From airline expansion to artistic expression, from civil rights to clinical renovation, and from final farewells at the circus to fabulous fare at Birmingham’s Restaurant Week, this week’s edition of Good News Stories from Alabama NewsCenter inspires us to take part in local activities and to take pride in Alabama! Here are a few of our favorite stories:
Here is the latest in the world of numbers dealing with the weather. All of these totals are up to the end of the day on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. Enjoy.
85F – Warmest high for the contiguous United States during the last 24 hours (Marathon, FL).
113.5F – Warmest high from around the world during the last 24 hours (Vioolsdrif, South Africa).
-8F – Coldest low for the contiguous United States during the last 24 hours (Big Piney, WY).
-63.6F – Coldest low from around the world during the last 24 hours (Delyankir, Russia).
60.8F – Average high temperature for Birmingham so far for January 2017.
43.5F – Average low temperature for Birmingham so far for January 2017.
52.2F – Average temperature for Birmingham so far for January 2017.
8.2F – Degrees above normal that Birmingham’s average temperature is running for January 2017.
78F – Warmest high temperature for Birmingham so far for January 2017 (set on 1/13).
13F – Coldest low temperature for Birmingham so far for January 2017 (set on 1/8).
1.90 – Highest rainfall total (in inches) for the contiguous United States during the last 24 hours (Augusta, GA).
5.87 – Highest rainfall total (in inches) from around the world during the last 24 hours (Tahiti-Faaa, French Polynesia).
2.56 – Amount of rainfall (in inches) for Birmingham so far for January 2017.
-0.13 – Departure from normal (in inches) for Birmingham so far for January 2017.
1.72 – Greatest 24-hour rainfall total (in inches) for Birmingham so far for January 2017 (set on 1/2).
0.3 – Amount of snow (in inches) for Birmingham so far for January 2017.
6 – Reported tornadoes for Alabama since January 1.
53 – Reported tornadoes for the contiguous United States since January 1.
1 – Reported hail events for Alabama since January 1 (quarter-size hail, Sumter County).
40 – Reported hail events for the contiguous United States since January 1.
16 – Reported damaging wind events for Alabama since January 1.
354 – Reported damaging wind events for the contiguous United States since January 1.
Information gathered from NWS Birmingham, the Storm Prediction Center, and Ogimet.com.
Please make plans to attend the first meeting of 2017 on Tuesday, January 24th. The chapter is excited to have Tim Marshall as the guest speaker. Tim is a renowned speaker within the meteorological community and avid storm chaser. He will certainly have some incredible stories and images of his many days spent chasing tornadoes.
The meeting will take place in the conference room at Vulcan Park. The chapter will have a “Meet and Greet” from 6:00 PM until 6:30 PM and there will be some business items to discuss before Tim begins his presentation. Some light refreshments will be provided. The chapter is asking everyone for a $10 donation to help defray the costs of bringing in a speaker like Tim Marshall. Tim does not charge a speaker fee, but there are costs involved in bringing him from Dallas, Texas. The $10 donation will only be collected at the meeting location. However, if you pay your 2017 membership dues of $25, or $15 if you are a student, the $10 donation will be waived.
There are two ways to pay membership dues. You can pay your dues on the chapter’s website. It does use PayPal so there will be an additional small charge that goes directly to PayPal. You can also pay your membership dues when you arrive at the meeting. You can also RSVP here.
Once again, our Alabama NewsCenter partners remind us of the abundant blessings here in our own back yard. Here are a few of our favorite good news stories:
Because winter weather took center stage on Friday, our weekly edition of Good News Stories from Alabama NewsCenter was abbreviated. Be sure to take time today to enjoy some of our favorite stories from across the lovely state of Alabama!
