Category: Winter Weather

Hurry! Go Check Your Barometer!

| January 8, 2017 @ 12:23 pm

After a cold Saturday and Saturday night that never saw the mercury go above freezing for much of the area, the ol’ thermometer is making slow but steady progress today.

At the surface, the big blob of high pressure (top left panel) extends from a center over western Kentucky down into Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. At the center of the high, the barometer is well over 1040 mb, because right now, barometers adjusted to sea level are reading over 30.75 inches or 1041 mb.

You won’t see your home barometer that high around these parts very often.

Aloft, a huge trough is along the East Coast. Northwesterly winds on the back side of that trough are bringing some high clouds into the state, that are dulling the sun and slowing the melting process.

Roads that were ice covered or slushy overnight are slowly improving, but still slick in spots. Shady areas will be the worst. Heard reports of major problems still on Clairmont on Birmingham’s Southside and Overtone Road to the east.

A wreck on I-65 SB just south of Lakeshore has the southbound lanes backed up for over a mile. You may want to avoid that area. That accident may have been ice related.

280 East out of Downtown is still very slow and US-31 coming up or down the hill by Brookwood Hospital is still a mess. US-78 is problematic from Avondale to Oporto.

I-20/59 to Tuscaloosa is in great shape according to reports, but I-20/59 through downtown is a mess.

459 appears to be in good shape except southbound in the big curve near Liberty Park.

Roads are open but please use EXTREME caution. And just stay home if you can.

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!!


Roads Still Icy in Spots; Many Churches Canceling or Delaying Services

| January 8, 2017 @ 7:55 am

Saturday was still a mess across the Birmingham metro area as well as almost all of I-20 east of the city.

The sun tried very hard to fix things, working in conjunction with plenty of dry air was sublimation. But shade and temperatures that never reached freezing conspired against the process.

Problems continued through the overnight hours and into the early morning, with most of the problems affecting I-65 south of Downtown, the Red Mountain Expressway and I-20.

Here is a look at Google Map with traffic as of 7:53 a.m. Of course, areas in orange and red probably have icy spots that are slowing people.

Many churches have wisely canceled their services or delayed them.

Things will slowly get better this morning with a good supply of sunshine. But temperatures will climb only slowly through the teens and twenties this morning, reaching freezing by noon.

And highs will only top out in the middle 30s, so there will still be problems in spots.

Be careful if you must drive.

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.


I-20 Near I-459 Closed (as of 2:00 PM)

| January 7, 2017 @ 2:08 pm

Image from ABC 33/40’s Stephen Quinn

Image from ABC 33/40’s Stephen Quinn

Alabama State Troopers say all lanes of I-20 are now closed near I-459. No timeframe for reopening.

Latest traffic map from ALGO Traffic.

Even though some travel issues are clearing up with the sun slowly melting the ice, there are still many issues near the Birmingham Metropolitan Area. Please use caution if you have to drive. If you don’t have to drive, it would be a great idea to stay off the roads until this clears. We’ll update throughout the day to see if conditions continue to improve.

Hard Freeze Warning Issued for Tonight and Sunday Morning for Central Alabama

| January 7, 2017 @ 12:23 pm

The NWS in Birmingham has issued a Hard Freeze Warning for all of Central Alabama. The NWS Mobile has a similar product all the way to the Gulf Coast.

This graphic shows the warnings issued by BMX and adjacent offices and the minimum temperatures expected tonight.

Temperatures are expected to drop to near 10F in colder locations tonight with widespread teens.

The NWS Birmingham issues Hard Freeze Warnings when temperatures are expected to drop below 20F.

Conditions Slowly Improving; Please Don’t Drive

| January 7, 2017 @ 11:26 am

Highway 280 East is completely blocked at Lakeshore Parkway.

65 SB is completely blocked at Alford Avenue. Northbound traffic is crawling.


Sun is doing its job this morning, melting the ice on area roads, but many are still icy or slushy. Hills and shady areas are still a huge problem.

Conditions are slowly improving and road closures are beginning to be lifted. Jackknifed trucks are being removed and traffic is beginning to move at some of the major chokepoints.

But officials are urging everyone to stay put for now.

All major highways in the Birmingham metro have ice on them. I-20 is a big issue, especially between I-459 and Moody and again at Cook Springs.

