Archive for January 5th, 2017

New GFS Run Supports Current Forecast

| January 5, 2017 @ 10:12 pm

Just a quick note to say that the evening run of the GFS is in for this system and it looks a lot like the morning run that generated so much concern.

It appears our forecast is on track, and now we will just have to see how the system evolves.

Some Mid-Evening Notes on the Forecast

| January 5, 2017 @ 9:07 pm

The forecast die has been cast and now we are in wait and watch mode across Alabama tonight as the first winter storm of the new year and season takes aim at the Southeast.

Rarely does it seem that forecasts are cut and dried when it comes to winter weather in Alabama. Have probably seen fifty or so snow events in my time and I can only remember one that was fairly set in stone three days in advance and evolved the way we thought. That was the January 1992 storm that dumped 4.4 inches on Birmingham.

Will our forecast change? It very well could. This system will likely throw us several surprises before it is done.

The morning run of the GFS was very concerning, with more moisture being thrown up and into a really cold airmass. That’s a recipe for snow in our state. Throw in a large swath of mixed precipitation across South Central Alabama and you have the makings for a significant event.

Then the European run was much drier and further south, with a much smaller impact. The early afternoon run of the GFS sided with the European calling for a drier system. Will that trend continue in new runs?

The new NAM tonight wants to really ramp up the snow over the northern half of Alabama, dumping widespread 1-3 inch snows late tomorrow night. That is very interesting and plausible.

The HRRR shows increasing precipitation all across North Central Alabama after midnight tonight through much of tomorrow morning, especially after 10 a.m.

All of this flip flopping just indicates that the models don’t have a good handle on the situation. As James always says, it is getting close to time to look at the radar and out the window.

For now, I think the forecast is good and we will start to look for the whites of our system’s eyes. We know there will be cold air. We know there will be a surface low in the Gulf. We know that there will be a band of snow over North Alabama where they will be strong dynamics. Now we just have to see how it all plays out.

Evening Update

| January 5, 2017 @ 6:52 pm

RADAR CHECK: We have some patches of light rain/sleet/snow over West Alabama already this evening, but temperatures there are well above freezing, and we expect no travel issues before midnight.

A winter storm warning goes into effect tomorrow morning for East-Central Alabama, with winter weather advisories for much of the rest of Alabama.

Heaviest snow, most likely, will come in the winter storm warning area…

EVENING NOTES:

*We could see a touch of bridge icing as early as 6:00 a.m. tomorrow over West Alabama due to light freezing rain, sleet, or snow. Precipitation will be generally light during the morning hours.

*Heavier precipitation, mostly snow for the northern half of the state, begins later in the day.

*Road continues will deteriorate tomorrow afternoon and tomorrow night, especially where heavier bands of snow and sleet set up. Temperatures will stay below freezing across much of North Alabama as very cold Arctic air is pulled southward.

*Tomorrow night will bring snow to North Alabama, and a wintry mix for the southern counties of the state, and as temperatures fall into the 20s icy travel is likely and travel will be discouraged almost statewide.

*Understand the “accumulation potential” maps we show are just a guideline, and “up to 3 inches” means a range of zero to 3. Not everybody will get accumulating snow in these colored bands; we prepare these maps simply as a guideline. Some will get 2-3 inches of snow, others will get nothing.

*If you are traveling, remember the snow will expand eastward Saturday into Georgia and the Carolinas.

*Operations at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport could be impacted by winter weather tomorrow and tomorrow night, and Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta could see many delayed flights Saturday because of snow.

Stay tuned to the blog for updates..

Updated Closings As Of 3:30 PM

| January 5, 2017 @ 3:32 pm

As of 3:30 PM, here is a list of school closings and delays for Friday…

SCHOOL
Alabaster City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Attalla City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Bessemer City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Bibb County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Blount County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Calhoun County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Chilton County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Clay County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Cleburne County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Cornerstone Christian : Closed Tomorrow
Episcopal Day School Gadsden : Closed Tomorrow
Etowah County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Fairfield City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Gadsden City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Hilltop Montessori School – Mt Laurel : Closed Tomorrow
Integrity Christian Academy : Closed Tomorrow
Jefferson Christian Academy : Closed Tomorrow
Jefferson County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Kingwood Christian School : Closed Tomorrow
Leeds City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Oneonta City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Pelham City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Randolph County Schools : Closing at 11:30 AM
Shelby County Schools : Closed Tomorrow; No evening activities
St Clair County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Sumiton Christian School : Closed Tomorrow
Walker County Schools : School will be delayed Friday to 11:30; buses will delay routes 3 1/2 hours
Westbrook Christian School : Closed Tomorrow
Winston County Schools : Closed Tomorrow

DAY CARE
God’s Little People : Closed Tomorrow
Tabernacle Christian School and Daycare : Closed Tomorrow

CHURCH
Casa at Asbury UMC : Closed Tomorrow

We’ll keep you updated throughout the remainder of the day on closings and delays. Stay tuned to the blog.

