Archive for March 1st, 2013
Photograph by Kathy Bell, owner of kbella photography.
March marks the start of both meteorological and astronomical spring. It is definitely a time of transition in Alabama. As the days lengthen and the sun moves higher in the sky, average temperatures start to climb. The average high in Birmingham at the start of the month is 62F. By month’s end, the average daytime high is 70F. The average low at the start of the month is 39F. By March 31st, the average is 45F. The warmest it has ever been in March was 90F on March 21st, 1907, as Birmingham was in the middle of an unusual heat wave.
The coldest March reading in Birmingham history was 2F on March 14, 1993. That was the day after the 1993 blizzard, which is also remarkable for producing the city’s biggest snowfall ever, 13 inches at the Airport. The temperature generally drops to freezing or below on 6.1 days in the month. The average date of the last freeze usually occurs in mid to late March.
March is the wettest month of the year in Birmingham. On average, 6.10 inches of rain falls in the Magic City. The 15.80 inches that fell in march 1980 is the most ever recorded in the third month of the year. It occurred during a month of flooding. It rains on 11.0 days on average, which ranks third behind July at 12.4 days and January at 11.2 days.
Thunderstorms occur on 4.5 days. The months of April through August are all stormier, but March does mark the beginning of the primary severe weather season, at least in North and Central Alabama. Alabama’s deadliest tornado outbreak in history occurred on March 21, 1932.
The percentage of possible sunshine is on the increase, averaging 55% in the month, up from the 42 percent that is typical of January, but still less than the 66 percent we usually see in May and October. The sky is cloudy 41 percent of the time. It is clear 24.2 percent of the time.
March is tied with April as the windiest month of the year, with an average wind speed of 10.4 mph.
Lots of reports of snow and mixed precipitation coming in from across North and Central Alabama.
You can see from the radar that the precipitation is very, very light. It should get a little heavier late tonight and early Saturday morning as a trough of low pressure swings across the area.
Some recent reports…
…light snow reported at Good Hope in Cullman County
…@KN4TX reported flakes on the northern side of Lake Tuscaloosa
…a light sleet and snow mix being reported in Odenville
…light snow in Hazel Green
…mix of snow, sleet and rain at Trussville.
A winter weather advisory is in effect for the northern part of Central Alabama until noon Saturday. Counties included are: Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Etowah, Fayette, Jefferson, Lamar, Marion, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Winston as well as DeKalb and Jackson Counties in Northeast Alabama.
Areas in the winter weather advisory will anywhere from no snow to a dusting of snow, with areas that see heavier snow showers perhaps getting 1/2 to 1 inch of snow. The heavier amounts are more likely in the higher elevations north and east of Birmingham.
The NWS in Birmingham has issued a winter weather advisory for North-Central Alabama for tonight and tomorrow….
Scroll down for the details of the expected wintry weather this weekend….
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METEOROLOGICAL SPRING STARTS OFF COLD: Sure doesn’t feel like the first of March this afternoon Cullman is reporting only 35 degrees at mid-afternoon… Birmingham is at 43. These temperatures are well below the values printed by the computer models, and about 20 degrees below average for the first day of March in Alabama. We have had a number of reports of snow flurries over the northern third of the state over the past few hours, but nothing really significant.
SNOW SHOWERS: The NWS in Huntsville has issued a winter weather advisory for Jackson and DeKalb Counties of far Northeast Alabama, this is where around one inch of snow is likely across higher terrain, especially over 1,000 feet. Our thinking hasn’t changed much at all… snow showers are likely across the northern half of Alabama late tonight and tomorrow. The snow showers will be scattered, but they can be locally heavy and can sure make the ground white in a hurry. We expect a dusting to one-half inch on grassy areas, with the main window for snow showers coming from about midnight tonight through 6:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Generally speaking, we don’t expect any travel issues. But, early tomorrow morning temperatures will be below freezing for brief time, so watch for a few isolated slick spots where snow showers are falling. And, should there be any leftover moisture late tomorrow night a touch of black ice is possible early Sunday morning. But, strong winds should evaporate most of the standing moisture before we go below freezing.
