Archive for December 18th, 2012

Strong Storms By Thursday Morning

| December 18, 2012 @ 2:56 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.

ONE MORE DRY DAY: As advertised, today is a delightful December day across Alabama with ample sunshine and temperatures between 58 and 61 degrees at mid-afternoon. We drop into the 38-43 degree range early tomorrow, and then dry weather holds for one more day with a partly to mostly sunny sky through the day tomorrow. The day will be a bit warmer with a high in the upper 60s.

TO THE WEST: Storms will fire tomorrow over over Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi where SPC maintains their standard “slight risk” of severe weather. And, up in the cold air, heavy snow will develop from Colorado out into the Central Plains, where blizzard warnings are up for parts of Northwest Kansas.

STORMY THURSDAY MORNING: After a close review of the new 12Z model data, there really isn’t much change in our thinking for Thursday. A classic low CAPE, high shear cold season event.

A line of strong to severe storms should sweep through Thursday morning; the main window for the storms will come from about 3:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. SPC has outlooked much of South Alabama with a “slight risk”, but I do think over the northern counties some of the storms in the line could produce strong, and maybe even damaging winds in spots. And, based on the high low level bulk shear values, a small spin-up tornado sure can’t be ruled out along the line, but the primary risk will come from straight line winds.

Rain amounts of 1/2 to 3/4 inch are likely; see the Weather Xtreme video for complete details along with all the maps and graphics.

COLD AIR BLOWS IN THURSDAY NIGHT: We expect a low in the 25-29 degree range here both Friday and Saturday morning; during the day Friday will have a hard time getting out of the 40s despite a sunny sky. The weekend will remain dry with highs in the 50s Saturday, and close to 60 Sunday.

CHRISTMAS STORMS? Both primary global models continue to show a very dynamic storm system impacting the nation next week, but the timing and details are still up for debate. The Euro (ECMWF) shows potential for strong storms here on Christmas Day, followed by the coldest air so far this season, with a high barely above freezing by December 27. But, the GFS is much slower. It suggests a cool, rainy day on Christmas, followed by warm front passage and a chance of severe weather Dec 26 into the early morning hours of Dec 27, followed by colder air, but not as cold as the Euro look.

We really need to get Thursday’s system out of here before we can really nail this down, but for those of you traveling next week be aware this system has potential to produce inclement weather over a wide part of the U.S. as it moves slowly east, including heavy snow in the cold sector of the storm. Again, take a few minutes to watch the Weather Xtreme video for the graphics, maps, and details.

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. Scroll down for the show notes on this week’s new episode we recorded last night.

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I had a great time today visiting with the 3rd graders at Elvin Hill Elementary School in Columbiana… be looking for them on the Pepsi KIDCAM Thursday at 5:00… tonight I will be live at Legacy BBQ on Highway 150 in Hoover as the annual Toys for Tots 26 hour marathon begins; we need 40,000 toys by tomorrow evening. We hope to see you there… the next Weather Xtreme video will be posted here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow….

Delightful December Day

| December 18, 2012 @ 6:19 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.

FOGGY START IN SPOTS: We should note that some dense fog has formed in some places, especially over Northwest Alabama, where temperatures have fallen into the 30s. Visibility will be pretty restricted until the fog lifts a little later this morning. Otherwise, the day will be sunny with a high near the 60 degree mark.

Tomorrow will be dry as well with a high in the upper 60s, but to the west strong to severe storms will develop late in the day, and SPC maintains their standard “slight risk” of severe weather for much of Mississippi, Arkansas, West Tennessee, and North Louisiana.

SEVERE WEATHER POTENTIAL THURSDAY MORNING: The storms to the west should form into a long squall line, or QLCS (quasi linear convective system), moving into Alabama during the pre-dawn hours Thursday. The main window for storms will come from about 3:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. SPC has roughly the southern half of Alabama in standard “slight risk” of severe weather for Thursday.

This will be a typical cool season event with very limited instability, but high shear (veering of the wind with altitude). The low level jet will be screaming (850 mb winds possibly in excess of 60 knots), and dynamic forcing looks impressive. Take a few minutes to watch the Weather Xtreme video and you will see all of the maps and charts to explain the meteorological setup for this event.

As the squall line moves through early Thursday morning, we will have potential for strong, perhaps damaging straight line wind. And, we can’t rule out the chance of a few small, spin-up tornadoes along the line, but remember providing a warning for these is difficult if not impossible, much like the December 10 EF-1 in North Birmingham. Go here to see a great report on this from the NWS in Birmingham.

Rain and storms will end from west to east during the midday hours.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: The weather turns sharply colder Thursday night with cold air coming over a fresh snow pack over the Midwest. We are projecting lows in the 20s Friday and Saturday morning, with low 30s early Sunday. These three days will be cool and dry; I don’t think we get out of the 40s Friday… then look for a high in the 50s Saturday and Sunday.

CHRISTMAS STORMS? Another very dynamic storm system will impact Alabama next week, advertised by both the GFS and the ECMWF. As you might expect this far out, there are timing differences, but the idea of a high impact storm is quite credible.

