Category: Winter Weather
A very powerful storm system is starting to come together this afternoon over the Gulf Coast Region. It will go onto become a historic storm for the Mid-Atlantic States, with a side swath of 18-24 inch snows from the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina through Roanoke VA and up I-81 through the Shenandoah Valley. The Blue Ridge Parkway will be buried in snow.
The surface low (1006mb) is located between Vicksburg and Jackson MS. The very deep upper trough extends from Minneapolis to Kansas City to Dallas at this hour. Upper winds ahead of the trough are diverging, or spreading apart, and this leads to rising motion.
Ahead of the surface low, a stationary front extends across South Central Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. To the south of the front, temperatures are in the 60s with 70s over southern Louisiana.
The warm, moist air, aided by daytime sunshine that broke out, is combining with colder air aloft to produce moderate instability.
Thunderstorms have broken out in this warm, moist airmass and have been very organized, with significant amounts of wind shear (50-60 knots). They have been severe, with numerous reports of hail. Wind damage has been reported near Alexandria LA and near Natchez MS. The storms have been prolific hail producers as well, with numerous reports of 1-1.75 inch hail across a long swath from near De Ridder LA to near Jackson MS.
A possible tornado was reported at 430 pm in Copiah County Mississippi. A tornado watch remains in effect for much of eastern Texas, Louisiana and southern Mississippi. More tornado watches will be issued later this evening into Southwest Alabama.
Now, as the storms approach the stationary front, they become elevated, meaning that their bases are well above the surface. This means that the rotation will likely stay aloft as well, and the tornado threat should diminish. But large hail will still be a threat.
ALABAMA TIMING AND IMPACT
These storms are moving ENE at 35-40 mph. They will reach western Alabama between 730 and 830 p.m. For areas south of a line from Aliceville to Moundville to Selma and points south, the storms could produce isolated severe weather reports. Further south, south of a line from Butler to Monroeville could produce more significant severe weather. Damaging winds and hail will be the highest threats, but there is a decent chance of a tornado in Southwest Alabama in counties like Choctaw, Clarke, Monroe, Escambia, Washington, Mobile and Baldwin.
Moderate to heavy rain will start overspreading West Alabama between 7-8 p.m. and will continue until after midnight. 1 to 2 inch rainfall amounts will be widespread. There is a flash flood watch for the Tennessee Valley.
This system will explode as impressive energy aloft helps to intensify the as it makes the turn up the East Coast later tonight. The blizzard watch has been upgraded to a blizzard warning for the D.C area, where up to 25 inches could fall inside the Beltway. If that happens, it could be the 2nd biggest snowstorm in the history of our nation’s capital. It certainly looks like it will easily be a top five storm.
WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES ISSUED IN ALABAMA
As the big storms winds up and heads northeast, colder air will be drawn into Alabama and will combine with a large reservoir of leftover moisture over the southeast. The best accumulations of snow will extend across northern Tenenssee and Kentucky, wrapping back into northern North Carolina and up through West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic.
But here in Alabama, we expect ¼ to 1 inch of snow across much of North Central Alabama, with some dustings as far south as Clanton or perhaps Montgomery. The Tennessee Valley could see 2-3 inches.
The NWS in Huntsville has issued a winter weather advisory starting at noon tomorrow for their northwestern counties (Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, and Limestone) and at 6 p.m. tomorrow for their northeast counties (Cullman, De Kalb, Jackson, Madison, Marshall, and Morgan). The advisories currently go until early Saturday morning.
The NWS in Birmingham has issued winter weather advisories starting at noon tomorrow and lasting until 6 a.m. Saturday for Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Etowah, Fayette, Jefferson, Lamar, Marion, Pickens, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston Counties.
Are you a snow lover? Looking for that first snow? Well, the NOAA Climate Center has created the perfect graphic for you. That graphic, shown below, shows the historic date of the first snow. Unfortunately for those of us who like to see a good snow, much of the Southeast US does not historically see their first snow until December or January. And I just love the gray dots over the Florida Peninsula showing that a snow event is too rare to analyze.
Anyone up for a field trip, say to the Rockies and a higher elevation to catch where snow has already fallen?
Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issued the U.S. Winter Outlook covering the period from December, 2015, through February, 2016. The forecast favors cooler and wetter weather across much of the Southern Tier states with above-average temperatures most likely in the West and across Northern Tier states. This year’s El Niño, among the strongest on record and strongest since 1997-98, is expected to influence weather and climate patterns this winter by impacting the position of the Pacific jet stream.
Mike Halpert, Deputy Director of NOAA’s CPC, can be heard in the video below. Halbert noted, “A strong El Niño is in place and should exert a strong influence over our weather this winter. While temperature and precipitation impacts associated with El Niño are favored, El Niño is not the only player. Cold-air outbreaks and snow storms will likely occur at times this winter. However, the frequency, number and intensity of these events cannot be predicted on a seasonal timescale.”
