Category: Severe Weather
Though the state of Alabama has already had its own Severe Weather Awareness Week, February 16-21, 2014, there is never a time when you can have too much preparedness for severe weather.
This week, March 2-8, 2014, is the annual National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This a week set aside each year to help prepare the public, government agencies, as well as public and private companies for the upcoming severe weather season. This year’s theme is, Be a Force of Nature: Take the Next Step. During National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, this year, I am taking the time to learn how to prepare for severe weather.
Being prepared to act quickly could be a matter of survival. This is especially evident during the threat of severe weather. The deadliest and most destructive tornado of 2013, an EF-5 on May 20 in Moore, Oklahoma, caused more than $2 billion in property damage. Even though severe weather was anticipated days in advance, many in the impacted areas said they did not have a plan and were caught unprepared. While spring tends to produce more tornadoes, they’re not uncommon in fall. On Nov. 17, a late season tornado outbreak that struck seven Midwestern states became the most active tornado day of 2013 with a total of 74 tornadoes.
Whether it is spring, summer, fall, or winter, severe weather can and does happen at any time, anywhere. Even though the Oklahoma tornado outbreak was forecasted for days in advance, and warning lead times for the tornado outbreak averaged nearly 20 minutes, there were still many people in the impacted areas that stated they were unprepared. Here are a few simple ways to be better prepared for severe weather.
Know Your Risk: Hurricanes, tornadoes, flash flooding, thunderstorms-every state in the United States experiences severe weather. No one can ever use this excuse and say they did not know severe weather could impact them where they live. The National Weather Service issues all watches and warnings across the U.S. and you can stay informed by visiting Weather.gov to get the latest on weather threats.
Take Action: Take the next step in severe weather preparedness by creating a family communications plan, putting an emergency kit together, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place.
Be an Example: Once you have taken action to prepare for severe weather, share your story with family and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Your preparedness story will inspire others to do the same.
Find out more about being prepared for severe weather and the Weather-Ready Nation Initiative.
A thin line of storms over Central Mississippi has triggered a couple of severe thunderstorm warnings.
Winds gusted to 63 mph at the Jackson Airport as these storms passed.
No change in thinking overnight. There is an outside chance that freezing rain will impact parts of Lamar, Fayette and Walker Counties, and a better chance that it will impact parts of Marion and Winston Counties between 4 and 9 a.m. Parts of North Alabama, including Franklin, Colbert, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison and Jackson Counties share the same threat.
I don’t have to remind you that our dynamic storm system has a warm sector, given the highs in the 70s across Alabama. It was 76F in Birmingham, 77F in Tuscaloosa and 79F in Montgomery.
The surface low tonight is over southern Arkansas as you can see in the bottom left panel of the graphic.
A line of thunderstorms has developed over western Louisiana and southern Arkansas. The SPC has mentioned a 20% chance that they might have to issue a severe thunderstorm watch ahead of it. (See the large panel on the graphic.) Instability values are low, but there wind fields are strong, so there may be a few damaging winds tonight.
You can see the upper trough over the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma in the top left penl, with shows jet stream level winds. In that same panel, you can see the associated wind maximum that is helping to unfortunately increase lift over the precipitation area behind the cold front.
Lightning is common all the way into western Tennessee. Once again, we have thundersleet and freezing rain with thunder.
We will be watching the model data that is satrting to come in and will be updating our forecast. We will have additional information here on the blog shortly for North and Central Alabama.
Back on this date in 2012, Alabama was included in a Moderate Risk severe weather outlook from the Storm Prediction Center. Parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and southern Indiana were in a rare high risk, as JB noted in this morning post.
The risks were pretty spot on. Here are the severe weather reports from March 2nd.
Shortly after JB wrote that post, tornadoes were on the ground in North Alabama, doing damage.
Morning supercells spawned six tornadoes across Limestone and Madison Counties. One followed a similar path to one of the deadliest tornadoes on April 27, 2011. In the Huntsville area, two tornadoes, including an EF2 and an EF1, damaged or destroyed 200 homes, a maximum security state prison and a high school.
When the outbreak was over the next day, an outbreak across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys produced 70 tornadoes and and killed 41 people. Hardest hit was Kentucky, where 22 died. Thirteen died in Indiana, four in Ohio and one each in Alabama and Georgia.
The town of West Liberty, Kentucky, which was nearly destroyed. The town of Marysville, IN was completely destroyed and Henryville, IN, the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Harlan Sanders, was heavily damaged. The Henryville tornado was rated as an EF-4.
March roared in like a lion on this date in 2007 across the Deep South as a powerful storm system triggered an outbreak of 56 tornadoes from Missouri and Illinois into Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida. A total of twenty people died in the storms, including 10 in Alabama. Five of the tornadoes were rated as EF-3 or EF-4.
The outbreak actually began on the 28th of February in Kansas, where an EF4 tornado was reported.
