Archive for December 12th, 2012

Slow Warming Trend Ahead

| December 12, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

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.

THIS AFTERNOON: The sky is generally partly sunny across Alabama this afternoon as a strong upper trough is passing overhead. We actually had a few sprinkles over Northwest Alabama this morning, but those have dissipated. Temperatures are mostly in the low 50s, but some places, where clouds persisted much of the day, are not out of the 40s.

Tonight will be cold again, and with the sky becoming clear many communities will see a low near freezing by daybreak tomorrow.

Tomorrow and Friday will feature a good supply of sunshine with a warming trend; we expect a high in the upper 50s tomorrow, followed by low 60s Friday.

WEEKEND SHOWERS: The next weather system to impact Alabama will bring a chance of showers this weekend. While some rain could break out during the day Saturday, seems like the best chance will come Saturday night into Sunday. A surface front will stall out before moving through, so afternoons will be pleasant with highs in the 60s both days. Rain amounts should be less than 1/2 inch through Sunday afternoon.

SUNDAY NIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY: No doubt a very significant upper trough will impact Alabama, but there are great model differences.

The reliable ECMWF (the European), shows widespread rain Sunday night across Alabama, followed by a break in the rain Monday. Then, another rain event is likely Tuesday with a deep upper low/trough right overhead. Looks like a cold rain with this solution; many North Alabama cities won’t make it out of the 40s Tuesday, and to the north a little snow is possible over Northwest Tennessee and Northeast Arkansas.

The American global model, the GFS, shows very little rain Sunday night, but brings the main upper system through here on Monday with a good soaking rain, followed by cooler and drier air Tuesday and Wednesday with a major coastal storm rolling up the East Coast.

We will side with the Euro for now in our forecast, but the confidence is not especially high with such model differences. See the Weather Xtreme video for the graphics and details.

CHRISTMAS PEEK: The GFS still looks very cold for Christmas in Alabama; the 12Z runs hints we might have a hard time getting out of the 30s, but we simply don’t know the timing of the cold air shots now. And, a couple of coastal lows tend to make for interesting times in the December 22-29 time frame. Again, spend a few minutes and watch the Weather Xtreme video for the good details and maps.

WEATHER BRAINS: Don’t forget you can listen to our weekly 90 minute netcast anytime on the web, or on iTunes. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including our meteorologists here at ABC 33/40.

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Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow….

A Severe Weather Voice Goes Silent

| December 12, 2012 @ 11:52 am

No one knows for sure how many tornado or severe thunderstorm watches and warnings he monitored, or how many hours he stayed at his post, but—in the 30-something years of being available around the clock to deal with Alabama weather—one thing is for sure.

Birmingham resident Carl Grover was a machine, relentless in his dedication to helping make sure that area residents received advance warning of approaching severe weather.

Grover, who was an amateur radio operator, spent decades volunteering as the primary liaison between central Alabama ham radio operators and the National Weather Service’s Birmingham Forecast Office.

When hams observed tornadoes, flooding, hail or other severe weather, they would tune in the Birmingham Amateur Radio Club’s 146.880 MHz repeater (a wide area coverage two-way radio system), looking for Carl. And, day or night, 2 a.m. or 2 p.m., nights, weekdays, weekends or holidays, they would find KA4JIR (Carl’s amateur radio call sign) monitoring the radio channel, waiting to take their information.

Carl would immediately call the Forecast Office and advise meteorologists, keeping them current on what storm spotters were seeing in the field.

In an era before Doppler weather radar, cell phones, camera-equipped smart phones, texting or instant messaging, the information Carl helped relay was frequently a consideration in whether the NWS issued a warning.

Sometimes, the forecasters would call Carl, asking him to find out what radio amateurs in a particular area were seeing, as part of the effort to obtain “ground truth” by verifying what radar might be indicating.

Is there actually a tornado on the ground? There were times that this was the only way forecasters could know for sure.

There is no way to know how many severe weather warnings may have been issued to protect the public, as a result of the cooperative effort Carl so frequently helped lead. Today, the work continues, but with a new generation at the controls.

Considered by many to be the father of amateur radio Skywarn communications in Birmingham, Carl passed away Sunday, December 9th. He was 86.

When severe storms threatened, it was always Carl’s voice on local amateur radio frequencies, providing operators with updates on current watches and warnings.

When it came to maintaining on-air decorum, it was Carl who gave unsuspecting radio amateurs the necessary corrections, reminding them that only important weather-related communications were appropriate. Those who deviated typically only did so once.

Carl was also a regular reporter of rain totals from his home near Eastwood Mall.

