Last week it was snow and now it's ice some of us will be dealing with us early Friday morning. This particular situation will not be full of as many surprises because there is no upper-level low involved. This is a situation where we have cold air invading from the East. The classic Winter wedge effect and precipitation happening at the same time.
Where? The main concern for travel issues will be Cullman, Blount, Etowah, Cherokee, Calhoun, Cleburne, and Randolph Counties. While ice will not be everywhere, it will most likely accumulate on elevated roadways as well as hilly terrain. Your sidewalk or driveway may also be slick. You will probably notice it building up on powerlines and in trees.
What Time? Light rain and drizzle will begin falling after 3am and continue through Friday morning. The peak time of freezing rain development is probably going to be between 4 and 8am. Before and after that - temperatures will be slightly above freezing at 33-36 degrees. Highs on Friday will reach the lower 40s.
There are some misconceptions about freezing rain. Freezing rain is not frozen raindrops. It sometimes starts as snow failing from a cloud and then melting through a warm layer and then freezing on-contact when surface temperatures are at 32 or below.
The setup for Friday's possible freezing rain is the result of cold air "wedging" underneath the Appalachians. This usually just means a colder day for people in East Alabama, but when there is precipitation involved it can mean travel issues. The NAM model clearly shows that wedge Friday morning. You can see the colder colors on the map creeping in from the East.
Fortunately, the models are not painting much precipitation. The NAM is very light on the rain. It has backed off just a bit. The GFS still squeezes out some light rain and drizzle by daybreak. As you can see at midnight, we are still dry.
By 7am, the GFS does show some light rain in Northeast Alabama. Again, the prime-time for ice development will most likely be between 4am and 7am.
Most of the Fox 6 viewing area will experience rain tomorrow morning and for most it will just be a cold rain and drizzle. We'll monitor the situation for any changes and keep the updates flowing here on the blog. Right now - forecast models are suggesting a minor ice event for Northeast Alabama. This still means there could be some slick spots and dangerous roads so take it easy and use caution early tomorrow morning.
Fox 6 Chief Meteorologist