Archive for January 7th, 2017

Traffic Update

| January 7, 2017 @ 5:43 pm

Still getting flooded with specific traffic questions this evening… again, I am a meteorologist, not a highway engineer, and all I can do is let you see the current real time situation… most of the issues are in the Birmingham metro. See the map below…


*While most roads are dry, icy spots remain
*Biggest issues seem to be concentrated east of Birmingham on interstate highways
*Temperatures tonight will drop into the teens again
*Biggest issues remain on ridges/mountains

If you drive tonight, understand that while most roads are dry, there ARE icy spots. I don’t have a way of knowing specific places where ice lingers, but the map on this post gives you a pretty good idea where ice and traffic issues linger.

Use your common sense and be careful!

Coldest Since When?

| January 7, 2017 @ 2:25 pm

If you have been following the weather, you know it has been and is going to be cold. When temperatures drop below 20 degrees, I think most people would agree with calling it “brutally cold.” So I was curious. The GFS MOS guidance forecast low tonight is 14 degrees. So, when was the last time the temperature was that low or lower in Birmingham? A search of NWS records showed that Birmingham hit 13 degrees on February 19, 2015, nearly two years ago. The most recent cold was a low of 8 degrees on January 8, 2015.

If you are a fan of cold weather, it’s worth noting that the latest date for the last freeze of the season came on April 22, 1993. The mean date for the last freeze is March 25th.

Be sure to take precautions to avoid any bursting pipes since temperatures are going to remain below zero for a pretty long time today and Sunday, and we’re not likely to make it above the freezing mark until Monday morning. Also, please don’t forget to take care of your outdoor pets. Bring them into a warm location like a garage or provide a sheltered location for them. Remember, too, that their water bowls may freeze in this cold weather, so check those often to be sure they have plenty of water to drink.


COLD is the Word

| January 7, 2017 @ 2:13 pm

It certainly has been a wild first week of 2017 in the category of Alabama weather. We started the week off with the threat of severe weather in the state, with a couple of tornadoes over southern portions of the state, and ended the week with wintry weather. The winter weather precip. is out of here, but now we have to deal with the left over mess and the brutal cold. With the clear sky today, the strip where the greatest accumulation of snow and ice occurred, is showing up across the Deep South and Central Alabama as it reflects the sunshine. There is also a lot of snow across eastern Arkansas, Tennessee, and the Ohio Valley.

Despite the sun-filled, blue sky, temperatures are struggling to climb today and many locations are only in the upper 20s. You add in those brisk northwest winds, and wind chills are in the teens, and have been as low a 3° at the Birmingham Airport today.

Road conditions are slowly improving this afternoon, due to a very dry air mass and all the sun, but there will remain icy spots, and traffic troubles remain a serious issue through the Birmingham Metro. Travel is not recommended today and tonight through the area.

Icy spots are going to persist and be an issue tonight as the bitterly cold air mass in place will allow our temperatures to head to the mid teens for many locations overnight. Here is one forecast model on lows in the morning, and they could be a few degrees lower in some locations.

This could actually be the coldest night for many of us since February 19, 2015, when the mercury plunged to 13° at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. With temps this low, we are going to remind folks of the 4 Ps…People, Pets, Pipes, and Plants. I’d leave the pipes dripping tonight for sure.

HARD FREEZE WARNING: The NWS in Birmingham has issued a Hard Freeze Warning for all of Central Alabama. The NWS Mobile has a similar product all the way to the Gulf Coast. Temperatures tonight will range from 10 degrees in the north to 20 degrees in the far south. These temperatures could cause pipes to burst. Be sure to check on your neighbors and pets and prepare for the cold. Also any roads that are wet or icy will freeze overnight and may create hazardous travel conditions through Sunday morning.

SUNNY SUNDAY: Tomorrow will be very similar to today with tons of sun and cold temperatures. We should see afternoon temps climb above freezing, before heading back down into the lower 20s Sunday night. Highs tomorrow will only be in the mid-30s.

