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Cold, Wet, Miserable Weather

| 6:15 am January 14, 2013

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WELCOME TO WINTER: The “January thaw” is over for the northern half of Alabama. As expected, cold air returned last night, and unfortunately we won’t see any sunshine anytime soon as chill settles in.

The cold air is very shallow, and warmer, moist air will “overrun” the cold air through mid-week, meaning clouds and rain. Due to the saturated soil from yesterday’s heavy rain, the NWS has issued a flash flood watch for areas along and north of I-20, including Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Anniston, and points north. Additional rain amounts of 2-3 inches are likely through Wednesday morning, and while we are not looking at convective rains, even steady light to moderate rain will be enough for some flooding issues in low spots.

Temperatures won’t budge much at all through Wednesday; we pretty much stay in the 40s day and night. In the words of Bill Withers… “ain’t no sunshine”…

FREEZING RAIN FOR THE NORTHWEST CORNER OF ALABAMA TONIGHT: The NWS in Huntsville has issued a winter weather advisory for the northwest corner of Alabama for tonight and early tomorrow; this includes Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Limestone, and Lawrence counties. Very tough call here; surface temperatures will creep down toward the freezing mark in this region, setting up some potential for icing issues.

Remember, freezing rain is rain that falls in liquid form when surface temperatures are at or below freezing. Entirely different from sleet, or ice pellets that fall in frozen form.

Most model guidance for now is printing temperatures in the mid 30s up in the northwest corner of the state tonight, but models don’t handle shallow cold air very well, and there could be some spots around Muscle Shoals, Russellville, Moulton, and Athens where temperatures dip into the 30-32 degree range, and a little icing is possible. This won’t be a major, widespread event most likely, but if you live in that part of Alabama, or are traveling there tonight or early tomorrow, be sure and take it easy since a little bridge icing is possible.

We do NOT expect any icing issues over the rest of North Alabama. No problems like that for Huntsville, Cullman, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Gadsden, Anniston, etc.

TO THE WEST: The most significant ice threat is around the Mississippi Delta, where the NWS Jackson has issued an ice storm warning for places around Greenville, MS, and adjacent parts of Arkansas and Louisiana.

THURSDAY SNOW FLAKES? As you can see, this forecast is a big can of worms. The next issue is a cold core upper low that is expected to move over North Alabama Thursday. Conventional logic and most parameters show just another cold, rainy day, but the dynamic cooling associated with the cold core has the potential for some snow somewhere over North Alabama. Running the 00Z GFS data through the BUFKIT analysis tool shows potential for a 1-2 inch strip of snow somewhere over North Alabama directly under the cold pool aloft, but no human or computer knows if, and exactly where that will happen for now.

We will mention primarily rain Thursday, with potential for snow mixed in at times. We will hold off on being more specific until we get closer to the event; take a few minutes and watch the Weather Xtreme video for the graphics and more details.

FINALLY, SOME SUNSHINE: The sun should finally break out Friday as drier air moves into the state following the departing upper low, and the weekend looks dry and seasonal, with highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s, which is where we should be this time of the year.

BIG TIME COLD NEXT WEEK? Yet another forecast issue is the potential for very cold temperatures across the continental U.S. next week. Most global models support this year as the polar vortex is displaced to the south, opening the gates to the Yukon. Sub zero cold is possible up north, and I sure get the idea the week will be very cold down here, but it is clearly too early to say just how cold. Stay tuned…

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 record this week’s episode tonight at 8:30 p.m. CST… Bob Baron of Baron Services will be our guest. You can watch live here.

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I will be doing a weather program this morning at Indian Valley Elementary School in Sylacauga… be looking for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 4:00 this afternoon. Enjoy the day and stay dry…

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