Category: Met 101/Weather History

Weather By The Numbers: 1/19/2017

| January 19, 2017 @ 10:48 am

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.

Severe Weather
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

Central Alabama NWA Chapter Meeting With Guest Speaker Tim Marshall – Jan. 24th

| January 18, 2017 @ 11:00 am

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.

Happy New Year! January’s Infographic Is Hot Off The Press

| January 1, 2017 @ 7:08 pm

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.

Weather By The Numbers 12/19/2016

| December 19, 2016 @ 8:46 am

With how much the temperatures changed within a few hours during the passage of the cold front on Sunday, it got me interested in posting another “Weather By The Numbers.” I see why the great J.B. Elliott loved to do these. It is very interesting, and fun, to find out what is happening not only in your back yard, but across the country and the world. So here is the latest “Weather By The Numbers.”

0.32: Inches of rain that fell in Birmingham during this past weekend’s rain event.

0.47: Inches of rain that fell in Tuscaloosa during this past weekend’s rain event.

0.37: Inches of rain that fell in Anniston during this past weekend’s rain event.

2.09: Inches of rain that fell at Brookley Field in Downtown Mobile during this past weekend’s rain event, the highest recorded total from across the state.

9.21: Inches of rain that fell in Rakiraki Was, Fiji during the last 24 hours, the highest rainfall total recorded in the whole world.

76: Temperature that was reached in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, which is a new record high for December 17th. The old record of 75 was set back in 1990

80: Temperature that was reached in Dothan on Saturday, the warmest recorded in the state.

93: High temperature that was reached in McAllen, Texas on Saturday, the warmest recorded in the nation for the past week.

115: High temperature that was reached in Vioolsdrif, South Africa during the last 24 hours, the warmest recorded in the whole world.

-43: Low temperature that was reached in West Yellowstone Gateway, Montana on Saturday, the coldest recorded in the nation for the past week.

-61: Low temperature that was reached in Delyankir, Russia during the last 24 hours, the coldest recorded in the whole world.

54: Percentage of the United States that is currently covered by snow.

4.1: Average snow depth currently in the United States.

1: Number of preliminary reported tornadoes for the month of December (as of the 10th).

1046: Number of preliminary reported tornadoes for 2016 (as of December 10th).

17: Number of tornado-related fatalities for 2016 (as of December 10th).

8: Number of possible tornadoes from this past weekend’s severe weather event. (5-Mississippi, 1-Tennessee, 1-Arkansas).

December: An Introduction To Winter

| December 1, 2016 @ 10:00 am


Welcome to the month of December, considered the start of “meteorological Winter,” even though on the calendar the Winter Solstice is at 4:44 AM CST on December 21st. Its hard to believe that we are already on the 12th month of the year, and before you know it, 2017 will be here.

On average for the city of Birmingham, December ranks as the second coolest month. Average daytime highs start off at 60 degrees at the beginning of the month, and drops down to 54 degrees by New Years Eve. Average lows start the month off at 39 degrees, and finishes the month off at 34 degrees.

As far as all-time record temperatures for the month of December for the city of Birmingham, the warmest December high occurred on December 7, 1951, when the mercury reached an amazing 80 degrees in the Magic City. The coolest low ever for Birmingham was at 1 degree, and that occurred twice (12/13/1962 & 12/23/1989).

December ranks comes in at number 2 as the month that has the least amount of sunshine. The month’s 46% possible sunshine average is only beaten by January, whose average possible sunshine is at 42%. It normally rains on 10.4 days in the month, with 1 inch or more on 1.4 of those days. Snowfall average for the month is 1/10th of an inch, but one of the most memorable snowfall events in Birmingham occurred on New Years Eve in 1963, when 8 inches blanketed the city… the most ever for December.

December ranks as the seventh wettest month with an average rainfall amount of 4.47 inches for the month. The wettest December ever recorded for Birmingham was back in 1961 when 13.98 inches of rain fell. The wettest single December day on record for the Magic City was December 27, 1942, when an amazing 7.7 inches of rain drenched the city.

