Archive for January 17th, 2013
Reports from WHNT in Hunstville indicate that traffic is finally flowing again. That is great news.
We have a major situation continuing tonight on I-65 in Cullman County where multiple accidents from earlier today shut down the interstate and have stranded motorists tonight. There are reports that people are running out of gas and don’t have access to food.
The Cullman Civic Center has been opened as a shelter for those stranded on the interstate.
While this situation still has to be resolved, with both lanes of the interstate still closed, there is also a threat of black ice through the overnight and into the early morning anywhere water has refrozen on roads or where slush and snow didn’t have time to melt and evaporate completely.
Please check road conditions and take care if driving late tonight through early Friday morning. Drive as if your life depends on it. It does!
It has certainly been an interesting weather day across North and Central Alabama as a powerful upper level low pressure system crossed the state.
As it did, strong dynamic cooling caused by the decreasing pressure in the atmosphere allowed temperatures aloft to become very cold. Meanwhile, a surface low advancing ahead of the upper low, was able to throw lots of moisture back into the upper lows circulation, where it cooled into snowflakes and fell over Mississippi and Alabama.
Strong mesoscale forcing allowed the system to overcome a 40+ degree ground and produced accumulating snows over much of West Central and Northwest Alabama. The cold air aloft meant temperatures dropped rapidly with height, with makes for unstable conditions. The instability led to convection. Several lightning strikes were observed and many people from Cullman County down through Walker and into Jefferson and St. Clair Counties heard thunder with the heaviest snow.
The result was a widespread 1 to 2 inch snowfall, with some 3 inch amounts reported. There will undoubtedly be a few higher amounts as well when all the reports come in.
Some folks were pleasantly surprised. Some were thoroughly disappointed. Sorry about that snow fans. You’ll get ’em next time.
All the snow is gone now. Clearing skies actually made it into eastern Alabama before dark and the stage is set for a cold night. Temperatures will drop to between 25-28F overnight. The falling mercury should reach freezing by 9-10 p.m. in most locations. This will allow slush and any standing water on roadways to freeze and become hazardous.
Some roads will be closed this evening. Check travel conditions if you must travel tonight. Roads in Cordova are closing at 7 p.m. and will remain closed until tomorrow morning.
Checking travel conditions will be imperative in the morning as well with the remaining ice around until mid-morning in spots that did not dry before the freezing conditions arrived.
Several school systems are delaying starts tomorrow morning, including Blount (3 hour delay), Oneonta (2 hour delay), Chilton (2 hour delay) and Trussville City (2 hour delay). Cullman Schools are reportedly closed for the day. All prudent moves.
We have a report that Adamsville Police have shut down their roads because of hazardous conditions.
Hoover Schools were holding buses and high school students until road conditions could be determined.
It is a slow go this afternoon for people traveling through areas where the heavy snow band dumped 1-2 inches quickly this afternoon. Be very careful if you are driving in these areas. Hills are slippery. Bridges are overpasses as well. There are numerous traffic accidents and backups.
Expect more problems late tonight when the temperature drops below freezing and freezes any slush or melted ice that remains on roadways. Dangerous patches of black ice will form tonight before midnight and remain until tomorrow morning.
Some East Alabama roads may remain slushy since the clearing won’t reach there until after sunset. This slush could freeze and make things very slippery as well.
Some schools will delay their starts in the morning. Trussville City Schools have announced a two hour delay tomorrow morning.
CORRECTION Corridor X was still having problems in some areas at late afternoon, as reported by
Corridor X, which was snowcovered earlier, is already clear thanks to the sun.
Terry Sasser reports two inches of snow in Gardendale.
2.5 inches has been reported in Bluff Park.
Our band of heavy snow is pushing into eastern Alabama after dumping some heavy snowfall amounts from the Hunsville area down through Walker, Winston, Cullman, Fayette, Tuscaloosa, Jefferson, Shelby and back into Mississippi.
Many roads are snow covered and slushy where heavier snow has fallen .
We have a report that the Hueytown FD is shutting down roads in that area. There are many reports of traffic at a standstill.
A report from our Skywatcher Terry Sasser: Hwy 31 between Finley Blvd and Fultondale is impassible. The steep ridges with the bridges won’t let vehicles gain traction. My daugher said they are sanding them now.
Marshall County is asking people to curtail travel there:
ONGOING SNOW AND SLEET HAS CAUSED MANY ROADS TO BECOME VERY
DANGEROUS…IF NOT IMPASSIBLE. THIS IS PARTICULARLY THE CASE ON
BRINDLEE MOUNTAIN…SAND MOUNTAIN AND IN THE BOAZ COMMUNITY.
This is I-65 near Exit 310 from @nvyoung on Twitter:
It started to snow a short time ago in Talladega.
Snow will spread across eastern Cullman, Blount, eastern Jefferson, Shelby, Talladega, St. Clair, Etowah Cherokee, Calhoun, CLay, Randoplh and Cleburne Counties over the next hour.
The sky is brightening already over western Alabama when clearing is following the back edge of the snow closely.
Here is the Skycam from Tuscaloosa:
Here is the visible satellite:
Conditions will improve quickly warming temps for areas that see some sunshine this afternoon. Clearing should reach the Birmingham area by 4 p.m., which will help a little with the melting.
Hopefully, things can dry out before the mercury goes below freezing later this evening. Any leftover moisture on roads will freeze tonight, setting up dangerous patches of black ice that can be deadly when encountered by unsuspecting motorists.
Anyone driving late tonight or early Friday morning needs to check road conditions before setting out and needs to exercise extreme caution where ice or slush is on roadways.
Two reports from the NWS Birmingham from the Metro:
…Adamsville [Jefferson Co, AL] law enforcement reports HEAVY RAIN of U0.00 INCH at 01:30 PM CST — snow is quickly accumulating on roadways in Adamsville. roads are becoming impassible with multiple wrecks reported.
…Vestavia Hills [Jefferson Co, AL] law enforcement reports SNOW of E1.5 INCH at 01:30 PM CST — one and a half to two inches of accumulations reported at the Vestavia PD. Roads are becoming slick due to the snow.
Jim Westland at the NWS reports 1/2 mile visibility at their office in heaviest snow of day, but traffic flying by on I-65. Folks need to slow down.
Terry Sasser reported silver dollar sized flakes between Fultondale and Gardendale a short while ago. Here is an image from his live stream about that time.
You can view his stream at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/TerrySasserLiveStream
**No afternoon Weather Xtreme video due to ongoing weather issues**
SNOW MOVES OUT LATE THIS AFTERNOON: Snow has ended in Tuscaloosa and points west, and clearing will follow rather quickly. See the visible satellite image below…
A band of heavy snow is moving through the Birmingham metro as I write this at 1:30… making the grassy areas white. This final band of heavier snow will move through Anniston and Gadsden between 3:00 and 5:00 this afternoon. The sky will become clear statewide tonight.
ACCUMULATION: Readers of the blog know I have been warning, and almost promising a surprise or two with the cold core upper low that is moving through Alabama this afternoon, which looks like this on a 500 mb chart…
We don’t have much skill in dealing with snow placement and amounts in these situations.
The clear surprise is that it looks like the heavier snow amounts will be over Northwest Alabama, as opposed to Northeast Alabama. Of course, the event isn’t over just yet, but it looks like the biggest snow totals are going to be over Tuscaloosa, Pickens, Marion, Lamar, Fayette, Winston, Cullman, and Walker Counties. Most snow totals in this region are at 2 inches, although we have seen isolated amounts to 3 inches. This is the 2-3″ heavier snow zone we expected over on the other side of the state across higher terrain.
TRAVEL: The snow came down so hard and so fast (and yes, we have had convective snow with thunder and lightning over parts of Cullman and Walker Counties) that despite temperatures in the mid 30s, snow has covered roads over Northwest Alabama. These counties have “slushy” roads right now, and accidents have been reported…
Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Lamar, Fayette, Marion, Winston, Walker, Cullman
The good news is that road conditions will improve dramatically once the snow stops over the next hour. In fact, there is a chance the sun breaks out before dawn helping to melt the snow away. But, for the next hour or two, be aware that driving is tricky in these counties; just take it slow and easy.
We understand the heavy snow band coming through Birmingham is putting down slush now over the northern part of Jefferson County, so be careful if traveling there. For most of the rest of the “snow zone”, the roads are just wet, and accumulation is light and in grassy areas.
Later tonight, temperatures will go below freezing, and any moisture that lingers will have the potential to turn into ice, and “black ice” patches are very possible, especially after 9:00. The good news is that most of the moisture will quickly evaporate; looking at roads over in Mississippi they are dry as a bone, even where heavier snow came down earlier today.
TOMORROW THROUGH SUNDAY: Finally, a string of sunny days. Highs mostly in the 50s, lows mostly in the 30s.
Global models have backed off the depth of the cold air coming in next week; highs look to be in the 40s and lows in the 20s Monday and Tuesday; coldest morning will be early Tuesday with a low in the 20-25 degree range, along with teens for the colder valleys.
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Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow…
Amateur radio operator Grady Evans relayed a reported from the Walker Alert Relay Network that Highway 5 in northern Walker County is “impassable”.
Fred Brakefield repors that Jasper PD is closing some roads.
Skywatcher Terry Sasser is streaming live on I-65 northbound at this hour heading north from Gardendale.
You can find his stream here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/TerrySasserLiveStream
Richard Viola reports heavy snow in Lake View.
Several lightning strikes have been observed in the convective band from Cullman through eastern Walker into northern Tuscaloosa County. Perhaps we might see some of that in the Birmingham metro.
three inches of snow on the ground at Berry in Fayette County.
…1.5 inches in Oakman, mostly on grassy areas, some accumulatoin on roadways.
…Light snow in Mountain Brook, accumulating on grassy areas.
…One inch of snow at Shelton State campus in Tuscaloosa.
…Two inches near West Point in Cullman County.
…Three inches near Cold Springs HS in Cullman County
…2.5 inches of snow at Noxapater MS.
SNOWBALL FIGHT ON QUAD
Isn’t snow fun in the South?
We just talked about thunder with the snow in southern Tennessee, and now it is happening in Central Alabama.
Three lightning strikes have showed up over northeastern Tuscaloosa and southern Walker Counties in the past few minutes. They are northeast of Samantha.
They are in a developing convective band of snow that is set up now from western Cullman and southeastern Winston County west of Cullman across Walker County near Jasper, into the eastern half of Tuscaloosa County from the City of Tuscaloosa eastward. It extends on into northern Bibb County.
It is rotating southeast and will affect much of the Birmingham Metro area.
The band will be accompanied by a burst of heavy snow that could dump 1 to 2 inches of snow per hour. Snowfall rates like that can overcome the relatively warm ground conditions and allow the snow to stick on roads, and especially bridges and overpasses. This will make them slushy and slippery.
It looks like the heaviest snow will track across northeastern Tuscaloosa County, around Brookwood, Vance, Coaling and Lake View, into northern Bibb around West Blocton, southwestern Jefferson County around Tannehill up to Hueytown and North Johns and into western Shelby County around Alabaster and Montevallo.
Everything has been melting in the greater Birmingham area so far as it fell because there just hasn’t been the volume of snow required to make that happen. That’s about to change with this band I think.
These strong upper lows can produce convective activity.
Two lightning flashes were seen on detection systems before noon over southern Tennessee.
This was borne out by observations from the NWS Coop Observer at Winchester TN.
Meridianville observation also reported thunder in the vicinity.
Heaviest bands of snow now making it into the Birmingham Metro. Should see several hours of heavy snow fall across much of the city. Seen some pretty descent accumulations from our western counties and that should be the norm for much of us across Central Alabama. Roads conditions will be tricky as the snow will be falling rapidly, actually faster than it will melt. During the heaviest snow fall, roads will be slick, but as soon as the snow stops falling, road conditions will improve.
Looking back to the west, the snow is tapering off in Mississippi and the back side of the snow is actually into our western counties. Conditions will begin to improve from west to east throughout the afternoon and evening.