Archive for January 4th, 2017

Some Confusion On Winter Storm Watch

| January 4, 2017 @ 11:26 pm

As I watched a little television with my family tonight, I noticed something about what the local stations were informing us on the upcoming Winter Storm Watch. These stations were already showing a watch/warning graphic in the corner of the screen, and accompanying that was the informative crawl. The one station that I started with, I noticed that their crawl did not have the start time for the watch. It only said, “…until 9AM Saturday morning.” I thought to myself, “Well, that could be a little confusing.”

So I decided to check each news station in the Birmingham market, and each one said the same exact thing about the watch, “…until 9AM Saturday morning.” I turned the television set off and I headed over to my “Weather Workstation” at my desk in the den. I actually had a couple of questions asking, “When should I expect snow to start here in (town name)? The watch is for now, right?” So I gave my best answer that I could (for now) to the first question, but I definitely gave the correct answer for the second. “The watch actually doesn’t start until 6AM on Friday morning and goes until 9AM on Saturday morning.”

As you can see, the lack of correct information has already started some confusion within the community. I understand that the news channels are trying to convey the message to the audience that we will be under a Winter Storm Watch until 9AM on Saturday morning. As a weather community, we need to work together to get the message out precisely, especially if it is a message from the National Weather Service concerning what could be a temporary life-altering event.

Here’s my main point: The Winter Storm Watch is in effect starting at 6AM on Friday morning, and goes until 9AM on Saturday morning. Light snow could start as early as the watch goes into effect on Friday morning. At some point between now and Friday morning, the watch will probably be upgraded to a Winter Weather Advisory, which is actually a step up from the watch. Be sure to check the blog often for updates as we approach the event, as more forecast changes are a good possibility. We are also on Facebook and on Twitter. Be sure to like and follow us on those networks.

Winter Storm Watch For Friday

| January 4, 2017 @ 3:28 pm

COLD TODAY, MUCH COLDER FRIDAY: The one thing for sure is that the weather in Alabama will be very cold Friday through the weekend. Most North Alabama communities are only in the 40s this afternoon, and the second phase of the big chill arrives Friday; many places across North Alabama will stay below freezing all day. The big question, of course, involves potential for winter “mischief” along with the cold.

WINTER STORM WATCH: The NWS Birmingham has issued a winter storm watch for Friday for Tuscaloosa, Bibb, Walker, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount. Etowah, Cherokee, Talladega, Calhoun, Cleburne, and Clay counties…

The watch is in effect from 6:00 a.m. Friday through 9:00 a.m. Saturday; light snow could begin as early as 6:00 Friday morning.

The criteria for a winter storm watch here is 2 inches of snow, and there is a chance some communities in the watch area could very well get 2-3 inches of snow by Friday night. But, understand many places in the watch won’t get two inches… in fact some places could very well not see a single flake. That is the way it usually works with winter weather situations in Alabama.

To the north, over the Tennessee Valley, any accumulation of snow Friday should be light.

And, to the south, if you are in places like Montgomery, Selma, Auburn, even Greenville and Troy, there is some chance you might deal with a “wintry mix” of sleet and freezing rain Friday night.

IMPACT: With relatively light snow expected, we don’t expect any power outages. The main issue is the potential for icy travel, possibly beginning as early as Friday morning, when temperatures will be in the upper 20s. And, even during the midday hours Friday, it will be hard for us to rise above 32 degrees, so icy spots are very possible, especially on bridges and overpasses during the day where snow falls.

The chance of icy travel continues into Friday night, and as cold air drops southward, understand we could see some sleet/freezing rain issues down into South/Central Alabama (but probably no snow there).

Here is a look at the probability of over one inch of snow from 6am Friday through 6am Saturday, if you are traveling…

Wintry precipitation will end very early Saturday morning as the wave in the Gulf of Mexico lifts out.

IMPORTANT: There is still considerable model disagreement concerning potential for snow Friday; the winter storm watch was issued as a “course of least regret”. The GFS model is the most aggressive, other models show much lighter amounts, so please understand there will be come places in the winter storm watch that receive very little snow.