I-20 Near I-459 Closed (as of 2:00 PM)

| January 7, 2017 @ 2:08 pm

Image from ABC 33/40’s Stephen Quinn

Image from ABC 33/40’s Stephen Quinn

Alabama State Troopers say all lanes of I-20 are now closed near I-459. No timeframe for reopening.

Latest traffic map from ALGO Traffic.

Even though some travel issues are clearing up with the sun slowly melting the ice, there are still many issues near the Birmingham Metropolitan Area. Please use caution if you have to drive. If you don’t have to drive, it would be a great idea to stay off the roads until this clears. We’ll update throughout the day to see if conditions continue to improve.

Let’s Talk Traffic

| January 7, 2017 @ 12:46 pm

After last night’s winter storm, we have a bright sunny, but very cold day. The high will be around 30 degrees for most. The weather forecast is the easy part.

But, due to horrible icy/snowy conditions traffic was a nightmare in the Birmingham metro this morning, and I am being inundated with traffic questions. Unfortunately, meteorologists are not highway engineers, and forecasting road conditions is not our greatest skill. We can give you some general ideas, however.

BIRMINGHAM: With a strong January sun and very low dewpoints (dry air), road conditions continue to improve across the metro, and many main roads are dry with only some patchy ice. However, some major issues remain. The Interstate system, with elevated bridges, is still a challenge early this afternoon. Some trouble spots…

I-65 at Alford Avenue atop Shades Mountain
I-459 near Liberty Park
I-20 near Leeds and Pell City
US 280 at Double Oak Mountain

Due to earlier multiple car crashes and lingering ice, travel is difficult. In these spots.

See the maps below for traffic conditions early this afternoon across the Birmingham metro and the state:

The aerial show below is U.S. 280 near County Road 41 between Chelsea and Double Oak Mountain about 10:30 this morning….

Through the morning, I told people DON’T DRIVE until 12:00 noon. Now that we are past noon, there are some important points…

*Yes, many roads are in much better shape
*Patchy ice lingers, especially on bridges
*Multiple car crashes from earlier today are still bring cleared up.
*If you do drive this afternoon, watch for icy spots and be VERY careful.
*All roads north of Birmingham are mostly dry with only a few icy patches.
*Seeing some isolated ice issues lingering in Tuscaloosa and Anniston
*Gadsden roads seem to be dry.

Travel in the Birmingham metro should be mostly dry tonight, BUT ICY SPOTS WILL LINGER!!!

Let’s take it easy out there…

Hard Freeze Warning Issued for Tonight and Sunday Morning for Central Alabama

| January 7, 2017 @ 12:23 pm

The NWS in Birmingham has issued a Hard Freeze Warning for all of Central Alabama. The NWS Mobile has a similar product all the way to the Gulf Coast.

This graphic shows the warnings issued by BMX and adjacent offices and the minimum temperatures expected tonight.

Temperatures are expected to drop to near 10F in colder locations tonight with widespread teens.

The NWS Birmingham issues Hard Freeze Warnings when temperatures are expected to drop below 20F.

Conditions Slowly Improving; Please Don’t Drive

| January 7, 2017 @ 11:26 am

Highway 280 East is completely blocked at Lakeshore Parkway.

65 SB is completely blocked at Alford Avenue. Northbound traffic is crawling.


Sun is doing its job this morning, melting the ice on area roads, but many are still icy or slushy. Hills and shady areas are still a huge problem.

Conditions are slowly improving and road closures are beginning to be lifted. Jackknifed trucks are being removed and traffic is beginning to move at some of the major chokepoints.

But officials are urging everyone to stay put for now.

All major highways in the Birmingham metro have ice on them. I-20 is a big issue, especially between I-459 and Moody and again at Cook Springs.

Stay home until the sun and dry air have a chance to do their work.

Temperatures are warming into the middle 20s in the I-20 Corridor, but it is still 19F at Cullman.

The Screaming Message: Stay Off the Roads

| January 7, 2017 @ 9:12 am

Roads are a mess across much of Central Alabama this morning.

Please stay off the roads until at least noon.

The Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport is open but many flights have been canceled or delayed. Here is a list from their website: