Archive for December 2nd, 2012
At 2 pm CST, temperatures across all of North and Central Alabama had reached values above 70 degrees. Tuscaloosa was once again one of the warmer spots at 74 degrees.
While there are signs in the long term, that is, beyond 7 days, that the weather pattern may change to something much colder, we are still in for about a week of mild, dare I say warm, weather. The 30-year average high for Central Alabama based on data at the Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport places the seasonal high at 60 degrees. So we are running about 10 to 15 degrees above values typically expected in early December.
Looks like we should see some rain late Tuesday and early Wednesday across much of the area with the passage of a cold front and an associated weakening line of showers. Rain chances should be the best from about 7 pm on Tuesday evening through around 6 am on Wednesday. Rainfall amounts are not expected to be very high with most spots receiving about a quarter of an inch, perhaps as much as a half inch for areas in the northwestern quadrant of the state.
While we will cool down a little, temperatures are expected to remain above seasonal values through next weekend.
I hear this often.
When it is going to turn cold, and “stay cold”?
The answer in Alabama is “never”.
We are a low latitude state much closer to the equator than the pole, and our winter here should be relatively mild. The coldest part of the winter, based on data going back over 100 years, is between January 7 and January 18 when the average high is 52 and the average low is 32. Interesting to note the average high never goes below 50, and it never goes below freezing.
But, many say “I can remember winters when it stayed cold all the time and snowed a bunch.” No, not here.
We tend to have selective memories. Old folks (my age or older) like to talk about all the snow and cold in the 1950s and 1960s in Alabama. Yes, we had plenty of good snaps and snow events, but the truth is we had lots of warm weather too. On Christmas Eve in 1964, the high in Birmingham was 77 degrees. People were having backyard cookouts in shorts to celebrate the arrival of Santa.
Birmingham’s warmest December temperature, 80 degrees, was recorded on December 7, 1951. Generally speaking, our two warmest decades on record here are the 1930s and the 1950s.
Other monthly record highs during winter, and the years…
JANUARY: 81 degrees… recorded January 10, 1949
FEBRUARY: 83 degrees… recorded on February 8, 1918… February 13, 1962, and February 23, 1996
For the three months in meteorological winter… Alabama’s warmest (based on average highs) came in…
So, yes, warm spells are not unusual, and to be expected around here.
And, it is interesting to note that we can (and usually do) warm up in a hurry, even after historical cold waves.
On January 11, 1982, we dropped to -1 (F) in Birmingham, with a crippling ice storm to follow. But, on January 19, just 8 days later, we soared to a record high of 76 degrees. Everybody remembers the cold, but few remember the warmth.
So… if you are looking for lost lasting cold, best best is to head north. Northway, Alaska dropped to -47 (F) this morning, and they won’t be warming up much anytime soon!
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The weather pattern for Central Alabama remains mostly unchanged as the main storm track remains well to our north and we remain under weak ridging aloft. This will result in some passing clouds and warm afternoons through Tuesday with highs in the lower 70s, about 10 to 12 degrees above where we typically are for early December. Morning lows will also be about 10 degrees above climatology with values around 50.
A strong short wave traveling across the Ohio River Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday will drag a cold front into and through Central Alabama Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. Still looks like the best chance for some rain for us will come between about 6 pm on Tuesday and 6 am on Wednesday. While we really could use some rain, it appears the amounts are likely to be relatively light with most locations getting one quarter of an inch of rain with spots seeing as much as about half an inch.
The weather improves on Wednesday with a slight cool down as highs drop back to the mid 60s and lows drop into the 40s. The nearly zonal flow will continue through the end of the week and into the weekend which means a very slow warm up. By Friday, another short wave is likely to drag a weak front into our area, but the front is expected to become parallel to the flow aloft meaning it is likely to stall or wash out in the area. This could result in isolated daily showers for the weekend, but certainly not expected to be any kind of wholesale washout.
SPC has not outlooked any areas for risk of severe storms for the next several days. And the National Hurricane Center is still issuing special tropical weather outlooks on the large cloud mass in the Central Atlantic. Not much change in the system though there is still some potential for storm formation to occur. Nobody has informed that cloud mass that the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season ended on Friday!!
Long range GFS projections continue to point to a fairly substantial cool down around the 11th continuing to the middle of the month. While the pattern has changed a bit, the overall trend of a colder pattern is still there along with potential for a good rain event. We’ll keep watching and see how it shapes up.
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I had a great time narrating the 42nd annual Helena Christmas Parade yesterday. The weather was ideal with lots of sun and temperatures around 70 for the parade. And lots of people lined Helena Road (261) for the numerous floats and marching groups. Already looking forward to the 43rd parade next year.
I’m happy to be filling in once again for Ashley Brand. She had her baby on Friday, so will be out for December and some of January, so I’ll be handling the weekend weather duties until she returns. Mother and baby are doing well. Enjoy the mild weather and Godspeed.