And, at some point the watch will be most likely upgraded to a “winter weather advisory”. Understand that IS an upgrade from a watch.

And, of course, more forecast changes are a good possibility, so please check in often for updates as we approach the event. Take some time to watch the Weather Xtreme video for the maps, graphics, and more details.

VERY COLD WEEKEND: The sky becomes partly sunny Saturday, and Sunday should be mostly sunny, but very cold Arctic air stays in place. The high Saturday will be in the 30s, and the latest GFS run is printing a low of 15 degrees for Birmingham early Sunday morning. Monday morning should be just as cold.

A warming trend begins early next week, and rain returns to the state by Tuesday night and Wednesday.

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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Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow…

Winter Storm Watch Is In Effect For Parts Of Central Alabama

| January 4, 2017 @ 3:25 pm

The National Weather Service in Birmingham has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Walker, Blount, Etowah, Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Tuscaloosa, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Clay, and Bibb counties valid for 6AM Friday morning through 9AM Saturday morning.

A Strong cold front is expected to dive southward early on Friday morning bringing temperatures in the upper 20s to lower 30s to portions of Central Alabama. At nearly the same time, a weak gulf system will form spreading moisture northward on Friday morning through early Aaturday as it exits to the northeast. Snow and sleet accumulations are possible in and near the watch area. Please stay tuned for adjustments to the forecast as this event gets closer. Significant impacts are possible.

  • Event: A Storm system is expected to develop with potential winter weather impacts.
  • Timing: Friday morning through Saturday morning.
  • Location: Largest impacts will be possible, mainly between the I-59 and I-20 corridors in the watch area. Some sleet impacts are possible as far south as the I-85 corridor.
  • Accumulations: 2 to 3 inches of snow are possible in the watch zones from the Birmingham metro area, east and northeast. Less than 2 inches are possible in other outlying areas to the west and northwest of the metro.

A Winter Storm Watch means there is a potential for significant snow, sleet, or ice accumulations that may impact travel. Continue to monitor the latest forecasts.

Mostly Cloudy, Cool, & Quite Breezy At Midday Across Central Alabama

| January 4, 2017 @ 12:48 pm

May Need To Grab A Windbreaker
It is a cool and windy midday across Central Alabama, and for much of the area, the sun is being filtered out by cloud cover. The fortunate few who are actually seeing some sunshine is up in the extreme northwestern parts of the area, and down into the extreme southwestern parts of the state, including the beautiful gulf beaches of Alabama. No rain on radar at this time, and will remain that way until the evening hours on Thursday.

Temperatures Across Central Alabama
Temperatures at 12:15 PM are ranging from the upper 30s in the northern parts of Central Alabama, to the low 60s in the extreme southern parts of the area. The warm spot is currently Eufaula at 62 degrees. The cool spot is currently Haleyville at 39 degrees.

Birmingham’s Climatology And Records
The normal high for January 4th is 53, while the normal low is 33. The record high for today was set back in 1950 at 75 degrees. The record low was set back in 1919 at 4 degrees.

Weather For The Remainder Of The Day
Skies will actually start to clear out slowly for the remainder of the day, but it will remain a quite cool and breezy day out there across the area. Afternoon highs will be in the mid 40s to the mid 50s throughout Central Alabama, from north to south, with low 60s possible in the extreme southern locations in the area. Winds will be out of the north at 10-15 MPH. Clouds will continue to be on the decrease this evening and through the overnight hours. Lows will fall into the upper 20s to the upper 30s throughout the area from north to south. A few colder spots may reach the low 20s. Calm to very light winds out of the northeast throughout the overnight hours.

Thursday Forecast
A mix of sun and clouds, and another cool day across Central Alabama. Afternoon highs will be in the upper 40s to the upper 50s across the area from north to south, with the extreme southern locations possibly reaching at or just above 60 degrees. For the evening and overnight hours, clouds will be moving in ahead of the system that could bring some wintry mischief to the area. A chance of rain is possible for the southwestern parts of the area starting after 9PM, and will progress to the east during the overnight hours. There is a small chance that some light snow could start to fall over the northern counties of the area after midnight. Overnight lows will be in the upper 20s to the low 40s from north to south.