As you know in Central Alabama, our primary severe weather season is in the Spring during the months of March, April, and May. Most people do not realize that we also have a secondary severe weather season in the Fall, which typically runs during the months of November and December. Sometimes we are fortunate to experience a quiet season where there is little to no severe activity, but we may also see our fair share of destructive tornadoes and other severe events. During the last 66 years (from 1950 to 2015), the state of Alabama had at least one documented tornado in the month of November or December in 46 of those years, which equates to 70%.

Just within the last 14 years (not including data from November 2016), 21% (175) of all documented tornadoes (822) occurred during November and December. In that same period, 6% (18) of the tornado-related fatalities (283), and 10% (262) of the tornado-related injuries (2730) occurred in November and December. If you remove the number of fatalities from just April 27, 2011, the percentage of deaths that occurred during November and December is around 40%.

Welcome to November

| November 1, 2016 @ 10:00 am


November is considered a “transition month” between fall and winter across much of the country, and Central Alabama is no different. The heat budget is becoming more negative as the days are becoming shorter, and that makes the average temperatures drop like a rock.

At the start of the month, the average high in Birmingham is 69 degrees, while the average low is 46 degrees. By the time we reach the end of the month, the average high in Birmingham is 60 degrees, while the average low has fallen to 38 degrees. The warmest high ever recorded in November in Birmingham was at 85 degrees, and this happened on three different occasions (1998, 2000, 2003). The coolest low of 5 degrees was recorded on November 25, 1950.

The month of November rates second, just behind October, in percentage of clear skies in the Magic City. The sky is cloudy only 33% of the month. Rainfall is observed usually on 9.1 days throughout the month, with only 1.9 of those involving thunderstorms.

November is also known as the sixth wettest month of the year, so maybe the 2016 version can live up to that and help us out with the drought situation. Average rainfall for November in Birmingham is 4.85 inches. The wettest November on record for Birmingham occurred in 1948, when 15.25 inches fell in the official rain gauge. There is no average for snowfall for November, but it can happen. 1.4 inches of the white stuff fell in the city back in 1950.

Finally, November is also the start to Fall Severe Weather Season. The storm track becomes more active and precipitation totals begin to increase. Back on November 10th, 2002, during an unusually strong outbreak, 12 people were killed on a day that saw 10 tornadoes across North Alabama, with two of those rated F3. I posted an infographic along with information on Fall Severe Weather Season in Alabama. Click here to visit that post.

Today is Fall Severe Awareness Day

| October 19, 2016 @ 10:00 am


As you know in Central Alabama, our primary severe weather season is in the Spring during the months of March, April, and May. Most people do not realize that we also have a secondary severe weather season in the Fall, which typically runs during the months of November and December. Sometimes we are fortunate to experience a quiet season where there is little to no severe activity, but we may also see our fair share of destructive tornadoes and other severe events. During the last 66 years (from 1950 to 2015), the state of Alabama had at least one documented tornado in the month of November or December in 46 of those years, which equates to 70%.

Just within the last 14 years, 21% (175) of all documented tornadoes (822) occurred during November and December. In that same period, 6% (18) of the tornado-related fatalities (283), and 10% (262) of the tornado-related injuries (2730) occurred in November and December. If you remove the number of fatalities from just April 27, 2011, the percentage of deaths that occurred during November and December is around 40%.

These statistics are not used to bring you fear, but does show the need to be prepared for the Fall Severe Weather Season. Your preparation can make a difference between life and death. Here are some important tips:

  • Now is the time to check your emergency supplies and to make sure your NOAA Weather Radio, other portable radio, and flashlights have fresh batteries.
  • Regardless of the strength, ALL tornadoes should be considered dangerous and capable of producing damage and injuries.
  • Treat a Severe Thunderstorm Warning the same as you would a Tornado Warning. Most storm-related damage occurs with severe thunderstorm winds.