Otherwise, tomorrow will be raw, blustery, and cold with temperatures struggling to get out of the 30s. MOS products from models are way too warm, like today. An icy north wind of 10-20 mph will make it feel even colder. Sure isn’t good baseball weather.
Sunday morning will feature a low between 22 and 27 degrees, followed by a high in the mid to upper 40s Sunday afternoon. The sky should be mostly sunny Sunday thanks to sinking air in the wake of the upper trough.
NEXT WEEK: A dynamic weather system will bring a chance of rain showers to Alabama after midnight Monday night into Tuesday. Moisture will be limited, and rain amounts should be 1/2 inch or less. Then, dynamic cooling would bring a few snow showers or flurries to North/Central Alabama Tuesday night, but for now accumulation doesn’t look likely. Wednesday will feature a clearing sky and colder temperatures.
We should note that system will have the potential to spin up a very significant nor’easter for the middle U.S. Atlantic Coast Wednesday of next week, with potential for heavy snow around Washington and Baltimore. The Ash Wednesday snow of 1962 is being kicked around as an analog, but way too early to be specific for our friends there.
We finally warm up late next week, with highs in the 60s likely one week from today (Friday March 8). See the Weather Xtreme video for more long range ideas and details.
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I had a great time today seeing kids at the Trinity Methodist CDC (Child Development Center) in Homewood, and at Wylam K-8 School in Birmingham. Lots of good action coming up on the Pepsi KIDCAM today at 5:00 and 6:00 on ABC 33/40 News. Brian Peters will have the video updates tomorrow and Sunday; my next Weather Xtreme video will be posted bright and early Monday morning by 7:00 a.m. Enjoy the weekend!
I say that tongue in cheek, since this will not be a significant snow event in any way for North or Central Alabama.
But snowflakes are flying across parts of northern Alabama and northern Georgia, so I will declare Operation Snow Watch officially in effect.
A few snow flurries have been reported near Mentone and over in Rome GA with a mix near Fort Payne earlier. Snowflakes were flying in Hackleburg and Pride AL according to reports. It was spitting snow in Oneonta according to a report on Twitter.
Within the past hour, the PING project has picked up two reports of snow from Kimestone and Madison Counties, with an ice pellets/snowflake mix out of Cullman county.
Radar is showing a few spits and sputters of snowflakes over Northwest Alabama, mainly over Franklin, Marion and Winston Counties, with more back toward Corinth MS that will be pushing into Alabama later. But these won’t cause any accumulations.
Clouds are thick across the northern half of Alabama, extending down into South Central Alabama. They will continue to thicken through the afternoon as some mid level moisture slides into the area in association with the big upper trough that is moving our way.
There is still a little bit of sun down around Auburn and over in LaGrange GA. Temperatures are in the lower 40s in the I-20 corridor at this hour, with upper 30s over the Tennessee Valley.
Any accumulations will come tonight and Saturday morning as snow showers develop in the slight instability caused by the cold temperatures with the trough moving across.
Accumulations will be small, from nothing at any to spotty dusting to 1/2 inch amounts, mainly for areas north of a line from Reform to Hoover to Wedowee. The best chance will be in the higher elevations north and east of Birmingham. Any accumulations will be on grassy areas and roads should not be a problem.
The best chance for snow in the Birmingham area should be Saturday morning between 6 and noon, mainly between 6 and 9, when the better moisture will be in the snow growth regions aloft.
As always with these kinds of events, there will be surprises. Areas that see a heavier snow shower could see a quick coating on grassy areas.
Central Alabama could see snow flurries Saturday morning as far south as the US-80 corridor.
The best chances for an inch of snow will be across southern Kentucky, extending down into Middle Tenenssee. It is snowing at Paducah and Hopkinsville KY at this hour.
Add your precipitation reports below.
