama you will see a couple of small white spots. Those are the locations of where enough snow fell to be able to be seen from the geostationary satellite. Look at the image again, but turn your attention to the Memphis area from eastern Arkansas across Tennessee. That is the snow that fell there during the last couple of days.

-Brian-

Coldest Weekend This Season

| January 7, 2017 @ 8:49 am

Sorry for the delayed Weather Xtreme Video. It was a very long day yesterday and the effects of the snow/sleet continue into this morning. At this writing, do not plan to get out in Central Alabama until the early afternoon. Roads are a mess and with the cold air in place are likely to stay that way for several more hours.

The sky is clear across Central Alabama with a stiff north wind and temperatures in the teens. Just before 8 am Anniston was the warm spot at 20! Not many days in the Southeast US you can say 20 is warm! Cold air advection as the surface high to our west settles across the Southeast US tonight will keep temperatures in check with highs not expected to get out of the 20s. Want something above the freezing mark? You’ll need to go south but even in South Alabama readings are not expected to get out of the 30s!

Numerous watches/warnings/advisories remain in place from East Texas to southern New England. The watch/warning map will be changing throughout the day as precipitation comes to an end, but those issuances may be swapped to extreme cold advisories.

The upper trough makes it way into the Atlantic Sunday keeping the strong northwesterly flow in place over the eastern half of the country. The surface high will settle into the Southeast US on Sunday morning, so look for morning lows Sunday morning to be in the range of 10 to 15 degrees. This will definitely be the coldest we’ve seen in quite some time.

Monday the upper ridge begins to come our way and gets here Tuesday. That should warm us up nicely with upper 40s Monday and upper 50s Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday the storm track in the upper air pattern is pretty far north so a storm system moving through the Great Lakes Tuesday and into eastern Canada Wednesday will drag a cold front into the Southeast US. The front won’t make much headway south as it becomes parallel to the flow aloft. Looks right now like the best chance for rain should come Tuesday night and Wednesday as the front stalls out across the northern half of Alabama. Don’t worry, temperatures should be warmed up enough to eliminate the risk of any wintery precipitation with highs in the 60s Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday the storm track remains north of us so we stay a little unsettled with the old frontal boundary in the area and the approach of yet another one Friday. The weather should be mild and the GFS MOS guidance for Birmingham even prints out 71 for Thursday. Rainfall through Thursday morning is likely to be the best over the northern half of Alabama but amounts won’t be particularly stellar with values from Tuesday through Thursday morning at a half inch or less. We’ll take what we can get since every little bit helps.

A strong upper trough comes out across the Central Rockies on Friday with the trough axis situated over Oklahoma on Saturday. This will spell another round of wet weather for us good southerly flow out of the Gulf with the surface high to our east and a good fetch of Pacific moisture with southwesterly flow aloft. We’re likely to start Saturday out dry but see it turn wet later in the day along with a west Sunday. Highs should be in the 60s.

Looking further afield, the GFS maintains a pretty active pattern as you would expect for this time of year. The trough comes across on the 15th of January followed by another one around the 17th of January. The next one comes around the 19th followed by a very deep, strong trough around the 22nd. If this one verifies, it has the look of some serious severe weather for the Lower Mississippi River Valley and the Southeast US followed by the potential for winter weather across the Central Plains. But you know how voodoo country can be – here today, gone tomorrow.

WORLD CLASS TENNIS RETURNS TO BIRMINGHAM: The BJCC will host the first-round tie against Switzerland February 3rd-5th. Single-day tickets are on sale now. Get them while they last! Buy tickets here.

The next Weather Xtreme Video will be posted Sunday morning. I’m not going to guarantee it to be coincident with sunrise but I’ll try to get it posted reasonably early. Have a great day, stay warm, be safe in whatever travel you must do. Godspeed.

-Brian-

WeatherBrains 572: Two Doctors and a SOO!!

| January 4, 2017 @ 9:42 am

WeatherBrains Episode 572 is now online (January 3, 2017). If you are crazy about weather, this is THE netcast audio program for you!