Stay home until the sun and dry air have a chance to do their work.

Temperatures are warming into the middle 20s in the I-20 Corridor, but it is still 19F at Cullman.

The Screaming Message: Stay Off the Roads

| January 7, 2017 @ 9:12 am

Roads are a mess across much of Central Alabama this morning.

Please stay off the roads until at least noon.

The Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport is open but many flights have been canceled or delayed. Here is a list from their website:

Stay Off Birmingham Roads Until At Least Noon

| January 7, 2017 @ 8:47 am

Hub Harvey from Shelby County EMA is begging people to stay off 280 between Chelsea and the Cahaba River.

There should be no travel in Shelby County north of Calera to Chelsea to Columbiana.

This is the scene at I-65 at Montgomery Highway in Vestavia where there are multiple trucks wrecked and jack-knifed.

The left box here shows the scene on I-20 East at between Bass Pro Shops and Moody from the 3340 Storm Chaser vehicle where traffic is completely stopped. The right side is I-65 from Valley Ave.

Don’t drive until noon in the Birmingham Metro area or in the Winter Storm Warning area.

Good Morning from the Frozen Tundra

| January 7, 2017 @ 8:06 am

809 AM… Several jackknifed tractor trailer trucks on I-459 at Liberty Park. Wreckers dispatched.
… I-20 is shut down at Bass Pro Shops in Leeds
… There are multiple accidents on I-20 from Leeds through Moody, Pell City, Riverside and Lincoln
… I-65 is completely blocked by a jack-knifed tractor trailer at Exit 252 (Montgomery Hwy)

Good morning from the frozen tundra that is Central Alabama. Just imagine hearing that with John Facenda from NFL Films of the 70s saying it.

There is live coverage from James, Charles and Meghan right now on 33/40. That coverage will go until 830 a.m.

Winter Storm Warnings continue for the pink counties. The purple counties are in a Winter Weather Advisories.

Conditions in the Winter Storm Warning area are still extremely dangerous. There are abandoned trucks and cars in many areas. The bridges are several degrees colder than the road surfaces.

Please delay your travel until noon in the Winter Storm Warning area.

In the Winter Weather Advisory area, roads are treacherous in spots.

Slips and falls will be a problem today as well, with ice on decks, steps and sidewalks. Be careful out there.

Plenty of sunshine but won’t get above freezing until tomorrow. So the sun will help, but there will still be icy patches through tomorrow.

We will be in the teens and some single digits tonight.

Coldest Readings Since February 2015 In Store for BHM

| January 7, 2017 @ 12:52 am

NWS Gridded Snowfall Forecasts

The precipitation is over tonight, but the roads are in terrible shape across much of the area. Most oft he wrecks have been cleared, but the roads are, especially the bridges, are impassable across the area.

Do not travel tonight or in the morning anywhere in Central Alabama.

Temperatures are crashing across the area. It is down to 23F at the BHM Airport, 21F at the Bessemer Airport, 25F at Calera and 26F at Tuscaloosa and Anniston. We are down to 19F in Haleyville and Cullman. Wind chills are running between 0F and 9F.

If we hit 19F at Birmingham tonight, it will be the coldest since January 19th last year.

If we hit the forecasted 17F tomorrow night, it will be the coldest since February 19, 2015, when it was 13F.

Lows tomorrow night will be 2-3 degrees colder.

Remember the four P’s tonight through Sunday morning: People, Plants, Pets and Pipes.

An interesting note: the GFS is predicting a low of -11 at Raleigh/Durham Sunday night. Their all time record low is -9F.

Take heart. It will be 70F by the end of next week.

Good night. We will have additional updates tomorrow.

Dang Warm Nose

| January 6, 2017 @ 10:45 pm

The warm nose that was evident all day on the upper air sounding from the NWS at the Shelby County Airport was very stubborn and never relented.

Here is the 6 p.m. Skew-T diagram that interprets the data.

Hence snow falling from aloft melted at about 2.5 miles above the earth and then refroze in really cold air below 3000 feet. If that warm nose had not been there, we would have had some nice snowfall amounts. If you’re going to suffer winter weather, it might as well be snow, I say!

But in any case, the sleet and snow mix along with a little freezing rain has made nearly all roads dangerous or impassable across Central Alabama and travel is strongly discouraged across all of the area.