The ECMWF (Euro) solution brings the main risk of rain and storms into Alabama Christmas afternoon into Tuesday night, while the GFS holds off until the day after Christmas (Wednesday). A warm front will be moving northward through Alabama, along and south of that warm front a significant severe weather threat could develop, while north of the warm front, a cool, heavy rain event is likely. We can’t determine the warm front position a week in advance, but by the end of the week we should have a very good idea of the placement of the highest severe weather risk.

And, for travelers, we should note this has the potential to bring a huge snow event to the nation’s mid-section in the cold air northwest of the surface low. Again, take some time to watch the Weather Xtreme video with a day by day walkthrough, along with all of the maps and graphics.

Following this storm, we could very well have the coldest air so far this season. If you believe the ECMWF, we might have a hard time getting above freezing by December 27/28, with lows in the teens. It will be a very interesting week of weather for sure.

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. Scroll down for the show notes on the new episode we recorded last night.

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

Google Plus

I will be doing a weather program for the third graders at Elvin Hill Elementary School this morning… and I will kick off the 26 hour Toys for Toys final drive on ABC 33/40 News this evening at 4, 5, and 6:00 at Legacy BBQ on Highway 150 in Hoover. Please consider bringing a new, unwrapped toy by since we need an additional 40,000 toys to meet the needs of families that are struggling this Christmas. I should have time to crank out an afternoon Weather Xtreme video before I head out to the live shot; it will be posted by 3:30.

Enjoy the day!

WeatherBrains 360: Mine Boots up in 6 Seconds

| December 18, 2012 @ 4:55 am

WeatherBrains Episode 360 is now online (December 17, 2012). If you are crazy about weather, this is THE netcast audio program for you!

After encouraging his son to become a Geological Sciences major at Michigan State University (MSU), Robert Drost, our guest WeatherBrain, has paved his own way in the department. While his son has since graduated and now works as a geologist with an environmental organization, Drost has become a Ph.D. student in Julie Libarkin’s Geocognition Lab.

Bob Drost, Ph.D. Candidate, Michigan State University“I wasn’t necessarily interested in geology,” said Drost about his decision to come to MSU. “[My interests were] more on meteorology, severe weather and peoples’ interactions with weather.” However Libarkin’s lab, which studies how people perceive and understand the earth and its processes, was appealing because of its interdisciplinary features, explained Drost. Drost’s latest research has focused specifically on people’s reactions to tornado warnings. The project is multidisciplinary requiring knowledge about atmospheric science, geology, cognition, and social science.

In the fall, Drost presented his findings at the Geological Society of America’s annual conference. He will also give an oral presentation this March at the National Severe Weather Workshop Meeting. Drost is using these meetings to discuss the policy implications of his research: to create more effective severe weather warning systems.

Beyond tornado warnings, Drost is planning to expand his research to landslides, floods, earthquakes and volcanoes. A Michigan native, Drost spent 20 years working for General Motors and another six as the owner of a hobby shop and paintball store before coming to MSU. While he and his son have yet to do collaborative research, Drost said that he wouldn’t mind working on a project together in the future.

Also joining us for this episode is Dr. Jay Trobec. Jay works as Chief Meteorologist at KELO television in Sioux Falls, SD. Dr. Trobec has his undergraduate degree from St. John’s University, his Masters from Mississippi State in Geosciences, and his Ph.D. from South Dakota State University in Atmospheric, Environmental and Water Resources. He is a CCM and a CBM, and an AANG (all Around Nice Guy). Jay was on WeatherBrains Episode 254.

Other discussions in this weekly podcast include topics like:

  • Extremes: 85 at Marathon, FL, and -12 at Alamosa, CO
  • GFS and ECMWF shaping up for major Christmas storm
  • Storms today along the East Coast from New England to Florida
  • Some risk of severe storms Wednesday into Thursday across the Lower Mississippi River Valley
  • One storm coming midweek to be followed by Christmas storm
  • and more!

Our email bag officer is continuing to handle the incoming messages from our listeners.

From The Weather Center:

WeatherBrains 101: Meteorology is one of the physical sciences, so it has a number of technical terms. But besides those scientific terms, there are often some common expressions that go along with weather elements. In this episode of 101, the professor takes a look at such common name, mackerel sky.

TWIWH: Bill Murray looks back at the week of December 17th.

Listener SurveyListener Surveys: Okay, we continue to drive this topic into the ground, but we really do like to hear from you. Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to fill out the Listener Survey. The survey takes just a minute or two to complete and provides us with an opportunity to learn where you are and hear your thoughts and comments on the show. Click here to take the survey.

Web Sites from Episode 360:

Geocognition Research Lab, Michigan State Univ.

KELO-TV Sioux Falls, SD

Skydaver’s Blog

Picks of the Week:

Robert Drost – talks about weather euphemisms

Nate Johnson – On-air Met Pops Button

Brian Peters – List of Weather Gifts from Amazon

Kevin Selle – James Spann Hearts Facebook

James Spann – Google Plus

Jay Trobec – Diagnostic Model for Winter Weather

The WeatherBrains crew includes your host, James Spann, plus other notable geeks like Nate Johnson, Kevin Selle, and Brian Peters. They bring together a wealth of weather knowledge and experience for another fascinating netcast about weather. graphic

Guest contact information:

Robert Drost – drostrob at msu dot edu