For more information, the NWS Birmingham has a great page dedicated to Fall Severe Weather Awareness. You can find it by clicking here.

The Many Names of Tropical Systems and What They Mean

| October 1, 2016 @ 1:17 pm


While I was attending the annual NWA Meeting in Norfolk, Virginia, back in September, one of the subjects that was brought up was the confusing names of tropical systems. No I am not talking about the human names that the systems are given, but the terms used in the different stages of the lifespan. Hermine had just recently dissipated before the trip, and that was the storm the focus was set on. During the lifespan of Hermine, it had seven different names…

Tropical Disturbance
Tropical Wave
Investigative Area (Invest 99L)
Tropical Depression
Tropical Storm
Post-Tropical Cyclone

There was a lot of confusion over what each name actually means. So here are those terms defined by the National Hurricane Center…

Tropical Disturbance:
A discrete tropical weather system of apparently organized convection, generally 100 to 300 nautical miles in diameter, originating in the tropics or subtropics, having a nonfrontal migratory character, and maintaining its identity for 24 hours or more. It may or may not be associated with a detectable perturbation of the wind field.

Tropical Wave:
A trough or cyclonic curvature maximum in the trade-wind easterlies. The wave may reach maximum amplitude in the lower middle troposphere.

Investigative Area (Invest):
A weather system for which a tropical cyclone forecast center (NHC, CPHC, or JTWC) is interested in collecting specialized data sets (e.g., microwave imagery) and/or running model guidance. Once a system has been designated as an invest, data collection and processing is initiated on a number of government and academic web sites, including the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (UW-CIMSS). The designation of a system as an invest does not correspond to any particular likelihood of development of the system into a tropical cyclone; operational products such as the Tropical Weather Outlook or the JTWC/TCFA should be consulted for this purpose.

Tropical Cyclone:
A warm-core non-frontal synoptic-scale cyclone, originating over tropical or subtropical waters, with organized deep convection and a closed surface wind circulation about a well-defined center. Once formed, a tropical cyclone is maintained by the extraction of heat energy from the ocean at high temperature and heat export at the low temperatures of the upper troposphere.

Tropical Depression:
A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 33 knots (38 mph or 62 km/hr) or less.

Tropical Storm:
A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) ranges from 34 knots (39 mph or 63 km/hr) to 63 knots (73 mph or 118 km/hr).

A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 64 knots (74 mph or 119 km/hr) or more. The term hurricane is used for Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclones east of the International Dateline to the Greenwich Meridian. The term typhoon is used for Pacific tropical cyclones north of the Equator west of the International Dateline.

Post-tropical Cyclone:
A former tropical cyclone. This generic term describes a cyclone that no longer possesses sufficient tropical characteristics to be considered a tropical cyclone. Post-tropical cyclones can continue carrying heavy rains and high winds. Note that former tropical cyclones that have become fully extratropical…as well as remnant lows…are two classes of post-tropical cyclones.

Remnant Low:
A post-tropical cyclone that no longer possesses the convective organization required of a tropical cyclone…and has maximum sustained winds of less than 34 knots.

Dancing With the Stats: September’s 90s Drawing to a Close

| September 25, 2016 @ 12:01 pm


Saturday was another extremely hot day across Central Alabama with all locations in the upper 90s and a couple of 100F readings. It was 100F at the Mercedes Plant in Vance and at Weedon Field in Eufaula. These readings are some 10-15 degrees above normal for late September.

For the second time this month, the Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport hit 98F, which was short of the record for September 24th (99F) set in 1931). Records were set for the second straight day at Anniston, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa with 97F, 98F and 99F respectively.

SUMMER WON’T QUIT: In an average year, we see 6.2 days of 90 degree heat in September in Birmingham. This year, there have been 21 and today will most certainly add another.

ABOVE NORMAL: The graphic shows the amounts average temperatures have been above “normal”, a statistical term used to smooth the jagged edges of “average” temperatures. You can see, we have certainly been above that normal curve, even on the “cooler’ days of September. In fact, we are running 6 degrees above average so far this month.

