Archive for December 1st, 2012
Depending where you are in the state, your drought conditions could vary substantially from someone just a few counties over. Most areas for the month of November are behind for their monthly rainfall totals, and many areas are behind for the year. In our coverage area alone, many sections from Huntsville, down to Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and into the western sections of the Black Belt are not experiencing any long term affects from drought. The rain earlier in the week was heavier and more concentrated in our western counties and tapered off quite a bit as it moved across the state. Some of our eastern counties remain in an exceptional drought and these include parts of Clay, Randolph, Tallapoosa, Chambers and Lee Counties. Much of the southeastern agricultural areas of the state of been very dry for much of the year and that has caused some issues with crop losses in that part of the state. Luckily we are moving out of the drier months of the year and into a more wet ones and hopefully the winter rains will replenish the ground moisture before the growing season starts in the spring
Much of the country has been under very calm conditions most of the week. An early week cold front brought an area of high pressure that settled in across the eastern half of the country and with it the cold air we had midweek. That high pressure has moved off the Atlantic Coast and is allowing moisture to return over the Southeast. Along with more moisture our temperatures have increased too. Very mild conditions look to hang around for several days. The strong storm system moving onto the West Coast will not affect us until Tuesday evening.
The main reason we have milder weather is that we have zonal flow across the U.S. Looking at the upper level 300mb map below, you will notice that the winds across the country are blowing mostly in a west to east direction. We have a little bit of the leftover trough along the East Coast that brought our colder weather this week. It will continue to move off the coast over the next day or so. The 300mb jet is really keeping much of the cold air bottled up in Canada and Alaska. Until we see some major dips and troughs in the jet stream, where the winds will be blowing from north to south, the cold air will not be making its way south. The forecast runs of the models, do not show any major cold air intrusion over the next seven days.
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The calendar says December which is the start to meteorological winter, but the thermometer seems to be disagreeing with the calendar as we continue to remain in a mild weather pattern. And while we will see a short cool down about the middle of the week, the next week or so appears to remain mild for us.
The upper air pattern shows us to be in a somewhat zonal flow with a slight ridging to the pattern. While this pattern changes slightly as a couple of fast moving short waves move through the flow, the result for us is essentially a mild pattern with an absence of any significant chill down.
The first of two fast moving short waves travels along the US-Canadian border from Tuesday into Wednesday. This short wave will drag a cold front into and through the area late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Moisture will gradually increase for us as the surface high moves slightly further east over the next couple of days. Based on the timing with the GFS, rain chances will increase by Tuesday afternoon across Northwest Alabama with the front passing through the state from about 8 pm Tuesday through 5 or 6 am Wednesday. Wednesday we should see improving weather with a short-lived cool down as highs did back to the lower and mid 60s – still mild for early December.
The next fast moving short wave presents itself around Friday, but this short wave does not seem to have the same southern extent as the first one. The result is that the front gets dragged into the Tennessee River Valley where it may just stall out. This could mean some shower potential for next weekend, but for now, I’m holding off on mentioning much in the way of rain chances.
Due to the fast movement of the front on Tuesday/Wednesday, it appears likely that rainfall amounts will once again be somewhat light with perhaps a half inch or so for some locations. And we could sure use some after November ended up being the eighth driest November on record for Birmingham and Central Alabama.
The long range GFS projections are suggesting a much colder scenario for the middle of December. If the GFS is right, we’ll see a long wave trough position set up over the central US which should bring some very cold weather to the US. After all, it is December, so cold is what we expect to see. We’ve seen this kind of pattern before, but this one seems to have the right feel to it and we are about due. So we’ll watch and see.
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I’m giving a shameless plug for the Helena Christmas Parade at 1 pm today. I’ll be narrating the parade at the reviewing stand in the Helena Baptist Church parking lot. The route brings the parade down 261 or Helena Road from the intersection of 16/261/52 to Old Town Helena. This results in that road being closed for a couple of hours. So be sure to come out and say hello. I hope you have a great day and Godspeed.