Other factors that often play a role in the winter weather include the Arctic Oscillation, which influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the South and nor’easters on the East Coast, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which can impact the number of heavy rain storms in the Pacific Northwest.
Be sure to check out the video below.
It’s interesting to look back at the observations made at the Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport for the winter of 1997-1998. There were two snow events for that winter, both of them coming in December, 1997. One on December 14, 1997, in which one tenth of an inch of snow was recorded, and December 29, 1997, with snowfall of 1.60 inches. Anniston recorded 4.50 inches of snow on February 9, 1998.
It is official! Just under three inches of snow fell late this afternoon and evening at Boston’s Logan Airport, surpassing the old seasonal snowfall total.
This graphic does not yet reflect the updated total, but shows 125 years of snowfall records in Beantown.
If the GFS is right, they may increase their snowfall total even further next weekend! The model has been predicting some light snows next weekend.
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
719 PM EDT SUN MAR 15 2015
…BOSTON BREAKS ALL TIME SEASONAL SNOW RECORD…
AS OF 7PM ON MARCH 15TH…BOSTON LOGAN AIRPORT RECIEVED 108.6
INCHES OF TOTAL SEASONAL SNOWFALL. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF
107.6 INCHES FOR THE 1995-1996 WINTER SEASON.
FOR THE LATEST UPDATES…PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBPAGE AT
YOU CAN FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AT
YOU CAN FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AT
Numerous wrecks are being reported on I-459 by State Troopers on southbound I=459 at MM 27 via John Talbot on Twitter.
This is just south of the I-20 interchange, north of Grants Mill Road.
There are injuries and extraction help is being requested.
Area roads are still dangerous where freezing rain and sleet has fallen. It is still a good idea to avoid travel for now.
The freezing line continues to sink towards the southeast across Central Alabama this afternoon. Where temps have fallen to freezing, they will not be rising back above it until the middle part of tomorrow morning. Luckily, we are seeing the main area of precipitation moving off towards the southeast as well. No additional accumulations are expected north and west of this line.
With the temps only dropping the rest of today, we are not expecting much improvement in the areas that have seen the sleet and ice, as a slushy mess remains. Impacts on travel will be persist the rest of the afternoon and through the overnight periods. The greatest threat for icing will be on the elevated surfaces as well as bridges and overpasses. Travel is not recommended through the rest of today and tonight. Temperatures will continue dropping and we are expecting lower 20s and teens for much of Central Alabama by tomorrow morning.
The NWS Birmingham continues the Winter Storm Warning for Jefferson, Blount, Pickens, Tuscaloosa and Walker Counties until 3 p.m.
They have posted a Winter Weather Advisory until 6 p.m. for counties to the east, including Bibb, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Etowah, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Shely. St. CLair, Sumter and Talladega.
Sleet continues across much of the Birmingham Metro area, but will begin to taper from the west over the next hour. Exposed surface such as decks are gathering an accumulation of sleet. Roads are becoming sleet covered in some areas and slushy conditions are being reported in places like Ashville, Mountain Brook and over northeastern Jefferson County. In all areas, watch out for ice on bridges.
An area of heavier sleet over Sumter and Greene Counties will affect Hale and Marengo Counties between now and 3 p.m.
Get ready for a cold night tonight with tens over the Northwest, readings near 20F in the I-59 Corridor and lower 20s elsewhere across Central Alabama.
A band of moderate to heavy sleet is affecting many communities in a southwest to Northeast line from Sumter and Greene Counties through Tuscaloosa, Jefferson, Shelby, southern Blount, southern Etowah, St. Clair and Cherokee Counties.
It is sleeting like crazy now in places like Hoover, Bessemer, Helena and Mountain Brook.
It is 32F at the Tuscaloosa Airport, 30F at the Birmingham Airport. In fact, most of the stations in the Tuscaloosa/Birmingham areas are now at or below freezing.
Roads are just wet for now in the Birmingham/Tuscaloosa metro areas but it is beginning to accumulate on raised and exposed objects like decks.
Travel is not recommended now in the affected areas.
The temperature has reached 32F at the Birmingham International Airport and the Tuscaloosa Airport as well.
Sleet is being reported in parts of the Birmingham metro area.
Precipitation upstream is beginning to diminish, but periods of sleet and some freezing rain will affect the area from Pickens across Tuscaloosa, Jefferson and Shelby Counties over the next two hours.
Roads may become slick in areas that receive freezing rain and heavier sleet.
Reports of sleet are becoming more common across Walker and northern Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties at this hour.
In the past 15 minutes, sleet has been reported at Coker in northern Tuscaloosa County as well as in the cities of Northport and Tuscaloosa. Steady sleet is reported in downtown Tuscaloosa.
Sleet is being reported as far south as Livingston in Sumter County.
Sleet is being reported in Dora, as well as in Kimberly and Hayden. Sleet is being reported around Lake Tuscaloosa.
It was 35F at the Birmingham Airport with sleet being reported last hour, but now it is down to 34F
If you are not where you are going to be this afternoon, now would be a good time to do so in the Tuscaloosa/Birmingham area.