Archive for April 2nd, 2011
On the morning of April 2, 1974, Mr. Robert Ferry, the Meteorologist in Charge of the National Weather Service Forecast office in Birmingham received a call from Allen Pearson, Director of the National Severe Storms Forecast Center in Kansas City. Dr. Pearson started the call asking about the tornadoes that had popped through the state of Alabama the night before.
Two F2 tornadoes had produced some damage and one fatality. The first, near Huntsville, had resulted in the fatality. Another tornado had skipped across Blount County, destroying several mobile homes in a mobile home park near Oneonta. Mr. Ferry said that although things had been bad, they could have been a lot worse.
Dr. Pearson said told Mr. Ferry that if he thought the April Fools Day weather was rough, just wait until Wednesday. It was already apparent to forecasters that a massive outbreak of severe weather was likely the next day. A strong upper level trough was located over the Great Basin of the western U.S. A broad area of surface low pressure was centered over Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The central pressure was already down to 991 millibars. This dynamic low pressure system was poised to bring copious amounts of rich Gulf moisture northward.
Pearson was notifying National Weather Service Offices across a large area east of the Mississippi River that there would be a large tornado outbreak over the next two days. He asked that the field offices prepare for the potential severe weather by performing maintenance on their equipment and radars. He also asked the MICs to alert personnel that some might be asked to work extra hours or be called in to work on their off day. Preparations were made for the ATS-3 satellites to be operated in a severe weather mode the following day. Special balloon releases were set for midnight that night.
Tornado watches were posted by the evening hours across parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Severe weather reports were minimal from this opening round of weather from the powerful system. Forecasters knew trouble was brewing, but had no idea how bad it would be.
148 tornadoes occurred in 24 hours across the eastern United States, including 30 violent tornadoes. There 315 people were killed in eleven states, including 34 people that died in the town of Xenia, Ohio alone. Damage totalled $500 million.
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We get a wonderful weekend – at least weather-wise – for Central Alabama. A bit of a chilly start this morning with temperatures dipping down to near the 40-degree mark in many locations – some colder spots getting into the upper 30s. But with a nice supply of sun, I expect to see the air warm into the lower 70s for most people – so spots probably edge into the middle 70s.
With the upper ridge holding over the eastern third of the country on Sunday, we warm up even more with highs reaching the lower 80s. But look for an increase in clouds by late in the day and into the evening hours as the next system begins to come our way out of the Rockies.
A strong short wave will move quickly across the Central US on Monday bringing a cold front close to the area by midday Monday. This should make for a wet afternoon and evening Monday with rain and storms ending early Tuesday morning. Some of the storms could be strong to severe with this system. The surface low is pretty far north – well into the Great Lakes area – but the strength of the trough along with strong dynamics moving moisture well northward with a strong low level jet means we’ll have to be watching this system carefully.
With a fast flow aloft, that trough moves by quickly with opens us back up for good weather Tuesday afternoon into Thursday. But by Thursday, while we remain under a ridge, the southwesterly flow aloft will bring moisture across the area and open the possibility for isolated to scattered showers each day into the weekend. It appears, if the GFS is correct on this, that the upper systems go into a short period with little movement. The ridge stay with us through Saturday before the western US trough kicks out bringing us the potential for another wet start to the work week.
Venturing further into voodoo, the GFS does maintain a fairly fast flow along with a continual train of traveling weather systems. One could affect us Monday the 11th and again around the 16th.
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I’m visiting my daughter in Chicago where it remains fairly chilly – lows in the 20s and highs barely climbing into the 50s. Make for some brisk trips outside. I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy the great weather on tap for Central Alabama. Have a great day and Godspeed.
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