Some Winter Weather Issues Tomorrow?

| December 14, 2010 @ 2:40 pm | 22 Replies

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RIGHT NOW: Actually feels pretty good this afternoon. Birmingham is up to 35 degrees at 2:00… so it looks like we will reach our forecast high of 36. We also note the air bone dry, with a dewpoint of only 2 degrees in Birmingham (that makes the humidity 24 percent). Most of the cities up in the Tennessee Valley, however, are still below freezing. It is only 30 degrees at both Huntsville and Decatur at 2:00.

THE ICE SITUATION: Clouds will invade the state tonight ahead of a weak wave to the west, and this is expected to squeeze out some light precipitation tomorrow afternoon. Thermal values still suggest there is potential for a period of freezing rain for parts of North Alabama.

Watch the Weather Xtreme video for all of the graphics that go along with this discussion… here are the important points for tomorrow as we see it now.

*The best chance of freezing rain will be north of a line from Tuscumbia to Cullman to Piedmont. While there could be some freezing rain to the south of that line, it looks like temperatures will be above freezing in places like Tuscaloosa and Birmingham as the rain begins. Anniston is a very close call.

The one thing we will have to watch for is evaporative cooling… with these very low dewpoints, some evaporation is likely before the lower column is saturated, and that could pull temperatures down to levels lower than suggested on guidance. Just something to keep in mind.

*The precipitation should begin during the midday hours, in the 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. time frame. It will be a little more widespread as the afternoon progresses. There will be no travel problems tomorrow morning.

*This is not a major ice storm; no power outages are expected. The issue is icing on bridges and overpasses where temperatures stay below freezing. Light freezing rain will lead to some slick spots, making for tricky driving during the afternoon and evening hours. The greatest ice accumulation, most likely, will be over Northeast Alabama, where it is harder for the cold air to exit. But, even there it should not be especially heavy (under 1/10 of an inch).

*The problem won’t be long term; temperatures will warm steadily tomorrow night, and even most Northeast Alabama communities should be above freezing by 9:00 p.m.

*The NWS Huntsville continues a winter weather advisory for the counties in their CWA tomorrow for the potential for bridge icing (they cover the counties in the Tennessee Valley, and Cullman County).

**We have just received word that Cullman County and Cullman City schools will be closed tomorrow due to the possibility of icy bridges**

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: We warm well into the 50s Thursday; some communities south of I-20 could reach the low 60s as the warm front moves north of us. A few periods of rain are likely into Friday, and Friday will be cooler as the front pushes south again. Temperature forecasts on Thursday and Friday will be very tricky.

THE WEEKEND: A strengthening surface low will move out of the Gulf of Mexico into South Georgia Saturday, which is actually a favored track for snow over North Alabama if we have a sufficient amount of cold air. For now, it looks like the thermal values are a little too warm for snow, but it is a very close call over Northwest Alabama. We will stick with a cold rain on Saturday, and make changes in the forecast as needed as the weekend approaches. After the rain Friday night and Saturday, Sunday will feature a clearing sky, with a chilly north breeze and a high in the low 40s.

CHRISTMAS WEEK: Monday and Tuesday look dry with seasonal temperatures (highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s). Beyond that, there is no forecast confidence since we have seen just about every possible solution on model runs over the past week. We will be able to give our first Christmas Day forecast by this Friday. Watch the Weather Xtreme video for long range ideas.

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Category: Alabama's Weather

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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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