Still getting flooded with specific traffic questions this evening… again, I am a meteorologist, not a highway engineer, and all I can do is let you see the current real time situation… most of the issues are in the Birmingham metro. See the map below…
*While most roads are dry, icy spots remain
*Biggest issues seem to be concentrated east of Birmingham on interstate highways
*Temperatures tonight will drop into the teens again
*Biggest issues remain on ridges/mountains
If you drive tonight, understand that while most roads are dry, there ARE icy spots. I don’t have a way of knowing specific places where ice lingers, but the map on this post gives you a pretty good idea where ice and traffic issues linger.
Use your common sense and be careful!
After last night’s winter storm, we have a bright sunny, but very cold day. The high will be around 30 degrees for most. The weather forecast is the easy part.
But, due to horrible icy/snowy conditions traffic was a nightmare in the Birmingham metro this morning, and I am being inundated with traffic questions. Unfortunately, meteorologists are not highway engineers, and forecasting road conditions is not our greatest skill. We can give you some general ideas, however.
BIRMINGHAM: With a strong January sun and very low dewpoints (dry air), road conditions continue to improve across the metro, and many main roads are dry with only some patchy ice. However, some major issues remain. The Interstate system, with elevated bridges, is still a challenge early this afternoon. Some trouble spots…
I-65 at Alford Avenue atop Shades Mountain
I-459 near Liberty Park
I-20 near Leeds and Pell City
US 280 at Double Oak Mountain
Due to earlier multiple car crashes and lingering ice, travel is difficult. In these spots.
See the maps below for traffic conditions early this afternoon across the Birmingham metro and the state:
The aerial show below is U.S. 280 near County Road 41 between Chelsea and Double Oak Mountain about 10:30 this morning….
Through the morning, I told people DON’T DRIVE until 12:00 noon. Now that we are past noon, there are some important points…
*Yes, many roads are in much better shape
*Patchy ice lingers, especially on bridges
*Multiple car crashes from earlier today are still bring cleared up.
*If you do drive this afternoon, watch for icy spots and be VERY careful.
*All roads north of Birmingham are mostly dry with only a few icy patches.
*Seeing some isolated ice issues lingering in Tuscaloosa and Anniston
*Gadsden roads seem to be dry.
Travel in the Birmingham metro should be mostly dry tonight, BUT ICY SPOTS WILL LINGER!!!
Let’s take it easy out there…
Our Alabama NewsCenter friends bring us more Good News Stories from across the lovely state of Alabama! Because we are keeping our focus on winter weather updates, we are posting an abbreviated list of our favorite stories with a link to see the entire line-up of Good News Stories from Alabama NewsCenter. Here they are:
Here’s a link to all this week’s stories! Stay safe and warm today and tonight. We will have frequent updates throughout the event!
Welcome to a new year, and to what usually ranks as the coldest month on the calendar for the city of Birmingham. The average high for the entire month of January is 52.8 degrees, while the average low is 32.3 degrees. The month starts off on New Year’s Day with the average high at 53 degrees, and the average low at 33 degrees. By the time you reach the 31st, the average high has only risen to 55 degrees, while the average low dropped during the month and has made it back up to 33 degrees.
January represents the depths of winter in Central Alabama. The days are growing longer now as we have passed the Winter solstice, but you can hardly tell it in the month’s temperatures. The coldest low temperature ever recorded for the city of Birmingham happened on January 21st, 1985, when the mercury dropped to -6 degrees. 1940 is ranked number 1 as the coldest average low temperature for the entire month, at 21.5 degrees.
Surprisingly, it can get very warm in January as well. Back on January 10th, 1949, the thermometer topped out at an amazing 81 degrees. 1950 is ranked number 1 as the warmest average high temperature for the entire month, at 66.6 degrees.
January is ranked as the second wettest month for the Magic City, with March being the only month averaging more rainfall. That is some very encouraging news considering that the city of Birmingham is still classified in an exceptional drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor. On average, Birmingham generally receives 5.45 inches of rain throughout the month, and rain usually falls in the city on 11 days of the month. The wettest month on record for Birmingham was recorded in 1937, when an astounding 13.37 inches of rain fell throughout January. The driest January on record was in 1981, when only 1.09 inches fell.
