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Central Alabama 7 Day Forecast

Archive for March 19th, 2013

Cooling Trend Through Mid-Week

| 3:40 pm March 19, 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.

FINE MARCH DAY: Nice to see the sun shining brightly across Alabama today… temperatures are mostly in the 60s, and the humidity is low. Some clouds will invade the state tonight and tomorrow morning with passing disturbance, but rain is not expected since the low level air is so dry. Sunshine will be out in full force tomorrow afternoon with a high in the low 60s.

THURSDAY MORNING FREEZE: Still looks like we will drop into the 27-32 degree range early Thursday morning. Then, Thursday will be dry but noticeably cooler with a high only in the low to mid 50s, well below average for mid-March in Alabama.

THURSDAY NIGHT/FRIDAY MORNING: The forecast gets interesting for the Tennessee Valley of far North Alabama, as precipitation breaks out. The wet-bulb cooling effect could very well bring a few snow flakes to North Alabama from about midnight Thursday night until 8:00 Friday morning… north of U.S. 278 (north of a line from Hamilton to Cullman to Gadsden). The GFS actually tries to bring 1-2 inches of snow to places like Florence and Huntsville. This is a very “iffy” situation; the low level thickness values really don’t support snow, but wet-bulb cooling could be a real factor.

Down this way (Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, Gadsden), it looks like a cold rain begins Friday morning (the 12Z run of the GFS is faster)… and periods of rain will continue Friday afternoon into Friday night. We might have a hard time getting out of the 40s Friday thanks to the clouds and rain. Not exactly a Chamber of Commerce kind of day.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Saturday, unfortunately, looks wet statewide. Periods of rain, maybe a little thunder, as a warm front moves slowly northward from the Gulf. The high should be in the 60s; it won’t rain all day, but it could rain at any time during the day.

Sunday looks interesting; the widespread rain could very well end early Sunday morning, followed by a decent amount of midday sunshine thanks to a mid level dry slot. But, we will be in the warm sector of the storm system to the west, and strong storms could fire up during the afternoon and evening hours with temperatures rising well into the 70s, along with dewpoints in the 60s. We will monitor this situation in coming days… but it looks like one of those wild March weekends with everything from snow to heavy rain to strong storms.

NEXT WEEK: Much colder air blows into the state next week, and I fully expect a late season freeze on at least one or two mornings during the mid-week period. See the Weather Xtreme video for the 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. We will produce the show tonight at 8:30 p.m. CDT… the legend Chuck Doswell will be our guest. You can watch it live here.

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I really enjoyed seeing the kids at Greene County Head Start in Eutaw today… be looking for them on the Pepsi KIDCAM today at 5:00 on ABC 33/40 News! The next Weather Xtreme video will be posted here bright and early tomorrow by 7:00 a.m…

Tornadoes vs Straight Line Winds

| 2:27 pm March 19, 2013

I have noticed an almost angry tone today on social media discussions over yesterday’s widespread and severe wind damage in Alabama. Seems like everybody insists their damage to be caused by a tornado. They tell us…

*I heard the roar
*I saw the funnel
*The trees were twisted
*Winds were blowing in different directions

The National Weather Service in Birmingham, in a morning statement… tells us…

“At this time NWS Birmingham is not planning on conducting storm damage surveys at this time. Based on the radar data and damage reports we have received thus far, the far dominant evidence is that this was solely a thunderstorm wind damage and large hail event in our forecast area.”

It is clear to them, and us, that the damage in our part of the state was not related to a tornado… it was all straight line winds.

Jim Stefkovich, in an afternoon note to the media… writes…

“As we all know, yesterday was not the “typical” severe thunderstorm event. In an effort to strike while the iron is hot, I have two favors, and both John and I are willing to help in any way possible.

The first is for each of you to do a news story to educate folks that yesterday is a prime reason why severe thunderstorms need to be taken seriously with damage equating to a tornado, and to read the actual body of the warning to see what we are saying the impacts will be.”

I know many are hurting now with storm damage and no power. I have been there, and it is not good. But I am clearly beginning to see that many in our state tend to ignore severe thunderstorm warnings, while paying attention only to tornado warnings. We need to change this.

As I wrote here last night…

A gustnado or two was certainly possible yesterday, if not likely… that is a vortex on the leading edge of a thunderstorm’s gust front. Ground based, and not really related to a true tornado in a classic sense.

You have to remember…

*Damaging straight line winds can, and will cause damage just like a tornado.

*You can have twisting type damage with a microburst due to the eddies generated by the air parcel after hitting the ground at extremely high speeds.

*A load roar can also be associated with straight line winds, much like a tornado.

*All severe storms have low level vertical wind shear, including those that don’t produce a tornado.

Many have sent me this picture… from Etowah County…

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This is a tornado look-a-like, like the kind we show in storm spotter training. Not everything that looks like a tornado in a severe storm is a tornado. This cloud feature was formed from ground level by cold, moist, outflow air. The lowering was not rotating — just rising — and produced no damage itself. It looked a little scary due to the differential lightning. The Etowah County damage was all from straight line winds.

The NWS did a remarkable job in issuing severe thunderstorm warnings. One thing to understand is that we do NOT do long form “wall to wall” coverage on ABC 33/40 for these; perhaps that is one reason people think they are not important. I was on TV for about 20 minutes during the 2:30-4:00 time frame with occasional updates, and of course we were pushing updates on the blog and through social media. Everybody with a NOAA Weather Radio, or smart phone app designed to push severe weather warnings, should have know well in advance before the arrival of the damaging winds.