Tonight’s GuestPanelist needs no introduction to our audience. He is a former President of the AMS and the host of The Weather Channel’s WxGeeks show. Dr. Marshall Shepherd, welcome to WeatherBrains!

And tonight’s Guest WeatherBrains are both alumni of the show. She is a prominent social scientist in the area of meteorology and preparedness at the University of Alabama. Dr. Laura Myers, welcome to the show! He is the Science and Operations Officer at the National Weather Service Office in Birmingham, Alabama. Kevin Laws, welcome to the program!

Other discussions in this weekly podcast include topics like:

  • Extremes: 88 at McAllen, TX, Marathon, FL, & Stuart, FL, and -25 at Jordan, MT
  • Severe weather across southern US on January 2nd
  • 4 tornado deaths in Alabama
  • Snow potential for Southeast US at end of week
  • Astronomy Outlook with Tony Rice
  • and more!

Our email bag officer is watching incoming messages from our listeners, but topics, technical issues, and a weather show puts off the mail bag again.

From The Weather Center:

WeatherBrains 101: The initial review of the Netatmo weather equipment was in Episode 465 with a follow-up in Episode 512. Now for this segment of WeatherBrains the Professor does yet another follow-up as the Netatmo weather equipment continues to impress with new equipment elements to flesh out your weather station.

Listener SurveyListener Surveys: Okay, we continue to drive this topic into the ground, but we really do like to hear from you. Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to fill out the Listener Survey. The survey takes just a minute or two to complete and provides us with an opportunity to learn where you are and hear your thoughts and comments on the show. Click here to take the survey.

Web Sites from Episode 572:

Bryan Woods’ article on snow forecasting

AMS guideline on use of “meteorologist”

Forbes article by Dr. Shepherd on viral weather forecasts

To subscribe to the brand new SkyWritings, an email newsletter from the WeatherBrains gang, click HERE.

Picks of the Week:

Kevin Laws – Pivotal weather data

Laura Myers – Suggests following local WFO on Twitter like @NWSBirmingham and @NWSJackson

Bill Murray – Gets the fog horn!

Brian Peters – Pictorial essay, Winter Is Coming

Kevin Selle – Attention Merchants

Rick Smith – Forbes article on viral weather forecasts

James Spann – NCEP sref plumes

Aubrey Urbanowicz – Mother lode of weather links

The WeatherBrains crew includes your host, James Spann, plus other notable geeks like Nate Johnson, Bill Murray, Aubrey Urbanowicz, Rick Smith, Kevin Selle, and Brian Peters. They bring together a wealth of weather knowledge and experience for another fascinating netcast about weather.

Audible.com graphic

Wet and Stormy Weather for Start of 2017

| January 1, 2017 @ 7:22 am

Clouds covered much of the Southeast US this morning along with a good deal of fog. Dense fog advisories were confined primarily to the Lower Mississippi River Valley across Arkansas and Louisiana. But for the first day of 2017, it was mild as temperatures overnight actually climbed under the influence of warm air advection and southerly flow. Readings across Alabama ranged from 66 at Mobile to 45 at Fort Payne. Most of the rain this morning was confined to Southeast Alabama but additional rain is expected to develop later this morning and this afternoon as the moisture out of the Pacific continues to pump into the Southeast US. Highs today should climb into the lower and middle 60s.

If you plan to head to New Orleans to see Auburn play against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl with a 7:30 pm kickoff tomorrow night inside the Super Dome, thunderstorms will threaten the area through the day, so rain gear will be a good idea for going to and from the game. It will be warm in New Orleans with a low in the upper 60s and the afternoon high around 80.

Heading to the beach? It will be cloudy with multiple chances of rain today and into the start of upcoming week. Partly sunny days and fair nights are forecast later in the week. It will be mild for the next several days with highs in the lower 70s, but turning colder Wednesday with highs in the middle 60s. See the complete Gulf Coast 7 Day Planner here.