Central Alabamians are pretty weather savvy. In fact, researchers who come here from other parts of the country are constantly amazed when they gauge the weather knowledge of our citizens. All of you knowledgeable individuals already act as strong influencers in your communities, helping others to understand and prepare for adverse weather.
I believe that we have a unique opportunity to leverage this enthusiasm to increase awareness and education among the general population. And the perfect platform is the local chapter of the National Weather Association. That is why the leadership of the local chapter is making a push to have the biggest NWA Chapter in the country.
Nowhere else can we establish a more diverse community of members of weather enterprise, including Government meteorologists, TV meteorologists, private sector meteorologists, Emergency Managers, Students and you to make that happen.
The Upsilon Central Alabama NWA Chapter will have three outstanding meetings in 2013 with excellent speakers and programs. There will be two nice social events and a community outreach event. The Chapter will start an annual scholarship for a deserving meteorology student and get involved in local science fair judging with an NWA award.
The Chapter will also work toward a major event next year. Either a WeatherFest or a weather symposium of national note.
Working on these activities will provide plenty of opportunities for the weather community to interface, network and collaborate in a relaxed setting. This will in turn advance understanding of each other’s roles and foster personal relationships that will come in handy when skies turn threatening.
There will be abundant opportunities to get involved in leadership on committees like Scholarship, Science Fair, Meeting Speakers, Meeting AV, Outreach, Web Page, Member Portal, Symposium Planning, and Social Media, as well as in Officer positions.
Local dues are just $25, which allows members to attend all events. Dues can be paid online with credit card or PayPal ($1.06 processing fee), or by check or cash in person at a meeting or by mail.
Join Online at http://groupspaces.com/CentralAlabamaNWAChapter/
And the Upsilon Chapter will strive to lead chapters around the country in membership at the National level. Membership in the National Weather Association provides a tremendous springboard to make a difference in the world of operational meteorology. The Upsilon Chapter knows all about it as it brought the weather world to Birmingham for the 2011 NWA Annual Meeting and won the Chapter of the Year Award last year for its efforts.
The first meeting of the year is Monday evening, March 11, 2013. It will feature a Dual-Pol Radar Class, taught by Kevin Laws, the Science and Operations Officers at the National Weather Service Birmingham. Kevin will demonstrate the exciting new features of the radar upgrades that are already in place on Central Alabama radars and are being done across the National Weather Service. All participants will receive a certificate. He will also share insights into the Birmingham office’s efforts to reduce the false alarm rate for tornado warnings.
Date: Monday, March 11, 2013
Time: Doors Open 6:00 p.m.
Meeting Starts 7:00 p.m.
Location: Vulcan Park Meeting Facility, Electra Room
Admission: FREE to paid Chapter Members, $15 for non-members
Parking: Free, with plenty of surface parking available
Food: One of Birmingham’s Best Food Trucks will be there at 6 p.m. with delicious cash and carry options
Join now: http://groupspaces.com/CentralAlabamaNWAChapter/
March came in like a lion across the South on this date in 2009 as a strong upper low spread snow across Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. After dumping over a foot of snow on western Tennessee on Saturday night, snow moved into Alabama during the early morning hours on the 1st. One to two inch amounts were common, with several amounts in the three to five inch range. The snow moved into Georgia, bringing heavy snow to the Atlanta area.
There was some confusion about whether it marked the end of an amazing snowless streak at Birmingham’s official reporting station, the Shuttlesworth – Birmingham International Airport, where two inches of snow fell. A cursory review of the records indicated that it put an end to a streak that had lasted over nine years. Even the State Climatologist’s online records indicated it had not snowed since January 28, 2000. It was going to go into the record books as a 3,319 day streak.
But not so fast my friend, as Coach Lee Corso likes to say.
The official records at the National Climate Data Center showed that It had snowed 0.1 inches at the Airport on March 8, 2008. So the counters were reset to that date instead. While the streak was not quite as long as it could have been, it still was by far the longest in the city’s history.
While the streak was a year shorter than earlier thought, Birmingham residents were generally thankful for the snow they got.