Just one example… this was issued about 30 minutes before the wind damage happened in Etowah County…

BULLETIN – IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BIRMINGHAM AL
334 PM CDT MON MAR 18 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BIRMINGHAM HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR…
ETOWAH COUNTY IN NORTHEAST ALABAMA…
ST. CLAIR COUNTY IN ALABAMA…
SHELBY COUNTY IN ALABAMA…

* UNTIL 430 PM CDT

* AT 332 PM CDT…EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT REPORTED A LINE OF SEVERE
THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL…AND DESTRUCTIVE WINDS
IN EXCESS OF 70 MPH. THESE STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE
EXTENDING FROM 5 MILES EAST OF MCLARTY TO 6 MILES WEST OF ASHVILLE
TO MOODY TO VESTAVIA HILLS TO TANNEHILL IRONWORKS STATE PARK…AND
MOVING EAST AT 65 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE…
ODENVILLE…HELENA…PELHAM…ALABASTER…MONTEVALLO…PELL CITY…
CHELSEA AND RAINBOW CITY.

THIS INCLUDES…
INTERSTATE 65 EXIT NUMBERS 228 THROUGH 247…
INTERSTATE 20 EXIT NUMBERS 144 THROUGH 162…
INTERSTATE 59 EXIT NUMBERS 148 THROUGH 188…

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

THESE STORMS HAVE A HISTORY OF PRODUCING WIDESPREAD WIND DAMAGE.
THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SITUATION. SEEK SHELTER NOW INSIDE A
STURDY STRUCTURE AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

Please take this away from yesterday…

*A severe thunderstorm is defined as a storm with 58 mph winds or greater, or hail 1″ in diameter or larger.

*Pay attention to severe thunderstorm warnings.

*Read or listen to the text of the warning to see the hazards involved. Note the warnings yesterday said “These storms have a history of producing widespread wind damage. This is an extremely dangerous situation. Seek shelter now inside a sturdy structure and stay away from windows”. We can’t be specific than that.

*If high wind is the hazard, do not drive, or be in a vehicle when the storm is passing through, and stay away from windows.

*You MUST have a NOAA Weather Radio or smart phone app (like MyWarn or iMap WeatherRadio) to get warnings. And, if you are watching TV and the severe weather map is on the screen, pay attention to the crawl message.

We note the NWS in Huntsville did issue two tornado warnings for DeKalb County, where there was rotation on radar, and they are surveying the area now. That would be only place in Alabama with potential tornado damage yesterday.

But, otherwise, it was all straight line wind damage. Trust me, we don’t say it to make anyone mad, it is simply the way it was. And, damaging winds can be just as dangerous as a tornado. At least 13 people in our state were hospitalized yesterday; we are very fortunate there was no loss of life.

A Calmer Day

| 5:59 am March 19, 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.

WILD MONDAY: The Alabama EMA office reports major damage in 18 Alabama counties; damage was especially significant across Walker, Etowah, and Calhoun Counties where hundreds of trees were uprooted and some structural damage was reported. Etowah County EMA reports 8 injuries including one that had to be transported to a Birmingham hospital. Large hail fell in many places; baseball sized hail was reported just south of downtown Clanton. Most of the damage was consistent with straight line winds; the NWS will have survey teams out today.

See a list of school closings and delays here.

See damage/storm pictures on our Flickr feed here.

SUNSHINE RETURNS: The sky will be sunny across Alabama today as drier air has returned; the high will be in the mid 60s. The weather will be cool and dry tomorrow and Thursday; we are forecasting a late season freeze early Thursday morning with a low in the 27-32 degree range. We won’t get out of the 50s Thursday afternoon despite a partly to mostly sunny sky.

WET WEEKEND: Clouds return Thursday night, and rain will begin during the day Friday as moist air returns to the state. We will mention periods of rain Friday night and Saturday as an upper trough slowly approaches. The last few runs of the GFS suggest we could very well have some thunder, but for now the severe weather risk looks low with a stable airmass in place. This is tornado season, of course, and we always have to keep an eye on any system that moves through the time of the year.

The 00Z GFS hints the rain will end by midday Sunday, with some chance of a little sunshine Sunday afternoon as a dry slot works into the state from the west. If the sun does break out Sunday afternoon, we could reach the low 70s.

NEXT WEEK: A shot of colder air moves in here by Tuesday and Wednesday, and I still believe the door is open for at least one morning with sub-freezing temperatures. See the Weather Xtreme video for the maps, graphics, and details.

AT THE BEACH: No rain on the Gulf Coast (Panama City west to Gulf Shores) through Thursday with mostly sunny days and fair nights. Showers and a few storms will return Friday and Saturday; just a slight risk of a stray shower Sunday. Highs will be in the 66-70 degree range along the immediate coast, and the sea water temperatures are still running around 60 degrees.

VERNAL EQUINOX: The first “official” day of spring is tomorrow; the new season arrives at 6:02 a.m. CDT. We will have twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness as the sun will be directly over the equator.

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. We will produce this week’s show tonight at 8:30 p.m. CDT… legendary tornado researcher Chuck Doswell will be our guest; you can watch it live here.

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

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I will be doing a weather program this morning down at Eutaw in Greene County… be looking for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 4:00 this afternoon. Enjoy the day….