During the 1980s, as technology advanced and the Skywarn program’s value became more recognized for its life-saving potential, amateur radio operators and clubs began creating more formalized protocols on how to provide severe weather communications support more effectively.

It was also during this time that Carl and his late wife, Patsy, who also had an amateur radio license, organized Skywarn spotter classes in conjunction with the NWS. The classes took place at WVTM-TV atop Red Mountain (when James Spann was chief meteorologist and I anchored weather on the weekends) and drew radio amateurs from throughout central Alabama.

This was a valuable opportunity for training, with meteorologist Jay Shelley explaining what the Weather Service’s WSR-57 radar, based in Brent, could, and could not, see.

When the Weather Service went through a modernization in the late 1980s and 1990s, the changes affected how amateur radio operators throughout the Birmingham area would assist forecasters. To better serve the agency, Birmingham area hams formed ALERT, an organization dedicated to providing emergency communications support to the NWS upon its relocation from Birmingham to Calera as part of the modernization program.

With the shift to ALERT’s more formal operating system for handling severe weather communications, the stage could have been set for a clash between Grover’s long-held operating style and the new organization stepping in with its own rules and procedures.

Instead, Grover acted as a team player.

Operating a business out of his home helped give Carl the ability to get on the air and relay information quickly when severe weather threatened. His voice was often the first to be heard on local amateur radio frequencies when tornado, severe thunderstorm, flash flood and other watches were issued for the Birmingham area.

Once responding hams were able to get on site at the NWS to provide requested communications support, Carl would step aside and let ALERT’s operators take over. The result was a smooth and professionally run network that benefitted not just radio amateurs, but the Weather Service, other agencies and the public.

Carl is survived by three daughters and seven grand children.

“He was very dedicated,” said Ron Arant, a Shelby Co. amateur radio operator who remembers Carl providing severe weather communications during the mid 1980s. “He was somebody who had the public interest at heart.”

Slow Warming Trend Ahead

| December 12, 2012 @ 6:00 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.

COLD MORNING: Clouds are still hanging tough over most of Alabama this morning, and temperatures have not changed much all night as most places are in the 30s. Rain is falling over parts of the Florida Panhandle and the southeast tip of Alabama as a strong upper trough approaches, but that rain will be moving to the east, and up this way the sky will become partly sunny. A slow warm-up begins as we should reach the mid 50s this afternoon.

TOMORROW/FRIDAY: The warming trend continues; with a good supply of sunshine we reach the upper 50s tomorrow, and Friday’s high will be around 60. Early mornings will stay cold with lows in the low to mid 30s.

OUR WEEKEND: A storm system forms over the nation’s mid-section, and the trailing cold front will bring a chance of showers to our state. The GFS has not been very consistent on the timing; the 06Z run is back to the idea of the best chance of rain coming Saturday night into Sunday morning, but for now due to the uncertainty we will just mention a chance of showers both days, and fine tune the forecast as we get closer. Rain amounts should be light, generally under 1/2 inch. And, no strong storms. Probably no thunder.

Temperatures for the weekend should be fairly pleasant with highs in the 60s.

NEXT WEEK: The 06Z GFS is an outlier; we will depend on the 00Z GFS and the 00Z ECMWF runs for the forecast. We will leave Monday rain-free, and then bring in a cold rain on Tuesday as a very deep upper trough, perhaps even a closed cold core upper low moves right over us. Snow lovers will immediately note the critical thickness line (1000-500 mb) is near Birmingham on Tuesday, but that is primarily due to cold air aloft, and the low levels really aren’t supportive of snow here. But, some of our friends up in Tennessee and Kentucky might wind up with a few snow flakes from this.

But, we all know a cold core upper low is a weatherman’s woe, and dynamic cooling can produce some amazing weather sometimes, so we will keep an eye on it. But, again for now, we will just forecast some cold rain at times on Tuesday with a high in the 40s. Drier air arrives Wednesday with a clearing sky.

CHRISTMAS WEATHER? Nope, no skill in a specific forecast of course, but the overall pattern sure looks cold. And, perhaps unsettled. The GFS continues to show a couple of Gulf surface lows that give snow lovers some hope in the December 21-28 time frame, but we all know odds of a White Christmas around here are always small. The one we enjoyed two years ago is most likely a generational one. But, you can always dream. If you want to see the graphics and specific details, watch the Weather Xtreme video.

WEATHER BRAINS: Don’t forget you can listen to our weekly 90 minute netcast anytime on the web, or on iTunes. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including our meteorologists here at ABC 33/40.

CONNECT: You can find me on all of the major social networks…

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Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 4:00 this afternoon…. enjoy the day!