Headed To The Beach
Mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies from now through Thursday, with showers possible on Thursday night through midday Saturday. Mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies return to finish out the weekend and to start next week. See the complete Gulf Coast 7-Day Planner here..

On This Day In Weather History: 1987
A storm moving off the Pacific Ocean spread wintery weather across the southwestern U.S., with heavy snow extending from southern California to western Wyoming. Up to 15 inches of snow blanketed the mountains of southern California, and rainfall totals in California ranged up to 2.20 inches in the Chino area.

National High & Low Temperature
The warmest high temperature for the United States on Tuesday was 88 degrees, recorded in three different locations: McAllen Texas, Marathon Florida, and Stuart Florida. The coldest low temperature for the United States on Tuesday night into early this morning was -24 degrees, recorded in two different locations: Bismark North Dakota and Butte Montana.

Central Alabama Chapter Of The NWA
The Central Alabama Chapter of the National Weather Association will be hosting famed engineer and storm chaser Tim Marshall. He will speak at Vulcan Museum on the evening of Tuesday, January 24th. This is an event you won’t want to miss. Look for details on the chapter’s website.

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This is the weekly netcast that’s all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including our meteorologists at ABC 33/40. You can listen anytime on the web, or on iTunes. You can find it here.

Forecaster: Scott Martin (Twitter: @scottmartinwx)

Late Morning Update

| January 4, 2017 @ 11:15 am

The new 12Z model set is coming in a little more aggressive with snow potential for the I-20 corridor Friday and Friday night…

We will have a collaboration chat with the NWS Birmingham early this afternoon, and then present our first accumulation potential/placement graphic this afternoon. Stay tuned…

WeatherBrains 572: Two Doctors and a SOO!!

| January 4, 2017 @ 9:42 am

WeatherBrains Episode 572 is now online (January 3, 2017). If you are crazy about weather, this is THE netcast audio program for you!

Tonight’s GuestPanelist needs no introduction to our audience. He is a former President of the AMS and the host of The Weather Channel’s WxGeeks show. Dr. Marshall Shepherd, welcome to WeatherBrains!

And tonight’s Guest WeatherBrains are both alumni of the show. She is a prominent social scientist in the area of meteorology and preparedness at the University of Alabama. Dr. Laura Myers, welcome to the show! He is the Science and Operations Officer at the National Weather Service Office in Birmingham, Alabama. Kevin Laws, welcome to the program!

Other discussions in this weekly podcast include topics like:

  • Extremes: 88 at McAllen, TX, Marathon, FL, & Stuart, FL, and -25 at Jordan, MT
  • Severe weather across southern US on January 2nd
  • 4 tornado deaths in Alabama
  • Snow potential for Southeast US at end of week
  • Astronomy Outlook with Tony Rice
  • and more!

Our email bag officer is watching incoming messages from our listeners, but topics, technical issues, and a weather show puts off the mail bag again.

From The Weather Center:

WeatherBrains 101: The initial review of the Netatmo weather equipment was in Episode 465 with a follow-up in Episode 512. Now for this segment of WeatherBrains the Professor does yet another follow-up as the Netatmo weather equipment continues to impress with new equipment elements to flesh out your weather station.

Listener SurveyListener Surveys: Okay, we continue to drive this topic into the ground, but we really do like to hear from you. Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to fill out the Listener Survey. The survey takes just a minute or two to complete and provides us with an opportunity to learn where you are and hear your thoughts and comments on the show. Click here to take the survey.

Web Sites from Episode 572:

Bryan Woods’ article on snow forecasting

AMS guideline on use of “meteorologist”

Forbes article by Dr. Shepherd on viral weather forecasts

To subscribe to the brand new SkyWritings, an email newsletter from the WeatherBrains gang, click HERE.

Picks of the Week:

Kevin Laws – Pivotal weather data

Laura Myers – Suggests following local WFO on Twitter like @NWSBirmingham and @NWSJackson

Bill Murray – Gets the fog horn!