EYE OPENING STAT: In a typical June – September period, Birmingham will record 52.3 days of 90 degree heat. We will end 2016 with 91 days of 90+ degree heat. We only hit 100F this summer, so it was a season of extremes, but it was relentless.

ONE MORE DAY, ONE MORE DAY: Let me hear you: one more day… Everyone will be back into the middle and upper 90s today and many spots will hit 90F tomorrow. Will that be the last time this year? Probably not. We have registered a 90F reading as late at October 17th in Birmingham. Highs starting Tuesday will average around 80F into the weekend. Lows will be quite comfortable, with 50s each morning this week starting Wednesday.

ANY RAIN? Not much chance. The cold front that will deliver the cooler temperatures will bring scattered showers and storms tomorrow. But rainfall amounts will average one tenth of an inch.

EYE ON THE TROPICS: What will probably become Matthew is a tropical wave some 1350 miles east of the Lesser Antilles this afternoon. More on that and what might be its impact on the U.S. around 130 p.m.

Remembering Hurricane Agnes (1972)

| June 19, 2016 @ 10:00 am


On this date in 1972, Hurricane Agnes moved ashore in the Florida panhandle as a weak Category 1 storm. The highest wind reported on the Gulf Coast was a gust to just 56 mph at Apalachicola, Florida. The $10 million in damage in the Florida Panhandle was just a drop in the bucket. Hurricane Agnes would be downgraded to a tropical depression as it moved northward through Georgia and the Carolinas after landfall.

Agnes’ main damage would come two days later as the remnants of the storm brought tremendous rains and flooding to parts of the Northeast. On the 21st, the storm system emerged over the warm waters of the Atlantic and gained strength.

The storm would make landfall again in southeastern New York on the 22nd and then stall over Pennsylvania on the 23rd. The first day of summer was a wet one in eastern Pennsylvania as rains overspread the area ahead of the northward moving remnants of Hurricane Agnes. The wet storm system was expected to move out into the Atlantic Ocean, but it made an unexpected turn the next day and dumped unprecedented amounts of rain over the Susquehanna Valley.

Agnes’ torrential rains deluged parts of Pennsylvania. The state capital of Harrisburg was inundated and the governor’s mansion flooded. Nineteen inches of rain deluged Wilkes-Baare, PA, forcing the Susquehanna River over its 38 foot high dikes.

By late evening on the 22nd, Civil Defense officials in Wilkes-Baare, PA watched the rapidly rising floodwaters of the Susquehanna River. Evacuation warnings were not sounded during the night because emergency officials thought that a nighttime evacuation would be confusing. By early morning, evacuations were ordered with the river already at 33 feet and major flooding occurring. By late morning, warnings were frantic as the area’s worst natural disaster in history was underway.

At 11:14 am, sirens sounded seven short blasts indicating that the waters were breaching the dike in Wilkes-Baare. Nearly 75,000 people would evacuate in the face of the rising waters. The raging waters would flood much of the city.

Hurricane Agnes’ five-day romp through the Atlantic seaboard made the storm the costliest natural disaster in the United States at that time. Damage was estimated at $3.5 billion and 134 deaths were reported from Florida to New York. Agnes would produce more damage than all tropical cyclones in the previous six years, including Camille.

From Austin, With Love

| April 26, 2016 @ 7:00 am

This is a guest essay from a native Alabamian now living in Texas.


I didn’t sense any danger on April 27 until I tried to pry the Regions Bank door open and noticed the handwritten note – “Closed due to inclement weather.”

My mom had called that morning from her job at Children’s Hospital to warn me of the storms headed our way from Mississippi and the seriousness of the events ahead of us. I listened, but didn’t feel the need to cancel the frozen yogurt date with my future roommate I had set for later that afternoon.

I didn’t feel concern during class later that day, or at the late, celebratory lunch at Newk’s with my friend Hannah as we acknowledged our last public speaking class had finally come to an end.

