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Category: National and World

Your Weekly U.S. Drought Monitor Update

| 10:28 am April 17, 2014

Little change in the drought situation across the West. We continue to see a lot of dry areas across the Plains, Texas, the Southwest, and along the West Coast, with those exceptional drought conditions persisting in portions of California, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

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For Alabama, another soaking rain earlier this week has allowed many locations to continue to avoid abnormally dry or drought conditions.

The only part of the state that is still experiencing drought and abnormally dry conditions is in the northwestern part of the state. Moderate drought conditions are occurring in portions of Lauderdale, Colbert, and Franklin Counties, where it amounts to 1.32% of the state being affected. That is the same percentage that was being affected last week.

The abnormally dry conditions continue to impact locations in Lauderdale, Limestone, Lawrence, Colbert, and Franklin Counties. These conditions covered 3.82% of the state last week. This week, it has increased only slightly by 0.16%  to now cover 3.98% of the state.

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Click image to enlarge.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita

| 8:46 am April 11, 2014

We are still a few months away from the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which begins June 1. However, in the southern hemisphere, around Australia they are still in the tropical cyclone season for about another month.

A very dangerous and destructive storm is impacting parts of Australia currently. Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita made landfall earlier today along the northern Australia Coast in the state Queensland. Ita is a very powerful storm as maximum sustained winds were 135 knots or 155 mph with wind gusts to 165 knots or 190 mph. Looking at the system, there is no doubt that Ita is a very strong storm being fairly symmetrical, with a well-developed eye.

What always fascinates me about southern hemisphere storms is they spin backwards to what we are use to seeing in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, cyclonic flow is clockwise verses the counter-clockwise flow we see in the northern hemisphere.

rb_lalo-animated2

At 1pm EST Friday, Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita was situated over the
northwestern Coral Sea and moving south southwestwards towards the north
Queensland coast.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita is expected to shift inland during Saturday though
remain quite close to the coast. It will then most likely move southeastwards
off the southern tropical or central coast on Monday and into the Coral Sea. It
has some potential to redevelop though will be encountering a less favorable
environment and should also shift further southeast away from the east
Queensland coast.

Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast from Klotzbach/Gray

| 11:31 am April 10, 2014

Dr. Bill Gray just finished speaking at the Tropical Meteorology Conference at South Padre Island, discussing the challenges of seasonal hurricane forecasting and the precursors that they use.

He turned it over to Dr. Phil Klotzbach to announce their 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast. Here are the numbers, showing their forecast and the 30 year average (1981-2010).

KB photo

Named Storms: 9 (12.0)
Named Storm Days: 35 (60.1)

Hurricanes: 3 (6.5)
Hurricane Days: 12 (21.3)

Major Hurricanes: 1 (2.0)
Major Hurricane Days: 2 (3.9)

ACE*: 55 (92)
*ACE is Accumulated Cyclone Energy, a measurement of the wind energy expended by tropical cyclones. It is a better parameter for looking at the overall intensity of a storm or season.

NOTES
…Klotzbach credits the pending El Nino for the below average forecast.
…The Atlantic is at its coolest since 1994 as well.

ANALOGS
Some analog seasons cited:
…1957 Hurricane Aubrey killed at least 416 people in SW Louisiana
…1963 Flora killed over 7,000 people in the Caribbean
…1965 Hurricane Betsy struck Bahamas, South Florida and Louisiana
…1997 Hurricane Danny flooded Alabama coast
…2002 Lili impacted Gulf Coast

I cite the example storms from the analogs as a reminder that it only takes one story to make it a bad hurricane season. So even though a below average season is forecast, that is academic if storm hits you.

Here is the full forecast.

Tornado Warnings Back in Mississippi

| 2:30 am April 4, 2014

A line of severe thunderstorms continues to push eastward across western Mississippi, southeastern Arkansas and northern Louisiana tonight. They are prompting numerous severe thunderstorm warnings and at least three tornado warnings. No reports of actual tornadoes on the ground in the Delta counties of Mississippi yet tonight. The warnings are based on radar indications.

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

Tornado watches cover the Mississippi Valley from Central Illinois southward to Central Mississippi and Northeast Louisiana. They also curve back across southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana.

The activity over western Mississippi will arrive in western Alabama around 5 a.m.

The tornado threat has increased a bit to our west early this morning as wind shear has been increasing. But we still expect these storms to weaken after they get into Alabama toward sunrise. They won’t reach the I-59 corridor until later in the morning, between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.

The SPC continues their standard slight risk severe weather outlook through the overnight hours for the northwestern corner of the state. Then a slight risk outlook is posted for the rest of the day for the rest of Central Alabama, with the exception of the I-85 corridor.

Slight Risk for Much of Central Alabama Later Today

| 1:35 am April 4, 2014

No changes in thinking this morning on the severe weather threat.

A mesoscale convective system is pushing eastward across southern Arkansas early this morning, trailing southwestward into northern Louisiana and northeastern Texas.

The activity is still nearly four hours west of the Alabama border.