Winter Weather Ahead For Alabama Tomorrow

| January 5, 2017 @ 3:14 pm

**No afternoon Weather Xtreme video today due to extremely heavy radio/TV/social media duties; the blog discussion will explain it all nicely**

WINTER STORM AHEAD: NWS offices in Alabama have issued winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories this afternoon that will be in effect tomorrow, tomorrow night, and early Saturday morning for much of the state…

AMOUNTS: Understand the “accumulation potential” map below is just a guideline, and “up to 3 inches” means a range of zero to 3. Not everybody will get accumulating snow in these colored bands; we prepare these maps simply as a guideline. Some will get 2-3″ of snow, others will get nothing.

TIMING: Light snow and sleet could begin across the northern half of Alabama as early as 6:00 tomorrow morning along and west of I-65.. Initially the precipitation will be light, but temperatures will be below freezing, and bridge icing is very possible. This will move into East Alabama tomorrow afternoon. Understand the snow/sleet during the day tomorrow should be relatively light, but many communities will remain below freezing much of the day, and icing will remain possible on bridges and overpasses.

Rain is likely over South Alabama during the day tomorrow.

Tomorrow night, after 5:00 p.m., precipitation rates will increase, with heavier snow/sleet for Central Alabama. This is when driving conditions will begin to deteriorate significantly as temperatures drop into the 20s after dark. Rain will change over to sleet and snow over South Central Alabama later tomorrow night, especially after midnight.

Precipitation will end early Saturday morning.

POWER: Widespread power outages are not expected since in most places the snow will be light, and winds won’t be especially high.

TRAVEL ISSUES: The main issue involves travel. As stated above, icy bridges are possible during the day tomorrow, but all roads could become icy, especially in the winter storm area, tomorrow night as temperatures drop into the 20s and precipitation gets heavier. Travel where heavier snow falls will become difficult, if not impossible, late tomorrow and tomorrow night. We could see icy travel even south of U.S. 80 after midnight tomorrow night and early Saturday morning.

While the snow will end early Saturday, icy roads could linger through at least mid-day with very cold air lingering over Alabama. Conditions begin to improve Saturday afternoon.

BIRMINGHAM-SHUTTLESWORTH AIRPORT: Snow could mean potential for flight delays or reduced operation, mainly tomorrow afternoon and tomorrow night into early Saturday morning.

ATLANTA: Operations at Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta could be seriously disputed Saturday; Atlanta is under a winter storm warning where snow amounts could exceed two inches easily. Expect flight delays, maybe even some cancellations. Driving in Atlanta is NOT advised Saturday.

REST OF THE SOUTHEAST: Snow will move into Georgia and the Carolinas Saturday, heavy in spots, making for very difficult driving conditions.

FRIGID WEEKEND: Very cold air will linger across Alabama over the weekend; the high Saturday will be only in the mid 30s, followed by upper 30s Sunday. We drop into the 15-20 degree range early Sunday and Monday morning. The sky becomes partly sunny Saturday, and Sunday will feature sunshine in full supply.

NEXT WEEK: The weather will be warmer with a chance of rain 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.

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Keep checking the blog for updates tonight and through the event tomorrow…

Winter Storm Warning & Winter Weather Advisory Now Up For Central Alabama

| January 5, 2017 @ 3:13 pm

The National Weather Service has just issued the upgrades to the Winter Storm Watch.

Here are the details:

…Winter Storm Warning for Calhoun, Chambers, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Randolph, Shelby, Talladega and Tallapoosa Counties.

…Winter Weather Advisory for Bibb, Blount, Cherokee, Etowah, Jefferson, Pickens, St. Clair, Tuscaloosa and Walker Counties. .

…Winter Weather Advisory for Autauga, Dallas, Elmore, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry and Sumter Counties.

…Winter Weather Advisory for Fayette, Lamar, Marion and Winston Counties.

…Winter Weather Advisory for Lee, Lowndes, Macon and Montgomery Counties.

TIMING
The Advisory begins officially at 6 a.m. CST tomorrow morning (Friday) and continues until 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Precipitation will begin over South Alabama early tomorrow morning and rapidly increase after noon tomorrow across much of Central Alabama.

IMPACTS STILL UNCERTAIN
There are still significant differences in the two main models that we use as far as the amount of moisture and strength of this system. The two solutions are very different, with the GFS showing a swath of light snow across North Alabama, with a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain depending on your location basically between I-20 and I-65/85.

Here is the current thinking behind the Advisory, with a lean to the GFS, but an eye on the European and the uncertainty it brings to the table.

RAIN
It will fall as all rain over South Alabama, generally south of a line from Citronelle to Evergreen to Troy to Phenix City. No problems expected here.

MIX OF FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET
North of that line, to a line from Livingston to Verbena to Roanoke, there may be a significant accumulation of sleet and freezing rain. We aren’t talking about an ice storm on the order of 1982, but there will be ice accumulations, including 0.1 to 0.2 inches of freezing rain and 0.25 to 0.5 inches of sleet. This can cause significant travel problems and some power outages. I don’t think we are paying enough attention to the icing threat across the Central part of Alabama. It doesn’t take much freezing rain and sleet to cause real problems.