Snowfall in the city of Birmingham is rare compared to most of the other major cities throughout the United States. Since 1930 (a total of 86 years), measurable snow has fallen in January in the Magic City a grand total of 24 times. During that span, Birmingham has only averaged 0.70 inches of snow in January for each year. The highest recorded snowfall in a 24-hour period during the month of January was 9.5 inches back in 1940, while the most January snowfall fell back in 1936 at 11.80 inches.
January can also be called the gloomiest month of the year, even though most see the month as “a new beginning” over the previous year. January ranks number 1 as the cloudiest month, with the skies being cloudy 48% of the time. It is also considered the foggiest month, with dense fog reported on average of 1.3 days.
Finally, 2016 ended for the city of Birmingham with the city in an exceptional drought. The Magic City tallied 40.31 inches of rain for the year. The yearly average for the city is 53.72 inches, which means Birmingham ended the year with a deficit of 13.41 inches. Maybe 2017 will grace us with the needed rainfall to return us back to normal totals, and keep any destructive severe weather away from Birmingham.
Remembering the Best of 2016 and Looking Forward to the New Year With Our Alabama NewsCenter Partners!
As we ring in the New Year, our friends at Alabama NewsCenter show us that festivities abound and highlight the best of 2016! Here are some of our favorite stories.
We live in the “age of information”, yet ignorance and misinformation seem to be at an all-time high. Those of us in the weather enterprise laugh at journalists upset over “fake news”… welcome to our world. We have been fighting this for a long time.
Our biggest issues come from weather enthusiasts, or Internet entrepreneurs simply looking for eyeballs, who have learned that forecasts about snow, ice, severe storms, floods, and tornadoes get all the clicks, shares, and likes. Truth in this case does’t matter. And their trick is forecasting these high impact events 2 to 3 weeks out, where there is no skill in specific predictability. People that love “sexy weather” will flock to these blogs and Facebook pages and share away with no regard for the truth.
Oddly enough, the other source of bad weather information comes from weather apps that you have on your phone.
I know most of you up front are immediately thinking we don’t like weather apps because that is the new preferred source of weather information, and people don’t wait until a television newscast to get a forecast. In reality this doesn’t bother me at all; we want easy weather access for the public, and an app is convenient and available anytime at your fingertips. Our weather segments on ABC 33/40 are an excellent supplement to what you see on your phone; we tell a story the app can’t.
During quiet weather, these apps are pretty good to five days. But, we rarely have “quiet” weather during the cold season here.
The problem? Most all of these apps are totally automated, using raw “model output statistics”. This data is assembled into a nice graphical interface that is easy to use. But, the forecasts in most cases go WAY beyond the limit of our ability to predict specific weather events. Most all of them do a 10 day forecast, some a 20 day forecast, and one even does an outrageous 90 day forecast. In the words of Del Griffith, one of the characters in the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” played by John Candy, you would have better luck “playing pick up sticks with your butt cheeks” than getting a forecast right 20, 60, or 90 days out. Yet people actually use this information to plan important life and business events.
I have been on “vacation” this week, yet I have answered multiple questions from panicked people seeing a big snow storm, ice storm, or blizzard on their app in the 10-30 day time frame.
And, of course, when the “crap app” is wrong, we get all the blame. The trolls, haters, and know it alls are all over us because of their phone app we have nothing to do with.
WHAT TO DO: Yep, you know it. I will tell you to read the blog. We (actual humans that are trained in meteorology with years of experience) spend long, hard hours writing easy to understand discussions that are frequently updated explaining it all. And, since you are reading it now, I am preaching to the choir.
Sure, we can be wrong. That is just the nature of forecasting weather. But I have detailed verification statistics, and short term forecasts written here are correct over 95 percent of the time. (Of course, we hear the stale joke on a regular basis about us being wrong over half the time and still get to keep our job).
