The National Weather Service expanded the Winter Storm Warning because of growing confidence in a high impact Winter weather event. Etowah, St. Clair, Jefferson, and Tuscaloosa Counties are now included in the warning area. Models are now indicating we could see more sleet than snow with this setup. The snow potential is likely to come much later and probably after sunset.
The greatest risk this morning for Winter weather will include areas south of I-20. At this point, the threat for any significant travel impacts appear low. Road temperatures are above freezing and temperatures through the morning will likely rise a couple of degrees. For cities and communities north of I-20/59 this morning and afternoon, the precipitation chances will remain somewhat lower. This is one of those rare events where the farther north you travel the lower the Winter weather threat. This is simply because we have significantly more moisture in the southern part of the state.
Now - Noon: Use caution when driving. Sleet is likely to increase through the late morning hours. Most of the sleet will occur south of I-20. Slick spots could develop on bridges and overpasses. Most primary roads should be okay. Check back frequently with WBRC Fox6 News for updates.
Noon - 5pm: We will continue to see spotty rain showers, drizzle, sleet, and possibly even some limited freezing rain. I would limit driving - especially south of the I-20 corridor toward sunset.
5pm - Midnight: There is a better chance for seeing more widespread sleet and even snow develop. To a lesser extent, we could see some freezing rain. It is possible some places could receive upwards of 2+" of sleet/snow accumulations. Good idea to limit travel. We will likely see some slick roads and travel trouble spots. Elevated roadways could see some "black ice" or glaze develop. Some of the higher snowfall accumulations could be east of I-65.
Midnight - 8am Saturday: Limit travel. Much will depend on how much precipitation we receive. The snow/rain/sleet mix will move east and we should begin to see some clearing as the much colder Arctic air arrives. Expect overnight lows in the lower 20s. There will be slick spots, but improving conditions are expected by late morning Saturday.
Bottom line: This is the time when we start looking at observations, radar data, and ground truth reports to help build our forecast. Analysis indicates this is more of a sleet or ice pellet event than snow event. Keep in mind, we could have some quick bursts of snowfall later in the evening that could accumulate. There will be quite a few places with ZERO snowfall. Sleet can result in slick roadways especially as temperatures fall well below freezing.
We'll have frequent updates on WBRC Fox6 News and on our WBRC Fox6 Weather app.
WBRC First Alert Chief Meteorologist