The Storm Prediction Center has now issued a PDS or Particularly Dangerous Situation Tornado Watch. These always get our attention because it means there is a good chance of a violent tornado happening within the watch area. The watch reaches all the way to the I-20 corridor which includes the WBRC Fox6 viewing area. The watch expires at 3am and includes Sumter, Hale, Green, Bibb, Shelby, Chilton, Coosa, Tallapoosa, Clay, and Talladega Counties.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms will track northward through the evening. We will likely see thunderstorms impacting the area as early as 9pm and tracking northeast. While most of what we'll see will be rain - it is possible we could see a tornado develop south of I-20. The greater threat as indicated by the model data suggests areas south of Montgomery. We'll be watching these areas closely through the evening.
High resolution model data suggests heavy rainfall moving into the area by 9pm.
The more widespread rain is expected to arrive after 11pm. Please note the individual thunderstorm cells south of the widespread rain. These individual cells are most likely to produce a tornado. We will be watching this area closely. Storms will tracking northeast through the overnight. If you have family or friends that attend school in Auburn, Troy, or just live in South of Montgomery - it would be a good idea to give them a call and let them know about the significant severe weather expected.
Aside from a tornado threat, there is also a threat for hail and heavy rainfall with this system. It might be a good idea to park your vehicle inside the garage just to be safe this evening.
The conditions are most favorable for tornado development through the evening mainly in South Alabama. The Significant Tornado Parameter values remain high overnight in South Alabama. I'm particularly concerned about Troy, Enterprise, Dothan, Ozark, and Brewton. Places around these cities and communities are in the bullseye for tornado development. It would not be out of the question for a significant EF3 or greater tornado to development in this part of the state. Please remain weather alert. The position of the warm front will be key in the northward extent of severe weather development. Models are keeping it to the south of the WBRC Fox6 viewing area, but we will have to monitor radar trends for changes.
The entire WBRC First Alert weather team is watching this developing weather situation. We'll keep you updated. Please make sure you have multiple ways to receive weather warnings including the WBRC First Alert weather app and NOAA weather radio - especially if you live south of I-20.
Please join us for WBRC Fox6 News beginning at 9pm for updates.
WBRC First Alert Chief Meteorologist
The rain and thunderstorms are right on schedule. For some of you, the NOAA weather radio may have gotten you up early. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch until 11am for areas south of I-20. Fred Hunter is tracking storms this morning.
Model data is still indicating the greatest risk for tornado development in South Alabama. Highway 80 southward is probably the most likely places for development. This is where we are seeing the most instability and wind shear. The Energy Helicity Index is highest in south of Montgomery. The EHI graphic below is based on the HRRR model. We will likely see significant severe weather in this area of increased instability and wind shear sometime this morning.
In most of the WBRC viewing area, we are going to be looking at very heavy rainfall, gusty winds, and possible small hail.
Most of the rain will clear by this afternoon with highs in the upper 60s. We'll likely see additional showers and thunderstorms tonight through Sunday morning. The severe weather threat appears a bit more limited for the rest of the weekend. It would not surprise me to see some damage winds and hail before this system exists the state tomorrow. Remain weather alert for the rest of the weekend with multiple ways to receive weather warnings.
WBRC First Alert Chief Meteorologist
Severe weather is expected Saturday and to a lesser extent Sunday across Alabama. As additional data arrives, I'm getting a better idea on where the greatest risk for severe storms will develop.
We will likely see thunderstorms after 3am Saturday and lasting into the mid-morning hours. This could be the main severe weather event. Models are suggesting the greater risk for severe storms will remain south of I-20. The greatest risk for severe storms is south of the Montgomery area extending south toward the Gulf Coast. This is the simulated reflectivity or "future radar" for tomorrow at 6am. The storms moving into West Alabama will likely be hail producers. In fact, large hail is possible. First Alert for hail in Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Sumter, Hale, and Green Counties for Saturday morning.
The graphic below is the Energy Helicity Index (EHI). This is one of my favorite severe weather tools. The EHI for Saturday morning is highest in South Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. The is the measurement of CAPE and Helicity. The idea - where those values are the highest is your best probability for severe storms including tornado development.
By mid-morning, the shift for severe weather shifts farther east and south based on the 4km NAM.
After mid-morning, we are expecting a break in the active weather. This may or may not allow the atmosphere time to recover for additional severe thunderstorm development. The instability will be there, but the wind shear will have decreased significantly by then. Overall, I think the severe risk will be much more limited Saturday afternoon/evening through Sunday.
The greatest risks locally for severe storms will come after 4am Saturday and continue as late as noon. If you live in Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Sumter, Greene, Hale, Bibb, Chilton, or Coosa Counties - you are in the area with the highest probability of seeing damaging winds, large hail, and/or tornadoes. For places farther south - the severe weather risk will increase dramatically. In fact, there's a possibility South Alabama could see some significant severe weather.
Please check back to the blog frequently, our mobile app, and WBRC Fox6 for changes in the forecast. It is possible we could see the primary threat shift a bit farther north.
WBRC Fox6 Chief Meteorologist
The weather pattern is active and we could see several rounds of severe storms across Alabama beginning tomorrow and ending sometime over the weekend. I'm starting to get a better idea of the overall weather picture as new data arrives.
First of all, I believe our severe threat tomorrow (Thursday) should remain low. The Storm Prediction Center has much of the state in a marginal risk. Based on current data, it is unlikely that risk will be upgraded.
What can we expect Thursday? Several rounds of heavy rainfall, some occasional gusty winds over 30mph, and the remote possibility of a brief tornado. We'll be monitoring the setup closely, but more than anything I'm expecting mainly rain for Thursday. Key severe weather parameters remain low. I expect the heaviest rainfall to occur late in the afternoon and continue through the night. Expect the peak time for rainfall between 5pm and 9pm.