Birmingham’s longest snowless streaks
1. 2961 days 1/28/2000 until 3/7/2008
2. 2225 days 2/1/1951 until 3/6/1957
3. 1769 days 2/13/1905 until 12/18/1909
4. 1387 days 2/13/1971 until 12/1/1974
5. 1137 days 1/5/1919 until 2/15/1922
6. 1069 days 2/23/1901 until 1/28/1904
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.
Today marks the first day to meteorological spring even though the sun doesn’t officially cross into the northern hemisphere until March 20th. And it sure looks like March is off to a chilly, wintery start.
You only have to look to the upper air pattern to see why we are so cold. A big trough is being carved out over the eastern half of the country as we see a continuation of weak disturbances moving through the flow that bring new shots of cold air. Central Alabama did not get out of the 40s yesterday with highs that were about 17 degrees below seasonal values – based on the observed high at the Birmingham airport. The upper low will traverse the Southeast US during the next 36 hours of so, and with that cold core pattern we’ll see light snow and snow flurries across the northern portion of Alabama generally north of the I-20 corridor this evening into Saturday. The trough axis should go by late Saturday producing some pretty cold mornings for Sunday and Monday. Lows both mornings should dip into the 20s with some colder spots getting into the 17 to 20 range.
With a strong northerly flow aloft, Sunday remains a chilly day with highs remaining in the 40s. But thanks to the progressive pattern aloft, the upper ridge returns on Monday allowing for a slight warmup. Highs Monday should climb into the middle 50s. But with a fast flow, the next system will be taking shape just to our west with another strong upper low and a surface low which is projected to move across the Southeast US on Tuesday. Look for rain to return Monday evening into the first half of Tuesday. We chill down again on Wednesday with lows again slightly below freezing with highs finding it hard to reach 50.
Another ridge builds into the eastern US on Thursday so we should see a nice warmup for the latter part of the week and into the weekend as temperatures return to more seasonal values. Looks like the next weather system will develop over the weekend to our west giving us a mostly dry weekend before rain chances ramp up on Monday.
The long range projections continue to show a fairly fast flow with weather systems every three days or so. Rain comes on Monday the 11th and again around the 15th.
January and February have been pretty wet, but it looks like rainfall for the early days of March will be fairly light. Not much moisture with the snow event tonight and Saturday, and around a half to one inch of rain with the system on Monday and Tuesday. There does not appear to be much potential for severe weather with the Monday/Tuesday system.
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James was handling a breakfast banquet this morning, but I believe he will be cranking out another Weather Xtreme Video this afternoon. I’ll be back with the discussions on Saturday and Sunday. Godspeed.
**I am serving as the emcee of the Red Cross Heroes Breakfast this morning in Homewood… Brian Peters will be along shortly with a new Weather Xtreme video and discussion… this is just an early peek of weekend weather highlights**
Not much change in the overall thinking… very cold air settles into the state over the weekend thanks to this deep upper trough…
Snow showers are likely across the northern half of Alabama late tonight and tomorrow. They will be scattered, but some spots could see some light accumulation on grassy areas… below is the projected snow amounts from the NWS, and their map looks good to me…
We won’t get out of the 40s today, and tomorrow’s high will be only in the low 40s with an icy north wind. Tomorrow will be a windy, blustery, cold March day. And, lows will be well down in the 20s early Sunday and Monday morning.
NEXT WEEK: Showers return to Alabama on Tuesday of next week… we have seen some hint of a little snow on the back side of this one Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, but the latest GFS and ECMWF runs are drier. Below is the ECMWF look for Wednesday. Colder, but mostly dry with only flurries…
Again, thanks to Brian for covering the video and full discussion… this has been a very, very busy week. I have stops today at Trinity United Methodist Church in Homewood, and Wylam K-8 school in Birmingham… then I am on to the BJCC for live weather from an event there at 4, 5, and 6:00. I should have time to crank out an afternoon Weather Xtreme video between all of this. Enjoy the day!