APP PARADE: These are the apps I recommend. None of them are perfect, but I have them on my phone.
ABC 33/40: Yep, I work for these fine people, my friends in the news department are my family, and you can see the blog there, in addition to the Weather Xtreme videos and WeatherBrains. All in one place. Sure, it has a 10 day automated forecast I am not very happy about, but you CAN see all of our meteorologist produced products there.
WEATHERRADIO BY WDT: This is my preferred app for warnings. These guys get it right, and you need it on your phone. You control what warnings you receive, and it warns you not only for your specific location, but also for fixed locations you can program into the app. And, it works on the polygon warning system. If you are in the polygon, you get the warning. If you are not, you won’t.
RADARSCOPE: Best radar app on the market by far. The pro version allows for high resolution live lightning and other cool functions.
SOCIAL: Another thing we can do that apps can’t… answer your questions. I am on all platforms, and am honored when you pick me for your question about weather.
And, on Snapchat I am “spannwx”.
We are just asking for you to take it a little deeper… beyond your weather “crap app”… when the weather gets active. You won’t regret spending those extra few minutes to actually find out what is going on…
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor continues to show extreme to exceptional drought conditions across the eastern and central counties of Central Alabama. Some improvement continues across northwest and far southern Alabama. Exceptional drought conditions continue over much of the state, with severe to extreme drought conditions across the rest of the state, except over the northwest corner of the state along with the extreme southern parts of the state, where abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions are found.
Rain from the system that moved through the state on December 17-19 brought some improvement in the drought conditions across far northwest and far southern Alabama with totals generally between 1-2 inches in these areas. The rest of the state received generally less than 1 inch. We still could use soaking rains to help the current moisture needs and to shrink the rainfall deficits for the year.
Some precipitation amounts for central Alabama since January 1st:
• Birmingham 39.80 in
• Montgomery 40.88 in
• Anniston 31.39 in
• Tuscaloosa 36.99 in
• Calera 36.93 in
• Troy 39.90 in
Normal precipitation expected and departure from normal January 1st through December 21st:
• Birmingham 52.39 in (-12.59 in)
• Montgomery 51.57 in (-10.69 in)
• Anniston 48.44 in (-17.05 in)
• Tuscaloosa 51.28 in (-14.29 in)
• Calera 53.11 in (-16.18 in)
• Troy 53.35 in (-13.45 in)
The last USDA report issued indicated that agricultural interests continued to be significantly impacted by the drought with additional ponds and streams reported to be drying up. Cattle producers are said to be supplementing livestock with hay, feed supplements and water hauled from elsewhere. Delays in plating winter crops are reported due to the continued drought.
Fire Danger Impacts
The fire danger risk has decreased across much of the state due to rainfall over the past 30 days. Keetch-Byram drought indices (KBDI) currently range from <50 to 500 across the state with the highest values across portions of Jefferson, Shelby, Bibb and Tuscaloosa counties. Values between 300 and 400 can be found across portions of St. Clair, Cherokee, Cleburne, Sumter and Choctaw counties. Values above 500 indicate a severe fire danger.
While the statewide burn ban has been rescinded, there remains concern that many pine trees could still die due to the drought. The state forester continues to urge people that are doing any outside burning to follow safety precautions such as not leaving any fire unattended and having the proper equipment and personnel to control the fire.
Since October 1st, over 2,260 wildfires have occurred over Alabama, and over 29,800 acres have burned. At this time any lingering wildfires are contained according to the Alabama forestry commission.
Hydrologic Summary And Outlook
USGS stream gage data indicates that below normal stream flows are occurring across much of central Alabama while near or at normal stream flows are being measured across far North Alabama, along with across roughly the southern third of the state. Periodic rainfall will need to occur for stream flows to return to normal or better levels across the central portion of the state.
Pools have been near their normal winter levels at most major reservoirs. Voluntary and mandatory water restrictions have been implemented by many water boards across Central Alabama and are still in effect in some areas.