Fay Finally Moving… Slowly

| August 22, 2008 @ 6:17 am | 7 Replies

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Nice to finally see some westward movement this morning… our friends on the eastern Florida coast sure need a break.

Not much change in the overall track or thinking overnight. Fay will hug the Gulf coast in coming days. It will be close to Panama City tomorrow afternoon, and near Gulf Shores early Sunday. After that, steering currents collapse again and Fay will stall somewhere over Southwest Alabama or South Mississippi.

It is important not to focus, or think that the heaviest rain with Fay will be along that center track line. While the heaviest rain is close to the center often at night; the rain bands can spread out at times, and I have seen many tropical systems like this with the heaviest rain as far as 200 miles north of the center. Therefore I believe much of Alabama has a shot at some heavy rain with this, but there isn’t much skill in identifying where those heavy rain bands will develop. See the QPF fields in the various models and there is great variation.

BOTTOM LINE FOR THE NORTHERN HALF OF ALABAMA: We will mention scattered showers and storms today, with an increase in the coverage tomorrow. But, most likely, the heaviest and most widespread rain will come Sunday and Monday, maybe even Tuesday. Rain totals of 2 to 5 inches are likely through Tuesday, with potential for heavier amounts in isolated shots. Amounts over the southern half of the state will be in the 5 to 10 inch range. We note the QPF graphic from HPC suggests up to 20 inches of rain down in the Florida panhandle. Watch the Weather Xtreme video for all of the graphics associated with this discussion.

I really don’t expect a problem with tornadoes; I guess it is not out of the question, but no doubt heavy rain is the biggest threat from Fay for our part of Alabama.

ON THE COAST: In addition to heavy rain and a flood threat, winds along the Gulf coast will be in the 20 to 40 mph range, with higher gusts over the weekend. This is for the area from Panama City westward to Gulf Shores. I don’t think we will see too many problems from wind, although a few downed trees and power lines are possible in scattered spots.

NEXT WEEK: The rain should finally taper off Wednesday as Fay lifts northeast into the mid-latitude westerlies. Temperatures will also rebound to values near average for late August in Alabama.

OTHER TROPICAL NEWS: Invest 94L, the trailing tropical wave in the Central Atlantic, has a chance to become a tropical depression in coming days as it moves to the west/northwest. This one should be just north of Hispanolia by the middle of next week, and a high to the north of the system has the potential to move it in the direction of the Florida peninsula again. But, that could change, of course. This one will be called Gustav. Hey, we don’t name them, we just forecast them.

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Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 3:30 this afternoon… J.B. and the gang will keep the blog updated with fresh information through the day as we continue to watch Fay….

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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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