Brian Peters – Pictorial essay, Winter Is Coming

Kevin Selle – Attention Merchants

Rick Smith – Forbes article on viral weather forecasts

James Spann – NCEP sref plumes

Aubrey Urbanowicz – Mother lode of weather links

The WeatherBrains crew includes your host, James Spann, plus other notable geeks like Nate Johnson, Bill Murray, Aubrey Urbanowicz, Rick Smith, Kevin Selle, and Brian Peters. They bring together a wealth of weather knowledge and experience for another fascinating netcast about weather. graphic

Very Cold Air By Friday; Wintry Precipitation??

| January 4, 2017 @ 6:32 am

TRENDING COLDER: The first surge of colder air moves into Alabama today; temperatures will hover around 50 degrees much of the day with a sky featuring more clouds than sun. No rain expected. Tomorrow will be dry and cool with a partly sunny sky and a high between 52 and 55 degrees for most places.

FRIGID FRIDAY: Things begin to get interesting Friday as true Arctic air arrives; it looks like temperatures will hover in the 30-34 degree range all day with a cloudy sky… this is some of the coldest air we have experienced so far this winter season. Very cold air is a certainty, but everybody wants to know about potential for wintry precipitation in the cold air, and that is the focus of this discussion.

METEOROLOGICAL SETUP: Most model guidance suggests the atmosphere will be cold enough for snow over the northern half of the state during the day Friday, but with limited moisture. Seems like two separate areas of precipitation will initiate Friday; some light snow over North Alabama with an upper feature, and rain for the southern half of the state as a weak low pressure area forms in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The most widespread precipitation will most likely come Friday night over the southern two-thirds of the state, with potential for some snow/sleet/freezing rain on the northern periphery across Central Alabama. It all ends early Saturday morning as the low lifts northeast.

There is decent agreement in the big picture, but huge model differences in the small scale details which will determine the actual weather and impact for any given point. So, I have decided to hold off on putting together an accumulation potential/placement map until this afternoon; the local weather enterprise will conference early this afternoon and do our best to give you a unified message later today.

IMPORTANT POINTS: Long time readers/viewers know I like to tell people what we know, and I don’t tell them what we don’t know. So… this is what we know this morning…

*Moisture over the northern half of the state will be pretty limited, so snow amounts, if any, will most likely be light, under 1/2 inch (if you see snow at all).

*There is some chance, we we see phasing between the two precipitation areas Friday night, a heavier strip of wintry precipitation could develop over Central Alabama, but there is no way now of knowing exactly where that happens. And, this could be more sleet and freezing rain than snow. Guidance from NOAA’s WPC hints freezing rain problems could develop Friday night along I-85 from Montgomery toward Opelika. Freezing rain is simply rain that falls with temperatures at or below 32 degrees at the surface.

*In terms of travel impact, light snow Friday morning could bring a few icy spots to North Alabama. But, the highest potential for icy travel issues should come Friday night with temperatures drop into the 20s over the northern half of the state.

*Sure, anything can happen, but this it NOT an analog to January 28, 2014 (snowmageddon). Snow was falling with temperatures near 20 degrees during that event; the ice accretion process on roads, as we have learned, is radically different with surface temperatures that cold. Temperatures will be in the 29-34 degree range Friday/Friday night. Yes, some icy travel is very possible, but it won’t be like the horrible day in January 2014.

*Be sure and check the blog later today for updates… please don’t work with old information as you make plans, especially if you are traveling. And, speaking of traveling, higher probabilities of over 3 inches of snow are east of Alabama, across parts of Georgia and the Carolinas (their snow comes Saturday)…

*Watch the Weather Xtreme video for all the maps, graphics, and more details on this event!

VERY COLD WEEKEND: The sky becomes partly sunny Saturday, and Sunday will be bright and sunny, but the weather will be very cold. We won’t get out of the 30s Saturday, and the low early Sunday and Monday will be in the 17-22 degree range.

NEXT WEEK: We start to warm up Monday afternoon, and the latest global model output shows a chance of rain returning to the state Wednesday with a short wave trough approaching.

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. Scroll down for the show notes on the new episode we recorded last night.

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

Google Plus

Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 4:00 this afternoon… enjoy the day!