Archive for January 9th, 2013

High Honors; A Big Thank You

| January 9, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

Tonight I accepted the American Meteorological Society “Award for Broadcast Meteorology” at the AMS annual meeting in Austin, Texas. Bernie Rayno of AccuWeather snapped this shot from his table…


I also received the other major national award for a broadcast meteorologist, the National Weather Association “Broadcaster of the Year” award back in October at the NWA annual meeting in Madison, Wisconsin.

The AMS and NWA are the two professional societies for meteorologists.

As a young TV weather anchor, I never dreamed I would have a chance at winning one of these. Winning both back to back is beyond belief.

Thanks to those who nominated me, and wrote letters of support.

On April 27, 2011, 252 Alabamians died on my watch during a generational tornado outbreak. That is simply inexcusable. I thought the death toll should have been close to 30. The warnings that day were excellent, and we thought the coverage was comprehensive and reached all people groups across multiple platforms. But, so many died. Precious people. Little boys and girls, moms, dads, senior adults, people of wealth, and those with low income. The number 252 will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life.

I learned after that event I am not as good as I think, and, across the weather enterprise, we are not as good as we think. Humility is missing in our science. There is so much we don’t know, and many things we can’t do. So much to learn. We must focus on getting better, not only in the physical science aspect, but also on the social science side. All of my energy for the rest of my career will be spent on making the warning process better. That is my focus.

But, I do understand there comes a time when we celebrate the lives that were saved April 27, 2011 by the warning process. I have heard the stories, and know that many are alive today thanks to their action based on hearing an urgent tornado emergency message on ABC 33/40, through one of our radio partners, or on Twitter or Facebook. I can’t help but wonder how many went to shelter after seeing one of those 62 tornadoes on our SKYCAM network, or on a live stream by heroes in the field like John Brown, Mike Wilhelm, John Oldshue, Ben Greer, or Terry Sasser on that day.

The point of this message tonight is to thank those who support my work. The men and women in academia that teach, nurture, encourage, and train, researchers that bring remarkable technology to the table, and those that work at NOAA units like the Storm Prediction Center, or local National Weather Service offices like the ones in Birmingham and Huntsville. Many in the weather community have worked long, hard hours for many years to make the warnings better. These awards with my name on them are an extension of the work of multitudes of people.

A sincere thank you to all.

Heaviest Rain North Of Birmingham

| January 9, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

**No afternoon Weather Xtreme video today; I am on the road at the AMS annual meeting in Austin, TX; we return to the two a day schedule tomorrow**

SOAKER: Soaking rains continue over the northern third of Alabama… north of Birmingham…

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This rain will taper off later tonight as a warm front moves north.

WARM JANUARY DAYS: We are projecting highs in the 70 to 74 degree range tomorrow all the way through Sunday… our big January thaw. And, along with the warmth, the air will be very humid, and we will deal with occasional showers and storms. The rain won’t be continuous, and the sun might even peek out at times. More good news… no severe weather is expected in Alabama.

HEAVY RAIN/FLOOD THREAT? The bad news… a slow moving front could very well set up a long duration, heavy rain event for North and Central Alabama late Sunday through early next week. Rain amounts of 2-4 inches look likely, and some spots could see more than that, and we will need to watch for flash flood issues. Colder and drier air finally will push in here toward the end of next week.

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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Brian will have a new Weather Xtreme video tomorrow morning, and I will be back for the TV night shift tomorrow…

Warm and Wet

| January 9, 2013 @ 7:56 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.

We’re headed into a period of warm and wet weather for about the next week or so. All of this thanks primarily to an upper flow pattern with a deep trough over the western US and a substantial ridge over the eastern US. This keeps us in a southwesterly flow pattern that taps moisture from the Pacific and northwestern Gulf. A frontal zone will continue across the Southeast US as it comes parallel to the upper flow. The net result is a pattern that has very little change and we are in the wet/warm side of things.

The deep closed low over Mexico will eject quickly today and Thursday moving to the eastern Great Lakes area by Friday. Biggest rain days are today and Thursday, but we will stay in a pattern favorable for showers into Friday and the weekend. With the trough positioned west of us, small impulses will kick out of the main trough increasing rain chances from time to time. So expect clouds for the most part with little peeks from time to time at some sunshine.

Rainfall amounts over the next 5 days will be highs across the Lower Mississippi River Valley where 4 to 5 inches of rain could occur. While we will stay wet our rainfall totals are likely to come in between 1 and 2 inches.

Severe weather threat remains possible but marginal. There is no slight risk area. It appears likely that lapse rates will not be sufficient to support severe storms. One caveat, however, is that should temperatures and dew points climb a little higher than what is currently expected, the potential for severe weather could go higher. So we’ll keep a wary eye on the evolution of the overall weather conditions to watch for these changes.

With the frontal boundary in and near us as well as that southwesterly flow aloft, we should stay warm and wet into the first of next week. That is when we see a possible shift in the overall pattern which would mean a return to more seasonal temperatures. The pattern is forecast to become a split flow with a closed low hanging back over Mexico while the long wave trough position moves eastward. This would spell a return to colder conditions for much of the eastern half of the country. Still no real extremes, but that will be a major shocker considering that the temperatures over the weekend are expected to be nearly 20 degrees above seasonal averages. So just dropping back to the average highs and lows (53/34) from forecast values (72/58) will seem like a cold wave!

The longer range projections, referred to here as voodoo country, suggest that we will come back to the western trough/eastern ridge toward the latter part of January around the 24th. But we know how those projections that far out can change dramatically.

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…

James Spann Charles Daniel Ashley Brand
J. B. Elliott Bill Murray Brian Peters
E-Warn (AL wx watches/warnings)

I’ll be filling in for James on the newscasts on ABC 3340 at 5, 6, and 10 pm, so I hope you can tune in then. Have a great day and Godspeed.


Rain Begins; Turning Warmer

| January 9, 2013 @ 6:01 am

**Brian will be along with a full discussion and Weather Xtreme video shortly; he working the night shift for me while I am away at the AMS (American Meteorological Society) annual meeting in Austin, Texas**

Let the rain begin….

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Periods of rain are likely today across Alabama as warm front lifts northward. The big rains will be to the west, where flooding remains possible over parts of Texas and Louisiana, where flash flood watches are up.

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After today’s rain, the batch of showers and storms will arrive late tomorrow and tomorrow evening, but the best dynamic lift remains west of Alabama, and the risk of severe weather or flooding here is very small.

Warmth is also a big story; we rise into the low 70s tomorrow, and highs will remain in the low to mid 70s on Friday and over the weekend. The air will be very moist and occasional showers are possible. We will have to watch for potential for a long duration heavy rain event here early next week with a very slow moving front slicing into the moist air, but model differences make for a difficult forecast at this point.

Again, Brian will be along shortly with a fresh Weather Xtreme video and a longer discussion… stay tuned…