The new SPC Day One Severe Weather Outlook is out. It includes the standard slight risk for all of Central Alabama except for the I-85 corridor, and excludes Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale Counties in Northwest Alabama.

This is the outlook that goes into effect at 7 a.m. CDT:

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

It reflects the expected weakening of the storm complex to our west tonight and foretells of more development by afternoon ahead of the cold front. The afternoon storms will present the threat of damaging winds and hail, but the tornado threat will be negligible.

Here is the text of the new Day One:

…CUMBERLAND PLATEAU TO MS/AL..
EXTENSIVE CONVECTIVE OVERTURNING IS PREVALENT FROM THE LOWER OH
VALLEY TO TEXARKANA THIS MORNING. MOST OF THIS ACTIVITY SHOULD BE
ONGOING AT 12Z WITHIN A SWATH OF 50S/60S SURFACE DEW POINTS AND
SUFFICIENT DEEP-LAYER SHEAR FOR ORGANIZED LINE SEGMENTS. BUT
CONVECTION SHOULD LARGELY OUTPACE THE PLUME OF MODERATE TO STRONG
INSTABILITY W OF THE LOWER MS VALLEY. IN ADDITION…LOW-LEVEL WINDS
AND FORCING FOR ASCENT WILL SUBSIDE WITH SRN EXTENT AS THE PRIMARY
CYCLONE SHIFTS NEWD. THUS…MCS/S SHOULD BE IN A WEAKENING STATE
DURING THE LATE MORNING…BUT WITH A RISK FOR ISOLATED DAMAGING
WINDS. IN THE WAKE OF MORNING ACTIVITY WHERE POCKETS OF STRONGER
HEATING OCCUR…ISOLATED STORMS SHOULD DEVELOP ALONG THE COLD FRONT.
A MODEST COMBINATION OF SHEAR/INSTABILITY/LIFT MAY POSE A SEPARATE
/LARGELY MARGINAL/ SEVERE RISK.

Midnight Look at the Alabama Weather Situation

| 12:03 am April 4, 2014

Everything is quiet across Central and North Alabama this evening. Skies are partly to mostly cloudy with temperatures still in the lower 70s with a few upper 60s over eastern Alabama. Dewpoints are mostly in the 50s still, with some lower 60s over southwestern sections. Tuscaloosa’s dewopint was up to 60F in Tuscaloosa. A steady southerly wind is blowing at about 10 mph.

The surface low tonight is passing northeast of Kansas City. It is not impressively strong (about 1002 mb) and is pretty far away. That’s good for us.

Everything is still well west of the Mississippi River. The closest storm to western Alabama right now is 220 miles west northwest of Pickens County, over southeastern Arkansas. That storm is not severe at this time.

The main line is still back over eastern Texas into southwestern Araknsas. The NWS Shreveport has just issued a severe thunderstorm warning for several counties in southwestern Arkansas and northern Louisiana north of Shreveport. Here is the radar with warnings displayed.

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A new tornado watch is coming shortly for southern Arkansas, northern Mississippi and southwestern Tennessee. It will include Memphis, Greenville and Oxford.

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No tornado warnings are in effect nationally now.

There could be strong to severe storms overnight as the storms get into western and northwestern Alabama. The line should be weakening as it pushes into the I-59 corridor, but we will monitor them all through the night.

Here is a loop of the 4 km NAM showing the storms getting into northwestern Alabama between 4:30-5:30 a.m. with the main activity reaching western Alabama around 6:30 a.m. and then the I-59 corridor around 10 a.m.

output_N25V5a

The model shows additional development ahead of the slow moving cold front during the afternoon. The airmass will still be relatively unstable during the afternoon and some of the storms could be strong to severe. Hail and damaging winds will be possible.

The new SPC Day One Severe Weather Outlook will be out within the hour and we will post it here as soon as it is received.

Trouble in Paradise

| 4:04 pm March 29, 2014

Something you don’t see everyday…

A severe thunderstorm warning in Hawaii.

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The NWS Honolulu issued only four severe thunderstorm warnings last year and no tornado warnings.

BULLETIN – EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI
1055 AM HST SAT MAR 29 2014

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN HONOLULU HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR…
THE ISLAND OF MOLOKAI IN MAUI COUNTY

* UNTIL 1130 AM HST

* AT 1047 AM HST…RADAR SHOWED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF
PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL…AND DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60
MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED 2 MILES NORTHWEST OF KAUNAKAKAI…OR 41
MILES NORTHWEST OF KAHULUI. THIS STORM WAS MOVING EAST AT 10
MPH.

* LOCATIONS POTENTIALLY IMPACTED INCLUDE…
KAWELA AND KAUNAKAKAI.

Possible Tornado East of Orlando

| 1:40 pm March 29, 2014

A dangerous storm is east of Orlando International Airport at this hour, moving east toward Cocoa Beach.

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The most dangerous part of the storm at 1:40 is about 20 miles WSW of Cape Canaveral. It will arrive in Cocoa about 2:05 and Cape Canaveral about 2:15.

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Unstable conditions across the Florida Panhandle have set the stage for severe weather this afternoon. A tornado watch is in effect.

Here is live streaming coverage from WESH.