FIRST ALERT: Stormy weather is possible across the state this weekend. The more I look at data the more I believe the greater threat for severe storms will occur on Saturday afternoon/evening instead of Sunday. There are also still some strong indications we could see the primary severe weather threat remain south of Montgomery and the I-85 corridor. We're not at a point to rule out severe weather across Central Alabama, but data is still suggesting the heaviest rainfall and greatest severe thunderstorm potential will impact South Alabama extending to the Gulf Coast. For places like Mobile, Gulf Shores, and Pensacola, the threat for severe weather looks high. In our local area, it is more likely you would see stronger storms south of I-20 than north of I-20.
We will see a round of showers and thunderstorms early Saturday and then another round during the afternoon/evening. We could see all types of severe storms including damaging winds, large hail, localized flooding, and tornadoes in at least some parts of the state. This is a dynamic system and should be watched. I've seen this type of setup go either way - either mainly rain with little to no severe storms or a high impact weather event.
Why am I not completely sold on widespread severe weather at this point? I'm not entirely sure how much the atmosphere will recover after the stabilizing effects of Saturday morning rainfall. Plus, how are will the warm front lift to our north? It will be critical to watch the warm front and its position. Areas south of the front are at the greater risk for severe thunderstorm development. I'm confident we will see widespread rainfall Saturday through Sunday. A wet weekend is shaping up with several inches of beneficial rainfall expected.
My advice is to keep a watchful eye on the weekend forecast for any changes. We could see the severe weather threat increase or possibly decrease as new data arrives. Of course, we'll provide plenty of updates via the WBRC First Alert weather app, social media, and on WBRC Fox6 News.
We're watching the weekend weather closely for the possibility of severe weather in Alabama. It's still early and much can change. We're looking at the potential for either a high impact severe weather event locally or severe weather that could be confined more to South Alabama. I want to stress this far out we have a good bit of uncertainty, but the ingredients are there and the system could affect your weekend plans.
The Storm Prediction Center is already highlighting their "Day 5" risk area. Their thinking is the system will have a higher severe weather threat Montgomery southward toward the Gulf Coast. This is based largely off the GFS model and the location of the highest instability/shear. Certainly not a bad forecast at this point. The concern is whether or not that instability streams a bit farther north or is limited by the coastal thunderstorm development. The Gulf of Mexico will be "wide open" if we do not realize the storm development along the coast priming our area for severe storms.
This is the surface map for Sunday morning. Note the position of the warm front. The warm front could remain south of us.
However, there are some indications we could see the warm front lift farther north. Areas south of the "red line" would be the focus for severe thunderstorm development because of the unstable and very juicy airmass.
Below is the GFS model output with helicity and (CAPE) instability for Saturday afternoon. While the highest instability remain farther south, it is concerning since the wind shear favor severe weather locally even if we achieve only modest instability. Dewpoint temperatures are forecast to reach the mid 60s based on both the GFS and Euro models through the afternoon and evening for Central Alabama.
Right now I would plan on at least some severe weather across our area Saturday afternoon/evening through Sunday morning. The best chances would likely remain south of I-20, but this could change. It is also possible we could see a more limited severe threat with storms confined to South Alabama northward to Montgomery. This type of setup favors severe thunderstorms that produce hail, strong winds, heavy rainfall, and even tornadoes. We need to watch this closely over the next few days as the high resolution data arrives. Be sure to check back to the blog frequently as well as our WBRC First Alert weather app, WBRC.com, and of course our newscasts.
WBRC First Alert Chief Meteorologist
I worked in Springfield, Missouri between 2005 to 2011 and during my time there I experienced an awful ice storm in January of 2007. I am talking about 2" of ice and days and weeks without power. While I don't see that much ice developing in SW Missouri on Friday, I do see enough ice to cause travel hazards and damage to trees and power lines that could result in power outages. It's still early out and things can and will likely change as we get closer to this potential ice event in Missouri on Friday.
Here is what the 18z NAM is showing at this point: Remember that amounts over .25" start to cause the bigger problems. Anything over .50" and the risk for tree and power line damage increases even more. Southeast Missouri looks to see the heaviest ice accumulation as of now. This zone could shift so keep up with the latest forecast through your local meteorologists and National Weather Service office in Springfield. I'll continue to keep an eye on things too.
Here is an overview for Springfield, MO: Time reads from right to left and the red bars represent freezing rain. The taller the bar then the more intense the rate of freezing rain. The data shows light freezing rain in the morning and heavy freezing rain in the afternoon before temperatures warm up enough that the rain no longer freezes on contact.
Here is another view of the data... the start of the freezing rain.... Low level moisture increases after midnight on Friday and the column eventually saturates and precipitation falls by mid-morning. The temperature line is in red and dew point is in green. If you follow it from ground up, you'll see it's below freezing at the surface and then above freezing higher up and that above freezing layer is called the warm nose. It's what causes the snow falling to melt and then freeze on objects in the shallow layer of freezing air at the surface.
Heavier precipitation arrives during the early afternoon hours in Springfield, MO according to this model run. The warm nose is really taking over at this point and the surface temperatures are starting to rise. There could be an 8-12 hour period of freezing rain before changing to rain. During that stretch of time on Friday morning, ice accumulation will be possible especially on elevated surfaces. Plan accordingly and remember to keep up with this evolving forecast. The precipitation type zone could shift and the heaviest ice accumulation zone could too.
Hope my Missouri followers are doing well,
Jill Gilardi WBRC First Alert Certified Meteorologist