SNOW
A decent accumulating snow may affect a swath generally along and south of I-59 back down to a line from Butler to Selma to Wetumpka to Auburn and Valley. Accumulations in this area could be in the 1-3 inch range with some places picking up 3-6 inches. There will be some disappointed people who are on the low end, which there will be some surprises on the high side too. The best chance for the higher accumulations will be over parts of Clay, Randolph, Coosa, Tallapoosa and Elmore Counties. Over North Alabama, a general dusting to 1 inch will occur. A few counties like Pickens, Fayette and Walker could get left out though.

PRECIPITATION TIMING
…First light rain will reach Southwest Alabama between 9 pm-midnight tonight.
…The arctic front should reach I-59 by Sunrise
…Light snow should move into Northwest Alabama during the morning hours.
…Precipitation will begin to increase over Southwest Alabama by noon.
…Precipitation will be heaviest between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m., tapering after that from the west
…The best chances for precipitation will continue until the pre-dawn hours Saturday
…Most of the precipitation will be gone by 6 a.m. Saturday.

SCHOOL, WORK TOMORROW?
If confidence in this forecast scenario continues to increase, I would expect many school systems across the area to cancel tomorrow. Those decisions might not come until early Friday morning however for many. Jefferson County schools have already announced that they will be closed tomorrow.

TIMING OF TRAVEL PROBLEMS
…Freezing rain could begin over West Central Alabama’s Sumter, Choctaw, Marengo Counties by mid-morning, increasing into the noon hour.
…Light snow will begin falling during the afternoon, perhaps as early as 1-2 p.m. just south of the I-20 Corridor with sleet across the northern part of the advisory area through the afternoon.
…Snow will increase south of the I-20 Corridor through the evening with sleet and freezing rain spreading south across the Advisory area through the evening.

STILL A CHANGING FLUID SITUATION
As is often the case, we won’t know what is really going to happen until we see the whites of this system’s eyes, and that will come early tomorrow morning mostly likely. Stay tuned here for the very latest updates throughout the afternoon, overnight and the event itself. James will have his thoughts just after 3 p.m.

Winter Weather Advisory Issued To Our North

| January 5, 2017 @ 3:05 pm

The National Service in Huntsville has issued a Winter Weather Advisory from 12:00 PM CST on Friday until 12:00AM CST on Saturday for Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, and Limestone counties.

Timing and Areas Affected: Northwest Alabama beginning early Friday afternoon and lasting into Friday evening.

Accumulations: Around 1 inch or less.

Other Hazards: On Friday night, wind chills of 0F to 10F in North Alabama.

Impacts: Hazardous winter travel conditions are anticipated due to snow and possible refreezing of moisture on area roadways.
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Another Winter Weather Advisory has been issued from 3:00 PM CST on Friday until 3:00 AM CST on Saturday for Madison, Morgan, Jackson, Dekalb, and Cullman counties.

Timing and Areas Affected: North-Central and Northeast Alabama beginning late Friday afternoon and lasting into Friday night.

Accumulations: Around 1 inch or less.

Other Hazards: On Friday night, wind chills of 0F to 10F in North Alabama.

Impacts: Hazardous winter travel conditions are anticipated due to snow and possible refreezing of moisture on area roadways.
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A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means that periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities… and use caution while driving.

School Closings & Delays For Friday

| January 5, 2017 @ 1:58 pm

As of 1:45 PM, here is a list of school closings and delays for Friday…

Jefferson County Schools – CLOSED
Walker County Schools – DELAYED: Friday to 11:30; buses will delay routes 3-1/2 hours
Fairfield City Schools – CLOSED
Sumiton Christian School – CLOSED
Clay County Schools – CLOSED
Cleburne County Schools – CLOSED
Attalla City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Bibb County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Blount County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Chilton County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Episcopal Day School Gadsden : Closed Tomorrow
Etowah County Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Gadsden City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Hilltop Montessori School – Mt Laurel : Closed Tomorrow
Oneonta City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Pelham City Schools : Closed Tomorrow
Shelby County Schools : Closed Tomorrow; No evening activities

We’ll keep you updated throughout the remainder of the day on closings and delays. Stay tuned to the blog.

Also just in…

A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for north and parts of central Georgia late Friday into early Saturday. Low pressure will move across the northern Gulf of Mexico, bringing deep moisture to much of Georgia. This, in combination with an invading cold airmass, will create the potential for snow across extreme north Georgia Friday afternoon…and a rain/snow mix changing to all snow Friday evening. The snow will end from the west late Friday night and early Saturday morning. The forecast snowfall amounts and axis of heavier snow will likely change between now and Friday night. Keep in mind, wherever snow falls, travel conditions will definitely be negatively impacted. Now is the time to start planning accordingly.