Archive for November 11th, 2012

Rain Inching Closer – Mild Weather Ending

| November 11, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

At 9:45 pm, the cold front that we expect to move through Alabama tomorrow was located just west of the Mississippi River at Memphis, TN. The front along with the showers and thunderstorms just ahead of the front was moving just a bit faster than previous forecasts indicated. It appears now that showers and embedded thunderstorms are likely to reach a line from Huntsville to Tuscaloosa by daybreak on Monday. This is not terribly much faster but at least a smidge faster than I described on the morning Weather Xtreme Video.

Here is the radar around 9:45 pm from Columbus, MS.

Columbus WSR-88D

Columbus WSR-88D Radar

Interesting temperature change across the front. Just before 10 pm, it was 65 at Birmingham, 69 at Tupelo, 64 with rain at Memphis, 52 at Batesville, AR, and 39 at Harrison, AR. Going further northwest it was in the mid and upper 20s across Kansas. Brrrrr ! ! !

Tomorrow is likely to be one of those days where the temperature does not change much during the day, and might actually fall. Our high is likely to come at midnight, probably the lower 60s. By sunrise or shortly after we should see the rain reach Birmingham with temperatures for the morning and afternoon in the 50s, probably falling. Our low will probably come just before midnight around 40 degrees or so.


Last NWS Graduate Storm Spotter Training This Thursday

| November 11, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

Our friend Scott Unger from the National Weather Service wanted us to extend a last minute invitation to his final  online severe weather training session of the fall this Thursday night at 6 p.m. 

You can do the training from the comfort of your arm chair since it is computer based! 

Get more information and register here:

The Great Blue Norther of 11/11/11

| November 11, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

It starts as a wisp of white cloud on the horizon of a blue sky. A thin line of blue-gray storm clouds soon fills the northern sky, racing southward. Texans know a blue norther is on the way.

Texans will tell you that everything in Texas is bigger, even their cold fronts. The powerful cold waves sweep southward out of the Texas Panhandle, causing dramatic drops in temperature. A true blue norther is an impressive phenomenon. They happen when intense cold high pressure builds up over Canada and spills rapidly southward across the treeless Plains. With no mountains to impede them, the fronts surge southward at speeds of up to 70 mph and higher.

The rapidly -moving line of dark blue and gray storm clouds soon overspreads the entire sky, followed by fits of rain and an increasing wind. Behind the front, winds turn around to the north and the temperature drops quickly.

The origin of the term “blue norther” is unclear. It may stem from the blue skies and extreme cold that typically follow the fast moving fronts. Another explanation is that the name comes from the blue-black line of storm clouds that races in advance of the cold wave. Some say it is because the cold airmass turns people blue.

On this date in 1911, one of the most powerful “blue northers” in American history was sweeping south across the Plains. The temperature contrasts across the front were incredible. Kansas City, Missouri recorded a temperature of 68 degrees while less than four hundred miles away, the temperature at North Platte, Nebraska, was only 4 degrees above zero at the same time.

Kansas city recorded a high temperature for the day of 76 by late morning, but the temperature then began to drop and it was snowing by early afternoon. By midnight the temperature was 11 above zero. Oklahoma City recorded a record high (83) and a record low (17) on the same day. At Independence, Kansas the temperature dropped from 83 to 33 degrees in one hour!

An F4 tornado killed 9 and injured 50 in Janesville, Wisconsin. An hour after the tornado, survivors were digging through the rubble in zero degree temperatures and blizzard conditions.

Follow my weather history tweets on Twitter. I am @wxhistorian at

Severe Weather Alerts to Our West

| November 11, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

Click image to enlarge

Thunderstorms have broken out no this Sunday, as expected, over the Arklatex.  A line of storms showing some broekn supercell tendencies extends from Tyler, TX to north of Texarkana, AR/TX.

There is one small severe thunderstorm warning in southwestern Arkansas for a storm southwest of Arkadelphia. On the inset map in the middle left of the graphic, the SimuAWIPS system shows the counties affected by the warning that goes until 2:30.

The SPC has much of Arkansas, southeastern Oklahoma, northeastern Texas and northwestern Louisiana in their standard risk forecast for severe storms overnight. There is decent low level shear just ahead of the line. so there is a tornado watch in effect until 8 p.m. CST for the counties in red in the lower left hand side graphic. Click on the image to enlarge it, as always in your browser.

You can see the front in the top left graphic, extending from northwestern Arkansas into northeastern Texas. That inset also shows the slight risk severe weather outlook issued by the SPC.

It is quite windy over Alabama. Winds are averaging 10-20 mph and gusting to 25-30 mph at times. With all the leaves lying around, the wind is making quite a racket! Temperatures range from 68F at Anniston to 74F at Tuscaloosa. There is more sunshine on the western side of the state as there is a thick patch of clouds over eastern sections. it will push into Georgia shortly. But clouds will thicken overnight across the entire areas as temperatures fall back into themiddle and upper 50s.

The line of showers and storms will reach northwestern Alabama around 7 a.m. and showers and some thunder will continue to push into western sections of the state all morning. But the entire line should be weakening as it enters the state so no severe weather is expected. Can’t rule out a warning or two as you know, because we always expect the unexpected, but no major problems are anticipated. Showers and some thunder is likely tomorrow mainly during the morning, ending from the west by afternoon.

Expect about one half inch of rain with this system on average.

Highs tomorrow will come in the early morning as temperatures fall behind the front. Readings will be in the lower 50s by afternoon over the I-59 corridor and pointts northwest with fall temps to the southeast as well as the front goes by.

