There are many links provided by the National Weather Service that discuss: heat safety, the meaning of a heat watch and warning, heat index, what to do during a heat wave and common heat related illnessess. Click here: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/heat/index.shtml
So far, extreme heat has yet to settle in across Alabama but that is certainly possible if not likely to happen this summer. You can count on Fox 6 to let you know when dangerous heat might build in so that you can prepare.
So if you have some free time either today or the next couple of days, it doesn't hurt to review some of the links provided.
In the meantime, enjoy the refreshing air in place because the muggy air is going to arrive late on Sunday! The muggy air expected for Memorial Day into next week is the kind that will require caution.
Jill Gilardi Meteorologist
Even though clouds can't actually speak, their shape sure says a lot! On my way to Fox 6, I noticed how puffy the clouds were and the fact that it was before 10AM and they already showed signs of vertical growth spoke volumes to me.
There is plenty of moisture in the atmosphere for cloud development, but that's not the only thing needed for clouds to grow and potentially form into showers or storms. LIFT! Lift can either come in the form of surface heating or from a front and we have both of those things present.
The convective temperature today in Birmingham is 83° which means once the air reaches that temperature we'll start to see showers and storms popping. Temperatures are very close to that as of 10AM in many locations. Model data jives with this pretty well and shows activity popping by noon.
SIMULATE RADAR IMAGES:
No only will surface heating cause showers and storms to pop but an approaching front will aid in the lifting process. Some of the storms during the afternoon and early evening hours could grow to strong or severe levels and that's why there is a marginal risk across most of the Fox 6 viewing area.
We aren't expecting widespread strong to severe storms but the possibility certainly there for a few storms to produce damaging wind gusts and severe hail. Some storms may just be strong and produce wind gusts up to 40mph or 50 mph and marginal size hail up to nickel size. Other hazards include heavy rainfall and lightning.
Be prepared to possibly have outdoor games or practices either delayed or cancelled due to stormy weather. Remember that lightning can strike over 10 miles away from a storm. The Fox 6 weather app will be a useful tool today and if you have any question as to whether a storm is nearby then check out the radar map.
We'll monitor storm development today and alert you if any strong or severe storm forms!
Stay weather aware,
Jill Gilardi Fox 6 Meteorologist
You'll hear the Fox 6 Storm Warn team from time to time talking about dew points and we try and explain the importance and meaning but you may still be confused as to why we emphasize it rather than relative humidity. The dew point determines how comfortable you will feel. The lower the number, the more comfortable and drier the air feels. The dew point is the temperature at which the moisture (water vapor) in the air begins to condense. So that means, when the air temperature equals the dew point temperature then humidity is 100% and saturation occurs. The warmer the air is, the more moisture it can hold.
There is a comfort scale that goes hand and hand with dew points. When dew points are in the 50s or lower it feels comfortable outside and you don't sweat as quickly. When dew points rise into the 60s, you start to feel uncomfortable and you sweat much faster because your body is trying to cool off. When the dew point is in the 70s or even 80s, it feels oppressive outside and hard to breathe. The reason the dew point is important during the warmer months is this. When you perspire, the water on your skin evaporates and cools your body. This is the body's natural temperature regulating system at work. When the dew point is high, the evaporation rate is very slow because there is so much water vapor in the air, and you don't get the cooling effect from your wet skin.
Higher dew points also effect how frizzy hair gets. Low dew points mean a good hair day and high dew points mean lots of frizz.
So not only is the dew point useful as a comfort index but also helps in cloud formation. On a summer day, when the sun heats the ground, the air immediately above the ground also warms up. Since warm air is lighter than cold air above it, it rises into the sky. As it rises, the air cools until it reaches the temperature that it can no longer hold the water vapor. That temperature is the dew point. Then, a cloud forms.
Dew point temperatures are the best moisture indicator than compared to relative humidity. You need moisture in order for clouds to form and especially for storms. There is some relationship to relative humidity because the higher the dew point temperature then the higher the relative humidity. Relative humidity is dependent on what the temperature and dew point temperature are. If the temperature is 90° and the dew point is 80° then the relative humidity is 67%. If the temperature is 110° and the dew point is 80° then the relative humidity is 33%. In this case, change in temperature changes relative humidity. Can you see why dew point is a better "absolute" measure of the moisture content in the air than relative humidity?
Here's a screen grab of my video forecast on www.myfoxal.com/weather and notice the temperature is 70°, the dew point is 69° and the humidity is 96%. You can also see how cloudy it is outside! If it was 70° with a dew point of 26° then the relative humidity would be 19% and most likely clear outside.
So expect a high frizz factor through Tuesday. Comfy air may arrive by Wednesday! Fingers crossed!!!
Jill Gilardi Fox 6 Meteorologist
El Niño is the warming of the equatorial Pacific water which causes an increase in tropical rain and thunderstorm development. It's likely that El Niño will continue this summer and there's an 80% chance it will linger through the rest of 2015. El Niño has global impacts: some negative, some positive. Even for the Southeast U.S., some El Niño influences are beneficial; some not so beneficial.
HAPPENING NOW IMAGES:
El Niño impacts across Alabama tend to be greatest in the winter and early spring-time. State Climatologist Dr. John Christy says there is no real summertime signal. If El Niño continues after September when the jet stream starts to crank up again and when there are more temperature differences across the globe, then we might see more impacts. Summer crops may be impacted by increased rainfall and a more active jet stream across the Southeast could lower the chance for hurricane development during the fall peak season.
If El Niño persists into the winter and spring, a more active jet stream pattern can linger across the Southeast resulting in cooler and wetter than normal conditions. Christy says, the impacts can vary from north to south across the state. North Alabama tends to not see as many impacts than closer to the coast. A more active storm track can also mean more cold season tornadoes in Florida.
