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Eyes on Sandy; Alabama Windy And Colder This Weekend

| 3:47 pm October 23, 2012

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THIS AFTERNOON: Lots of sunshine through high clouds across Alabama this afternoon, with temperatures generally in the upper 70s. No rain on radar, and Alabama will stay dry through mid-week.

FRIGID AIR: While we enjoy very mild October weather, we note the temperature this afternoon at Cut Bank, Montana is 21 degrees with a wind chill index of 5 degrees above zero, and that cold air will spread south and east across the continental U.S. in coming days.

FRIDAY NIGHT FRONT: The leading of the cold air moves through Alabama late Friday night. The GFS continues to look pretty dry, and we won’t need to mention anything more than isolated showers Friday night as the front moves through. Any showers will be long gone by daybreak Saturday.

WEEKEND WIND AND CHILL: Strong north winds will develop across Alabama over the weekend due to the tight pressure gradient from Sandy to the east, and the Arctic high to the northwest. I expect winds both Saturday and Sunday to average 15 to 25 mph, with gusts over 30 mph at times. And, we will struggle to get out of the 50s both Saturday Sunday as the very cold air is pulled southward on the west side of Sandy’s circulation. Bottom line is that the weekend will be dry, but cold and blustery.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: For Saturday’s Magic City Classic at Legion Field, the weather will be windy and very cool with a mix of sun and clouds. The temperature will be near 60 at kickoff, falling into through the 50s during the second half. Winds could gust to over 30 mph. Both Alabama and Auburn have Saturday night home games; the weather at both sites will be windy and cold with potential for the temperature to drop into the 40s during the second half of the games. Winds will be in the 10-20 mph range Saturday night, making it feel colder.

Once the wind dies down early next week we have a decent chance at frost over the northern half of the state, and a freeze for the colder valleys either Monday or Tuesday morning.

HISTORIC NORTHEAST U.S. STORM? Tropical Storm Sandy is expected to become a hurricane during the next 24 hours; it will cross the island of Jamaica tomorrow, and the eastern tip of Cuba late tomorrow night into Thursday morning. By Friday, the system will be over the Bahamas. From there, uncertainty remains rather high in the forecast, but there is a little higher level of confidence in Sandy impacting the Northeast U.S. as a huge nor’easter.

Sandy is expected to begin the transformation from a tropical system to a cold core, North Atlantic type nor’easter late in the weekend north of the Bahamas. While the GFS continue to show the system staying offshore, the ECMWF is very persistent with the idea of a huge problem for the Northeast U.S…. the 12Z run of the Euro shows landfall near Long Island early Tuesday with a core pressure of 937 millibars, the equivalent of a major hurricane.

And yes, there are some similarities to the “Perfect Storm” of October 1991 with this idea.

SHOULD this be the right solution, there would be widespread power outages over the Northeast U.S., flooding, and major beach erosion on the coast. And, west of the mountains, they will be measuring snow in feet instead of inches as a full blown “snow-cane” develops. But, we stress nobody knows the final destination of this system now. You will see much media hype, but it is just too early in the game for that. This could very well stay offshore.

We note the 12Z GEMS (Canadian) drives the system toward either the coast of Maine, or the Canadian maritimes, and is considerably farther north compared to the European.

But, with a large blocking high developing over the North Atlantic and Greenland, the idea of a major storm for the Northeast U.S. early next week is a very real possibility. With millions of people impacted. Stay tuned. And, see the Weather Xtreme video for all of the graphics and details.

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I had a great time today visiting the Jeff State Community College campus in Pell City… thanks to everyone for their hospitality. Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow…

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