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Archive for February 3rd, 2013

A Nearly Invisible Cold Front

| 1:45 pm February 3, 2013

2013-02-03_13-44-51

You can’t see it on the radar.  You can’t see if on satellite.  You can’t see it in the dewpoints.  You can’t even see it in the temperatures, but you can certainly see it in the wind barbs on the weather map.  It passed Birmingham between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., and the wind vane at the Airport recognized it, shifting from a southwesterly to a northwesterly direction. 

And it has become quite breezy behind the front, with northwesterly winds averaging 15-20 mph and gusting to over 25 mph at time.

Skies are completely clear, as are radars. There is some higher low level moisture just to our north over Tennessee, and you can see it in the visible satellite, which shows a heavy deck over much of Kentucky which thins into a healthy zone of stratocumulus cloud streets which clearly display the northwesterly flow.

Believe it or not, temperatures in the I-20 corridor at 1 p.m. today weren’t a whole lot different than those of the same time yesterday. At 1 p.m. on Saturday it was 51F at Birmingham. Today, it was 56F, but it felt much more comfortable, thanks to what is a strengthening winter sun.

Everyone drops to near or just below freezing tonight.

Clouds will be on the increase tomorrow and showers will arrive tomorrow night. Areas south of Birmingham will see the higher rain chances since they will be closer to a surface low that is expected to develop and track along the Gulf Coast. Rainfall amounts will be around a tenth of an inch in the I-20 corridor, with higher amounts the further south that you go.

The Day the Music Died

| 8:30 am February 3, 2013
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Source: Wikipedia Commons

What is the greatest song of your generation? The song that made you think, or was an instrument of change? The song that defined a time period? For the era of the fifties and sixties, I would have to argue that it was the 1971 epic Ameican Pie by songwriter and singer Don McLean. If songs can be tomes, American Pie is the poster child, and eight and one half minutes.

It is filled with all sorts of lyrics that can be interpreted in different ways. Even the length is purported to have meaning. In the 70s, radio stations did not play songs longer than three minutes and thirty seconds. The song was relased as an A/B side 45 that I played to death on my stereo phonograph.

The seeds of that classic were planed on this date in 1959, “the day that the music died.” McLean wrote the song in the middle 60s and recorded it in 1971. Don McLean was a paperboy in New Rochelle, New York. As he bundled papers on the morning of February 4, 1959, he probably read the headlines about the tragic plane crash that had taken the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.

The three (probably the “trinity” referred to in Pie) were part of a traveling concert series criss-crossing t he Midwest during the winter of 1958-59. Six of long bus rides in buses with heaters that did not work properly, After their performance in Clear Lake, Iowa on February 2, 1959, Buddy Holly chartered a Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft to carry him and his band to the next gig in Moorhead, Minnesota. His band memebers included Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup and Carl Bunch. Carl did not fly since he had suffered frostbite three days earlier and was hospitalized. The Big Bopper had the flu and requested Jenning’s seat. Ritchie Valens and Allsup flipped a coin for the other seat, and Valens won the toss, but would lose his life.

The plane, piloted by 21 year old Roger Peterson took off from Mason City, Iowa in cold but decent weather at 1:05 a.m. But according to Sean Potter in an excellent article in this month’s Weatherwise magazine, he did not receive all of the weather information that he needed. A cold front was moving southeastward across North and South Dakota.

As Peterson checked the weather along the route of his flight to Fargo, North Dakota. The terminal forecast for Fargo called for snow showers, but nothing that would prevent Peterson from making the flight. He was only rated for visual flight rules. But Potter reports that Peterson was not given two important flash reports from Minneapolis and Kansas City. The first warned of areas of snow with visibilities less than 2 miles, which would be marginal VRF conditions. The report from Kansas City warned of freezing drizzle and icing over much of Iowa.

The plane crashed a few minutes after takeoff just eight miles from the field at Mason City. Everyone on the plane was killed in the crash. It was “the day the music died” in the song.

Nice Day for Central Alabama

| 7:09 am February 3, 2013

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.

If you are headed out early be aware that the fog is especially dense in places, so allow a little extra time for your trip. The fog should lift by 9 to 10 am. After that we should see a mostly sunny day across Central Alabama with afternoon highs getting into the mid and upper 50s.

Monday should be another nice day after a chilly start with clouds thickening up ahead of the next system. That system will bring rain to the area again late Monday and into Tuesday. It looks like the best chances for rain will come during the first half of Tuesday, but it appears likely that the clouds will hang in for the afternoon.

Wednesday should be a mild and sunny day with a high around 62. Typical high for early February in Central Alabama is about 56, so that will feel nice. An upper disturbance moving through the primarily zonal flow pattern aloft will develop a surface low over South Texas that is forecast to slide along the Gulf Coast Thursday. GFS and the European a tad different on this system especially in how much precipitation we are likely to get. So some showers possible Thursday, but with a fast flow in place, rain chances move out quickly. This sets the stage for a nice Friday/Saturday combination before another shot at some rain on Sunday and Monday.

Rainfall amounts both Tuesday and Thursday appear to be relatively light with a total for both days expected to be around half an inch. Rainfall likely to be more along the Gulf Coast especially with the system Thursday.

No signs of any extremely cold air for us for the coming week. And a peek into voodoo country reveals a continuation of the active weather pattern with a wet system around the 13th and another around the 18th. This last one puts us back into winter as the long wave trough position again develops over the eastern half of the country.

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)

You can catch my forecast this evening on ABC 3340 at 5 and 10 pm. Ashley Brand will be returning from leave this coming week to resume her duties next weekend. James Spann will be up first thing Monday morning with the next edition of the Weather Xtreme Video. Don’t forget to catch the Storm AlerEnjoy the day and Godspeed.

-Brian-