The closed low/trough over the Northwest Mexico this morning will eject northeastward on Monday bringing the threat of additional rain and the potential for severe weather to a large portion of Alabama. SPC has placed all of Alabama in a slight risk of severe storms with an enhanced risk covering nearly the southwestern third of the state including cities like Tuscaloosa, Livingston, Selma, Greenville, and Mobile. GFS develops a surface low over northern Louisiana around noon on Monday and moves it northeastward across Memphis by 6 pm and into the Ohio River Valley by 6 am Tuesday. CAPE values are projected to be in 1000 to 2000 j/kg range Monday afternoon gradually diminishing into the evening hours. Helicity values by 6 pm Monday are forecast to be in the 300 to 400 range, so besides the threat of damaging wind, it appears likely that there could be a tornado threat too. Mondays highs may reach the lower 70s with dew points in the lower 60s, so this three should definitely be taken seriously.

Since we’re coming off the holidays, today would be a good time to review your severe weather safety plans and be sure you have a good way – best to have more than one way – to get weather warnings. The greatest threat for severe storms appears to be between 11 am and 11 pm on Monday.

The upper short wave moves to the Mid-Atlantic States on Tuesday as the rain will end from the west across Alabama. It looks likely that we’ll remain cloudy through the day on Tuesday as the rain ends, but we might see a few breaks in the clouds by late afternoon. Based on the current frontal passage timing, temperatures Tuesday are probably going to be holding steady or falling during the day with daytime values in the lower 60s.

We gradually go under the influence of a broad developing trough on Wednesday and Thursday. This will put us under cold air advection for several days with temperatures gradually getting lower. Highs Wednesday will be in the upper 40s falling into the upper 30s on Thursday.

The models have done another flip flop for Friday. Yesterday the ECMWF was dry while the GFS showed some rain with a band of potential wintery precipitation. This run has flipped just the opposite with the GFS dry and the ECMWF showing a narrow band of light snow for Friday afternoon. There is little to no confidence in the forecast for the end of the week as long as the models keeping flipping. For now, my forecast is going to remain with the GFS for a rather cold but dry day on Friday. Any precipitation that does develop is likely to be light with the impact of any winter weather low. The GFS moves the surface high onto the Atlantic Coast on Saturday bringing a return of moisture back into the Lower Mississippi River Valley. This brings the possibility of rain into the forecast for next weekend, but the threat of any wintery precipitation with this pattern should be minimal as we warm up quickly under developing southerly flow.

Yesterday the GFS was pretty calm on the upper air patterns in voodoo country. This mornings 06Z GFS run is anything but calm! The upper air pattern now develops a fairly strong trough just to our west around the 10th and digs it into the East Coast by the 12th suggesting another round of pretty cold weather. But the upper flow goes into a strong ridge over the East with a closed low over Northwest Mexico by the 14th, a pattern very similar to the one we’re dealing with right now. So this would point to the potential for another multi-day rain event as the flow taps into Pacific moisture once again. Ain’t this fun?

Thanks for sticking with the Weather Xtreme Videos while James has had a bit of down time. He should be back with the next edition of the Weather Xtreme Video Monday morning. I’ll be subbing for Meaghan Thomas on ABC 3340 New at 5 and 10 pm today, so be sure to tune in for the latest on our wet and stormy situation. Have a great day and Godspeed.

-Brian-

Complex Forecast for First of 2017

| December 31, 2016 @ 7:10 am

Strap on your seat belts! The forecast for the start of 2017 looks complicated and is likely to feature something for everyone ranging from sunshine to thunderstorms to wintery precipitation.

Clouds increased across the Southeast US overnight as good Pacific moisture began to be pumped into the area as the upper flow began to take on a more southwesterly character. The surface flow was also beginning to go southerly picking up low level moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Temperatures were all over the board this morning ranging from 32 at Fort Payne to 48 at Mobile. Flash flood watches were issued for portions of Southeast Louisiana, southern Mississippi, Southwest Alabama, and extreme western sections of the Florida Panhandle in anticipation of the multi-day rain event that we’ve been forecasting.

While temperatures near the ground are warm, the temperature/moisture profile of the lower portion of the atmosphere still supports the potential for precipitation to begin as light sleet. Radar showed numerous patches of light rain in Alabama with almost no observation sites reporting rain at the ground. The dry layer near the ground will allow some evaporative cooling thus the potential for some light sleet as the column moistens up. But by this afternoon the temperature/moisture profile will have moderated with all precipitation coming in the form of rain. It will be chilly today with highs climbing only into the lower 50s.

