Winter Storm FAQ

| January 8, 2011 @ 4:09 pm | 106 Replies

Scroll down for a treasure trove of information on what is coming our way. All the videos, maps, etc should answer many questions, but let’s break down some of the most important questions…

*WHEN? A wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain could begin over Southwest Alabama as early as 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. tomorrow. By this we are talking Washington, Clarke, Monroe, Choctaw, Marengo, and Wilcox for that early start. For the Tuscaloosa/Birmingham metro areas, a wintry mix will begin by mid-afternoon (2:00-5:00), but initially surface temperatures will be above freezing and we won’t expect any travel problems before dark. For East Alabama, it all begins in the 4:00-7:00 p.m. time frame. For North-Central Alabama (the ABC 33/40 viewing area), getting to church, and home from church should not be a problem.

The worst of the storm will come from 8:00 tomorrow night through 8:00 Monday morning. The precipitation will be over by late morning Monday.

TRAVEL BY ROAD? Roads will become slick and dangerous over Alabama Sunday night. The NWS in Mobile is concerned about a major ice storm for some of their counties in South Alabama, generally north of of a line from Grove Hill to Monroeville to Greenville to Luverne, and even down there bridges could become a sheet of ice. Up this way, heavy snow and some ice will make for difficult, if not impossible travel by late Sunday night and through Monday morning. If we see as much snow as we are predicting across North Alabama, all of this snow won’t melt Monday afternoon, and we could see lingering problems into Tuesday morning.

TRAVEL BY AIR? There will be major issues with snow, and perhaps some ice, at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport and Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta. It will be very difficult to fly out of these airports Monday morning, and expect major delays all the way through Monday night. I would not be surprised if these airports had to close for a brief period. Also, keep in mind snow will be an issue for the airports at Nashville and Memphis.

IS THIS LIKE THE BLIZZARD OF 1993? No. This storm is not in the same league, although it will be very memorable. It is rare to have a snow this significant across Alabama.

CAN WE EXPECT POWER OUTAGES? We all have great concern that there will be strip of freezing rain somewhere through Central or South Alabama that will bring enough ice load for trees and power lines to come down. I would say the greatest risk of this will be south of a line from Eutaw to Clanton to Alex City to Lafayette, and north of a line from Grove Hill to Monroeville to Greenville to Luverne to Eufaula. There won’t be serious icing across all of that region, but a strip of heavy freezing rain and a major ice load is a very real possibility.

To the north, heavy snow could result in some power outages over North Alabama as well, but they should not be as widespread as the ice zone to the south.

WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF THIS FORECAST BEING WRONG? There is ALWAYS a chance the forecast is wrong! But, confidence is very high in the overall event… the issue is small scale details now we can’t determine until the storm system is formed and we can see it clearly on radar and satellite. There will be clearly heavy snow over North Alabama, and a chance of significant ice somewhere over Central or South Alabama.

DURING THE STORM, CAN I HEAR YOU VIA RADIO: Yes. In Birmingham, we are on the Cox station family. WZZK (104.7), WODL (97.3), WBHK (98.7), among others. In Tuscaloosa, it is the Citadel family of stations… including B101.7 and 95.3 “The Bear”. And, over in East Alabama, we will be on WTDR, Thunder 92.7 in Anniston/Oxford.

And, you know my two points…. in every Alabama winter storm…

*There will always be those who are delighted with the amount of snow they see, and others will be severely disappointed.
*There will be surprises.

Stay tuned…


Category: Alabama's Weather, Winter Weather

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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