But here at the campus branch of Regions Bank, a brief wave of concern hit me when I realized I needed to get serious about the impending weather headed toward us that day.

I canceled the afternoon’s roommate date and immediately called my boyfriend, Adam, who didn’t answer. He must be napping, I thought.

Growing up in Alabama, I was among those that felt fairly comfortable at the beginning of that bright, Tuscaloosa day. I had stayed up many a night in my family’s basement back in Birmingham, the neon light from our old, deep-set TV blaring as James Spann walked across the screen in a stark white button down and suspenders. I knew the drill.

Remember sitting in the hallway as kindergarteners, learning the actual tornado drill? Knees up, head down. Concrete cinder blocks against your back.

When the power went out at Adam’s Alberta apartment, I got very anxious. I wasn’t in my parents’ underground basement with our go-to, window-less spot steps away from me.

So when I felt my nervous system kicking into gear, I ran out onto the second floor, wrap-around porch at Arlington Square Apartments and observed the sky, not realizing the tornado James Spann had just spotted in downtown Tuscaloosa was only minutes from where I stood.

Thankfully, I spied a group of students running out of their house below me, headed toward a cellar door around the backside of the old, one-story building. One of them saw me and yelled, “It’s behind you!” I called out for Adam and we ran down the steep wooden steps toward our newfound, one-time-use, go-to spot.

I remember Adam trying to lock-up the apartment before we ran to join the others. Today, I find that funny.


Five years ago, April 27 began – and went – very differently for each of us. You may have been a student in class when things got serious for you, or listening to James Spann in the comfort of your go-to spot, or working through the storms with only snippets of information about the disaster that rocked our state (and much of the South) that day.

Regardless of your individual, very real experience, I believe we are all bound by the tragedy of it all. No matter if you experienced “real” loss that day, we all had our world as we knew it changed. If only by a little bit.

What I hope and wish for all of us as I reflect on that day is that each of you feel more whole today than you did five years ago. I know for some, especially those experiencing loss of a loved one, that may still seem impossible. And that’s okay.

On this poignant anniversary day, I believe it’s important to pause and reflect. Remember the moments that are forever penned in our minds. Moments of sadness, shock and fear; with moments of gratefulness, love and hope intermingled.

Being away from Alabama today is very difficult for me. Even though I am no longer a resident of Alabama the Beautiful, I carry the spirit of all of us Alabamians with me always. Being a Crimson Tide fan, I’ve always felt pride. But, after 4/27/11, I have felt a sense of connection to the state and its residents that I have never felt before. Today, I feel a great need to send my sincerest thanks to those named and nameless that touched mine and Adam’s heart that day, and in the fragile time following that somber life event.


I was always taught to send a prompt thank-you note after someone did something nice for me as a child. This one is five years late, so apologies in advance for the belatedness –

Dear Alabama,

I’m writing to thank you – and your courageous residents – for the overwhelming help you sent mine and Adam’s way five years ago. Knowing you were going through quite a rough time yourself, the sincere gestures mean the world to us.

I will try to shy away from naming any specific individuals for fear of missing a special someone, but I would like to at least call out the following groups in gratitude:

To Mr. James Spann, you saved both ours and many others’ lives five years ago. Words truly cannot express the amount of appreciation we have for you and ABC 33/40 for the in-depth coverage and preparation you gave us. Also, Texas needs you, Mr. Spann. My expectations for meteorologists have been set far too high.

To Adam’s neighbors, thank you for inviting us into your go-to spot that terrifying afternoon. You could have easily focused on the safety of yourself and your friends, but you called out to me. You were our heroes that day, and for that I am eternally thankful. I would also like to apologize for not sending this thank-you to each of you sooner.

To the deaf couple I spent most of my post-tornado moments with, thank you for reminding me what matters most in a time when we both needed it the most. I will never forget either of you, or the love you showed me. I’m so glad I was able to see you a few days after the tornado when you ventured back to the spot that forever changed our lives with your family from Florida. I hope you’re both doing well. You deserve the world.