1940’s Armistice Day Blizzard

| November 11, 2012 @ 11:00 am

Monday, November 11, 1940 was Armistice Day, the remembrance of the symbolic end of World War I.  On the 22nd anniversary of the end of the war, two of the Allied powers were not at peace.  France was under Nazi occupation and Britain was under air siege by the German Luftwaffe.  Newspaper headlines in the U.S. recounted President Franklin Roosevelt’s Armistice Day message, which denounced the world’s dictators.  A small story buried inside most papers told of new Japanese demands.  It would not be long until America was drawn into the conflict.

Across the Upper Midwest, temperatures had been well above normal through the first weeks of fall.  On the morning of the 11th, temperatures were in the fifties across the area, well above normal for the season.  At 7:30 in the morning, the temperature at Chicago was 55F.  It was 54F in Davenport, Iowa.  Highs the day before had been in the 50s and 60s across the entire region.  Hunters took advantage of the holiday and  the extremely mild weather to take to lakes and rivers across Minnesota and Iowa.  They were to be rewarded with an overabundance of waterfowl.  Many would later comment that they had never see so many birds.  The birds knew something most of the hunters didn’t.  They were getting out of the way of the approaching storm.

Weather forecasting was not a very reliable thing in 1940. There were no winter storm watches or blizzard warnings.   The Weather Bureau did post a moderate Cold Wave Warning on the morning of the 12th, but Forecasts were only calling  for a change to colder with snow flurries.

But all it took was one look at a home barometer to know something was up.  The needle was nearly off the dial at places like Des Moines, where the pressure stood at 29.09 inches.  At Charles City, Iowa, it bottomed out at 28.92. While it was 54F at Davenport, Iowa, it was 12F at Sioux City on the other side of the state.

Something bad was in store.  A perfect storm was brewing, with warm Gulf air racing into the vortex, where it mixed with extremely cold Canadian air.  The Weather Bureau office in Chicago, however, was not staffed at night.  So no one saw the rapidly exploding storm.

As hunters sat in blinds or in their boats, a line of dark clouds approached from the west.  It began to rain and the wind began to roar.  The temperature dropped like a rock and  the rain quickly changed to snow.  The mercury would fall forty degrees in just a few hours from the 50s to the single digits.  The snow fell with a vengeance.  Blizzard conditions rapidly developed.

When it was all said and done, 26.6 inches of snow had fallen at Collegeville, Minnesota.  Furious winds up to 60 mph whipped the heavy snowfall into drift twenty feet high.  A total of 154 people perished in the terrible storm.  Over twenty were hunters who froze to death when they found themselves trapped in the onslaught of the ferocious storm.

The U.S. Weather Bureau was roundly criticized after the disaster.  Congressional inquiries would lead to significant changes, including offices that were staffed full time.

Mild Today, Colder Monday with Storms

| November 11, 2012 @ 7:14 am

An all new edition of the ABC 33/40 Weather Xtreme video is available in the player on the right sidebar of the blog. You can subscribe to the Weather Xtreme video on iTunes by clicking here.

Yesterday was a beautiful day with a high in Birmingham of 71, 3 degrees above the 30-year average high for the date. So if you liked yesterday, you should love today, too, as we see plenty of sun with a high again into the lower 70s. But there is a change lurking off to the west.

A strong cold front was located in the Central Plains states along with a very deep trough over the Rockies. The trough is ejecting eastward which should push the front through Alabama on Monday. Clouds will increase today though we should see a good deal of sun. I expect to see the showers and thunderstorms just ahead of the front entering the northwest corner of the state around 12Z or 6 am. The front should move steadily through Alabama during the day with much of the showers and thunderstorms east of Birmingham by 6 pm. As we noted yesterday, it appears that the threat of severe weather is very limited thanks primarily to any real instability. CAPE values are low and LIs are nothing to write home about. So while we could see some lightning, the severe weather threat seems minimal. SPC has a slight risk area over Arkansas, Northeast Texas, and northern Louisiana today, but no organized severe weather for Monday.

Also with the front moving through the state, I expect our high on Monday to come between midnight and 8 am or so, with temperatures steady or falling much of the rest of the day.

Tuesday the weather improves as early morning clouds dissipate and sunshine returns. Patchy frost will occur Tuesday morning and perhaps again on Wednesday morning. There is a small concern in the forecast thinking. Wednesday we will see a weak short wave move through the upper flow, and we should see an easterly flow at the surface. That easterly flow could bring some moisture to Alabama from the east, so clouds and some small chance for light rain are possible. I think this scenario will occur for the eastern counties of Alabama, but it is hard to say how far west these conditions may reach. We’ll watch that.

Weather improves for the rest of the week even with some weak disturbances moving through the upper flow. But with no moisture to work with, those disturbances are likely to produce just a few passing clouds.

Our next reasonably good chance for rain appears to be Sunday night or Monday. Looks also like there is a chance for rain right before Thanksgiving with Thanksgiving Day seeing improving weather. The end of November appears to be mild with no really cold pattern for us to deal with.

And you can follow news and weather updates from ABC 33/40 on Twitter here. Stay in the know by following the whole gang – here’s the list…

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My heartfelt thanks to the 400 plus folks who came out to Storm Alert Xtreme yesterday. It was great to see so many people there, and I really love having a chance to talk with people about the weather. Thanks to everyone for coming and spending much of the day with us to learn about severe weather and storm spotting. James Spann should be back with the next edition of the Weather Xtreme Video bright and early on Monday morning. Have a great day and Godspeed.