Weather will not affect either the Alabama or the Auburn games since both are being played inside domed stadiums. But you may need some rain gear going and coming from the games. Alabama faces the Washington Huskies in the Georgia Dome this afternoon at 2:00 pm. The day looks cloudy with rain expected to move into northern Georgia during the evening hours. High will be near 50 in Downtown Atlanta. Auburn goes against the Oklahoma Sooners in New Orleans in the Super Dome on Monday evening at 7:30 pm. Weather looks rather warm, wet, and unsettled with showers and thunderstorms likely and temperatures in the middle 70s.

If your plans include the beach, cloudy skies are forecast together with multiple chances of rain for the weekend and into the beginning of next week. High temperatures will be in the upper 60s today climbing into the lower 70s Sunday and into the first several days of next week. See the complete Gulf Coast 7-Day Planner here.

The upper flow becomes decidedly southwesterly Sunday as a deep trough and a closed low did into Northwest Mexico south of the Four Corners area. This just keeps the flow of Pacific moisture coming into the Southeast US, so Sunday will be a wet day with rain off and on. Some peals of thunder are possible Sunday as well with the best chances for severe weather across the eastern two-thirds of Texas.

The upper flow stays southwesterly into Monday as the closed low comes out across East Texas as an open trough. The surface low will be in Northwest Kansas with a front pushing across the Lower Mississippi River Valley. SPC has the standard slight risk area across a large portion of Mississippi, most of Louisiana, East Texas, and a small sliver of Alabama from the West Central counties to Mobile. CAPE values are forecast to near 2000 j/kg over the slight risk area along with helicity values in the 200-300 range. SPC may adjust this area in future updates, so we’ll have to watch carefully to see if there will be any impact on North and Central Alabama.

Tuesday the upper trough zips well northeast of us and the surface front moves into Georgia, so Tuesday will be a transition day as we dry out with precipitation ending from the west. Monday and Tuesday should be fairly warm days with a strong southerly flow so highs will be well into the 60s. GFS MOS guidance suggests we could reach the 70s on Monday, but I’m not as optimistic as MOS is since we’ll have showers and thick clouds around.

Rainfall during the five-day period ending Thursday morning will be in the 2 to 4 inch range across North and Central Alabama with amounts of 4 to 7 inches possible from Dothan westward across Mobile and into the southern half of Louisiana.

Wednesday and Thursday will be somewhat nondescript days with partly cloudy skies and temperatures kept on the chilly side with a surface high off to our northwest. Highs will be a bit cooler than typical for early January with highs in the 40s and lows in the 30s.

Friday is shaping up to be a challenging day for forecasters. The ECMWF and the GFS are completely our of phase with each other, so confidence on the forecast for the end of the week and into the weekend is not terribly high. Unfortunately, the normally stable ECMWF has been flipping dramatically between runs while the GFS has maintained at least some continuity, so for now I’m going with the GFS. A short wave moves across the Central US on Friday and into Saturday. This is forecast to set up a broad low in the Gulf as colder air to the north sinks southward. As the GFS did yesterday, it is suggesting a band of sleet and light snow across northern portions of the Southeast US on Friday. The best chances for any snow will be across the Tennessee River Valley and northern third of Mississippi. It is much too early to be able to say whether or not this could create any travel issues particularly because our ground temperatures are so warm. But as we all know all too well, those exposed elevated roadways and bridges will respond differently. So this situation definitely falls in the category of careful watching.

By Saturday the upper trough moves eastward sweeping the clouds and precipitation with it but leaving us somewhat chilly with highs in the 40s.

Looking out into voodoo country, the GFS has gone quite bullish on the return of the upper ridge over the Gulf and Bahamas. This would definitely suggest some milder weather for the Southeast US.

I’ll be helping to handle the weather duties on ABC 3340 this weekend, so you can watch at 6 and 10 pm today for the latest forecast information. I hope you have a great day. Godspeed.

-Brian-