To the first responders, you are the true heroes of April 27. I saw so many putting their own lives on the line to save another that day. And I heard of many more in the days following. I am humbled by your acts of sincere love and kindness. Thank you.

To the Crimson White, thank you for covering this important event for our university and town. Two of your best reporters were some of the first people we saw after leaving our disaster area that day, and your coverage of our story helped aide our healing process. Thank you for doing the difficult thing that day and being true journalists when some of you were suffering from loss yourselves.

To The University of Alabama and Tuscaloosa (one in the same, in my heart), thank you for treating each student as family in the days, weeks and months of recovery that year. I would like to specifically call-out the Advertising and Public Relations Department, as well as, the School of Engineering for being our places of refuge in our remaining years at UA. You treated us as normal students and made our previous dreams still a reality for us despite the setbacks felt following such a traumatic event. Thank you also to Mayor Maddox and the leadership at UA for your efforts to pull our town back together as smoothly, and thoughtfully, as possible.

To the volunteers and donors, thank you for sacrificing your time and showing us and many other strangers such generosity. Thanks to UA for setting up the UA Acts of Kindness fund that contributed to Adam’s needs not covered by FEMA. Thanks to the out-of-towners that spent their spring break helping piece together our state, too.

To the Prattville couple we never met, thank you for gathering Adam’s childhood keepsakes you found scattered around the rubble. I’ll never forget the day we drove up to the site and saw the pile neatly gathered and set aside for us to find.

To our families, thank you for the love and support you still give us as we deal with the trauma of April 27. To Adam’s family specifically, thank you for providing us a temporary home as we shuffled back and forth with your borrowed cargo van to gather remnants of our things. Thank you also for replacing Adam’s FJ Cruiser. Seeing his face lit-up with the replacement of this specific item lost still brings me much joy.

To the 2011-2012 Alabama Football team, I know we get teased for our unwavering obsession with you, but I don’t care. I truly believe you gave so many people the hope they were looking for as you soared through an incredible season and breathed life into a town hurting so deeply. I cried when we lost to LSU, and cried when we beat them in the game that counted the most.

I would also like to thank three groups of friends – the friends I abandoned, the friends that helped me piece through life immediately following 4/27/11, and the new friends that support me today. I still don’t fully know how I truly was the summer and year after April 27. I was not very aware of myself – I only knew I felt very little pleasure as I grappled with fear, guilt and depression. To my current and future roommates at the time, I apologize for straight-up abandoning you as I clung to Adam for support. I know that was not what you signed-up for and I’m sorry. To the Avanti orientation team at UA that worked with me every day that summer, I’m sorry for being the least-dedicated, emotionally numb team member. I thank you for understanding my need for space, random spouts of neediness and tears, and the low-level anger I felt every day. Thank you specifically to those that helped me in the week Adam was out of town competing with his engineering team at NASA. It’s silly to think about it now, but I truly didn’t know how to cope with being away from him that week. The day-trip to Six Flags was literally one of the happiest moments of my summer and I thank you for treating me with extra care as I had a mini-panic attack when we almost drove past Alberta on the way home to UA. To my new Austin friends, thank you for the support and encouragement. Thank you for always having an open heart when I rant about random things as I continue to struggle with doubt, anxiety and fear. Thank you especially to my therapist, Priscilla, for helping me be courageous.

Lastly, to my husband Adam, thank you for being my strength in this winding road to recovery. For turning April 27, 2012 into a day of possibility. For taking April 30, 2011 off to ensure we celebrated my birthday, even though you missed meeting the President visiting your apartment.

Roll Tide, War Eagle, etc.

Yours forever,


Jessica Melton lives in Austin, Texas and would like to send a special thank you to Taylor Holland and her entire Austin family for the encouragement and support in writing this piece.

A Tale of Two Storms from Satellite Sheldon

| April 24, 2016 @ 2:30 pm
Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

– Special to the AlabamaWX Blog by Sheldon Kusselson