Severe Storms Likely Across Alabama Tomorrow

| January 10, 2020 @ 3:33 pm

RADAR CHECK: Rain along with a few thunderstorms are over the western third of Alabama this afternoon; the rest of the state is experiencing mostly cloudy and mild conditions. Severe storms have developed well to the west across parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, ahead of a storm system moving in our direction.

SEVERE WEATHER THREAT TOMORROW: There is little change in the thinking about tomorrow; we have a fairly significant threat of severe thunderstorms across all of Alabama. SPC, in their late mooring update, expanded the “enhanced risk” (level 3/5) to include most all of Alabama.

A reminder, don’t get too worried about the risk categories, colors, or lines on these maps; just know all of Alabama has a risk of severe thunderstorms.

THE SYSTEM: The most impressive part of the incoming storm system is the wind field; new model data continues to show a low level jet (5,000 feet off the ground) of 60-85 knots over much of the state (70-100 mph), and it won’t take much to get some of that down to the surface with the line of storms. This also leads to high SRH (Storm Relative Helicity) values, or veering of the wind with altitude in relation to storm motion. This will lead to potential to rotating updrafts, and a few tornadoes. There is a moderate amount of instability; models are probably underestimating the potential instability as surface temperatures should reach the 70s tomorrow afternoon before the storms arrive.

TIMING: The window for severe storms will open up in far West Alabama around 10:00 a.m. The line of severe storms will roll across the state during the afternoon hours; the threat in East Alabama should wind down around 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. This will be a mainly daytime event.

THREATS: The main threat tomorrow will come from damaging winds along the line of storms. Based on the forecast wind profiles, the damage potential could be fairly widespread. Also, a few tornadoes are possible in the line, and with any discrete storms that form ahead of the line. A strong tornado or two (EF-2 or higher) can’t be ruled out. The risk of hail is lower, but it is possible.

IMPORTANT WARNING NOTE: Pay close attention to severe thunderstorm warnings tomorrow. Straight line winds will be capable of producing tornado-like damage as the line of storms passes through. In fact, on a day like tomorrow I would go through your tornado plan if you are in a severe thunderstorm warning polygon. I would also not recommend being in a mobile home as these storms pass through; seriously consider going to your place of shelter well before the line of storms arrives. The winds tomorrow with the storms can knock down hundreds of trees across the state, and can also make a mobile home roll or flip.

GRADIENT WIND: A strong pressure gradient will set up tomorrow, and southerly surface winds (not related to thunderstorms) will average 15-30 mph, with occasional gusts to 40 mph possible. Be sure and secure loose objects on your property that might go airborne. A wind advisory is in effect.

RAIN: Rain amounts of 1 to 2 inches are likely tomorrow, but the storms will be moving quickly, and for now we aren’t expecting widespread flooding issues. Some localized problems are certainly possible, however.

STORM ANXIETY: In the weather enterprise, we walk a very fine line between honestly describing the magnitude of a severe weather threat, and creating storm anxiety. Just remember, if you have a good way of getting warnings and have a good plan, you will be safe and we will get through the day together. You won’t be alone.

GET THE WARNING: Be sure WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts) are enabled on your phone, and get the free ABC 33/40 Weather app as well. The app enables you to choose the warnings you receive, and is polygon based. Every Alabama home and business needs a NOAA Weather Radio as a second tier; that system is not tied to any cell network. Never, never rely on an outdoor siren. They are designed to reach only a limited number of people outdoors.

KNOW YOUR SAFE PLACE: In a site built home, it is a small room, on the lowest floor, preferably near the center of the house, and away from windows. You do not have to be underground. For those that live in a trailer, you can’t stay there. Identify the nearest safe place (community shelter, business, etc), and know how to get there quickly. Never be in a vehicle.

HAVE A READINESS KIT: In your safe place, have helmets for everyone, including adults. We also recommend portable air horns (if you need help), and hard sole shoes (if you have to walk across a tornado debris field to get help).

KNOW HOW TO FIND YOUR HOUSE ON A MAP: We don’t have much choice; we have to use maps before and during severe weather events. Know how to find your house on a map. Identify the county where you live, and know the counties near you. During the actual event itself, I am wall to wall on TV and can’t do individual briefings for those geographically challenged. This is a very important skill to learn.

WHY ARE WE HAVING A TORNADO THREAT IN JANUARY? Because in Dixie Alley, it happens. We have experienced 139 tornadoes during the month of January since 1950. In fact, on this date in 1975 a tornado moved through Pell City and Ragland in St. Clair County, killing one person and injuring many more. More recently, some recall the January 23, 2012 tornadoes; two were killed in Jefferson County county.

Sunday’s weather will be dry; with a mix of sun and clouds the high will be in the mid to upper 60s.

NEXT WEEK: Moist air returns to Alabama Monday with a chance of rain by afternoon, and rain is likely statewide Tuesday. The weather will be mild with a high in the upper 60s Monday, followed by low to mid 70s Tuesday. Showers and strong storms are likely Wednesday ahead of a cold front, then we expect cooler, drier air in here for the end of the week with highs back in the 50s. See the Weather Xtreme video for maps, graphics, and more details.

BEACH FORECAST: Click here to see the AlabamaWx Beach Forecast Center page.

WEATHER BRAINS: Don’t forget you can listen to our weekly 90 minute show anytime on your favorite podcast app. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including our meteorologists here at ABC 33/40.

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Look for my next Weather Xtreme video here by 7:00 a.m. Monday… and of course we will have frequent updates here over the next 36 hours. Enjoy the weekend and stay safe!

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Category: Alabama's Weather, ALL POSTS, Weather Xtreme Videos

About the Author ()

James Spann is one of the most recognized and trusted television meteorologists in the industry. He holds the AMS CCM designation and television seals from the AMS and NWA. He is a past winner of the Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year from both professional organizations.

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