By far, the worst damage and majority of fatalities came from South Alabama and Southwest Georgia. An EF4 tornado struck a high school in Enterprise, Alabama around 1:10 p.m. Eight students and another man died in the tragedy. The fatalities occurred when a concrete wall collapsed on a group of students huddled in a hallway at the school. A controversy arose as national media outlets questioned whether school administrators should have dismissed school early, but nearly all local residents supported the decision to keep students at school.
A high risk outlook was issued early that morning and a PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) tornado watch was issued hours in advance. The National Weather Service Tallahassee issued a tornado warning a full eight minutes before the tornado struck the school.
Another devastating tornado struck the Millers Ferry area in Wilcox County here in Alabama, killing one man. That tornado also was rated as an EF4.
Just before 9:30 p.m., another tornado caused significant damage in Americus, Georgia. A hospital in Americus was heavily damaged.
A deadly tornado put an exclamation point on the day when it struck a mobile home community just north of Baker in Baker County, Georgia. Six people died in this twister, that occurred just before midnight.
The outbreak continued into the early morning hours of the 2nd in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
Here in our state, Alabama, other tornadoes touched down near Adamsville, in northern Tuscaloosa County near Samantha, in Arley in Winston County and in Fayette County. Twisters were also reported near Alabaster and in Lowndes and Montgeomery Counties.
After the outbreak, the tornado toll for the year across the United States stood at 43. That was the deadliest total observed in any year through March 1. Only 1949 was deadlier, when a deadly tornado struck Warren, AR in January killing 49.
So far this year in 2014, the death toll from tornadoes in the United States: zero.
Seems it never rains in southern California
Seems I’ve often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California
But girl don’t they warn ya
It pours, man it pours
So sang Albert Hammond in his top five 1972 hit “It Never Rains in Southern California”. Today’s weather has disproved the thesis from the first line of the chorus, but the last line is ringing true today.
Indeed, severe weather has been occurring this afternoon in an unusual place: Southern California.
A rare slight risk severe weather outlook was in effect all day along the coastal areas of southern California, including Los Angeles and San Diego. The new 01z issuance (7 p.m. CST) removed the risk area.
There have been a number of severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings issued by National Weather Service offices like San Diego, Hanford and Los Anegles (Oxnard).
In fact, a severe thunderstorm warning just expired for parts of the City of San Diego.
Here was the a regional radar showing the warning polygon at the time the warning was issued:
There have been numerous reports of flooding and debris flows over roads in that region.
A plane was moved 3 feet at the John Wayne Airport in Orange County by a microburst. There was jet bridge damage. The official ASOS at the airport recorded 35 mph. A nearby wind observation recorded 74 mph wind gust.
While the weather might, be an inconvenience to some, most folks are rejoicing at the rain, with exceptional drought affecting much of that area.
The East Mississippi Chapter of the NWA/AMS is hosting the 12th Annual Southeast SevereStorms Symposium on April 4th-5th, 2014. The symposium will be held at The Palmeiro Center on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.
Each year they feature a good mixture of topics and presentations at our symposium that both operational and broadcast meteorologists can enjoy.
Registration for attendance can be done online at nwa.org.msstate.edu anytime until April 3rd, 2014, or in person on that day. The symposium covers all forms of severe weather phenomena (flooding, severe thunderstorms, winter weather, etc.).
Abstracts are being accepted until March 14th, 2014. If you wish to present on a certain topic of interest at the symposium, please feel free to contact Hayden Nix, President of the East Mississippi Chapter of the NWA/AMS at htn25 at msstate.edu. Please make sure that 2014 Symposium is in the subject line of the email.
Weather maps on the morning of Sunday, February 23, 1975 showed a low pressure system over North Central Mississippi. The low was not very strong. At 6 a.m. that morning, the pressure in the low was only 1004 mb.
A warm, moist airmass was in place across Alabama, with temperatures across the central part of the state in the middle 60s. Dewpoints were only a degree or too lower than the air temperatures, indicating the high relative humidity. The proximity of the low, the juicy air mass and a backed, southeasterly surface wind were telltale factors that there would problems during the day.
Just across the border in Georgia, dewpoints were much lower. At Atlanta, the dewpoint was only 52F.
Tornadoes touched down in northeastern Walker County just after 12:30 p.m. Nearly an hour later, an F2 tornado moved through Jones Chapel in Cullman County, destroying four trailers and damaging 23 homes.
But the biggest story of the day was a series of tornadoes that skipped along a 15 mile path across Tuscaloosa County beginning at 12:35 p.m. The first touchdown occurred near Taylorsville. There would be a total of five touchdowns across southeastern Tuscaloosa northeastward to near Holt.
There was particularly heavy damage near I-59 and McFarland Blvd. Most of the upper floor of the Scottish Inn was torn away, killing one housekeeper.
Nearly 300 houses were damaged or destroyed, along with 30 businesses and 21 mobile homes.
Follow my weather history tweets on Twitter. I am @wxhistorian at Twitter.com.