PATTERN MORE TYPICAL OF LATE FALL INTO WINTER:
Here is some great information from the Southeast Climate extension office: http://agroclimate.org/climate/ENSO-Impacts-southeast.pdf
So for now, with no signal towards any particular weather pattern, expect conditions to be all over the place. Long range model data continues to signal a wetter pattern unfolding the rest of May. It's related to a slight shift in the jet stream and surface features that will allow Gulf moisture to build across the Southeast.
By: Jill Gilardi Fox 6 Meteorologist
The visible satellite picture is showing quite a few clouds across Alabama this morning. We'll gradually begin to see clearing during the afternoon. Most of the sunshine is north of I-20.
We will likely have a few days of dry weather before we'll see the rain chances return. For many, these will be welcome rain chances since we've been a bit dry for the last few weeks. A cool front is sliding to our south today and should knock down the mugginess a bit. Slightly cooler and drier air will move into the state behind the front.
If you have outdoor plans this week, I don't really see the rain chances climbing until Thursday night and Friday morning. We'll also see some spotty showers and storms over the weekend. While the rain chances will climb, I do not see setup producing widespread rain. This means watering the lawn and garden will still be necessary for most folks. The NAM computer model is indicating rain is likely through the first part of Friday, but rain chances should decrease later in the day.
Temperatures this week will reach the lower to mid 80s daily with morning lows not quite as chilly as last week. We will likely wake up to daily temperatures around 64-67 degrees.
Watching the Tropics: We've already had one named tropical storm and it's not even hurricane season. The GFS model is hinting at a storm that will form near South Florida, tracking across Florida, and moving into the Gulf of Mexico sometime late May.
I wouldn't get too excited at this point because we're attempting a forecast far into the future. But, it might be something to watch. The GFS did a pretty solid job picking up on Ana forming a few weeks prior to its formation. Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are already in the lower 80s.
We'll keep you updated. I hope you can join us on Fox6 News later today.
Fox6 Chief Meteorologist
The dry and hot weather pattern in place slowly breaks down this weekend and especially early next week. A trough of low pressure aka a dip in the jet stream, has been poised across the Midwest resulting in daily rounds of showers and storms. Meanwhile, the Southeast has been basking under lots of sunshine and above normal temperatures due to a ridge of high pressure in place aka a rise in the jet stream. Remember, the jet stream is fast flowing air at upper levels that separates air masses. Rising motion takes place on the eastern side of a trough and as the trough slides eastward, rain chances will shift with it. So in a nut shell our dry pattern turns into a wetter and slightly cooler one next week.
The first chance for rain, mainly across north Alabama is on Saturday afternoon. Any activity that develops is not expected to be severe at this time. A severe weather outbreak is likely however across the moderate risk area in Kansas and Oklahoma. If you live in Marion, Winston, Cullman, Blount, Etowah or Cherokee county then don't be shocked if you see a passing shower or storm. Stay weather aware if you have outdoor plans, especially if you plan to be out on a lake or river.
There's a slight chance that decaying storms on Sunday morning clip parts of north Alabama otherwise most of the Fox 6 viewing area should stay dry. Counties located along the highway 278 corridor stand the best chance. If you have outdoor plans with Mom, it looks pretty good at this time. Definitely check back in the morning between 6-8 on Fox 6 in case the rain chances increase.
Rain chances spike to 50% due to the trough of low pressure sliding eastward and lift increasing from west to east on Monday afternoon into Tuesday morning. A very unstable air mass will likely develop on Monday afternoon across west Alabama and that's where severe storms will be possible. The counties that stand the best chance for possible severe storms are; Pickens, Lamar, Fayette and Marion. Stay weather aware if you have outdoor plans on Monday afternoon and evening. I don't think this severe threat is very high nor long lasting because the stronger winds aloft that support severe storms will be lifting out. We'll continue to monitor model trends though.
A big shift in the pattern is expected on Monday and then it looks to continue through the following weekend with several chances for showers and storms. A cold front arrives on Monday but the future of it differs between long range models. The GFS brings us a lot more rain through the 16th than compared to the EURO. Either way, the chance for rain will be elevated each day and temperatures won't be as hot. Instead of highs in the middle and upper 80s we'll see highs in the lower 80s and upper 70s.
LONG RANGE COMPUTER MODEL RAINFALL PREDICTIONS THROUGH MAY 16TH:
Even though rain chances look to increase over the next week or two, I don't see a strong signal for severe weather, especially not the tornado producing type.
I know my lawn and garden will be happy for a free drink of water,
Jill Gilardi Fox 6 Meteorologist
This weather reminds me of a Steeler's Wheel song back in my radio days. It was a catchy tune called "Stuck In The Middle With You." While we might not have clowns and jokers, we do have severe weather and low pressure.
We remain stuck with this persistent ridge of high pressure on top of us. The high pressure is keeping the rain away. On top of that dew point temperatures, remain in the 50s across the area. The dew point has a lot to do with our comfort factor. The lower the number the better we typically feel when we are outdoors. There was a tornado outbreak across The Plains yesterday and more severe weather is expected over the next few days there.
This is what our upper-level map looks like through tomorrow - a ridge across the East and a trough in the West. If you look off the coast of the Carolinas - there is a low forming. This is a sub-tropical system that has a strikingly similar appearance to a hurricane or tropical storm. This system is non-tropical because the core temperatures are cool. Tropical systems are warm core systems.
This system is being monitored closely by The National Hurricane Center. It will likely result in some heavy rain for places like Savannah and Charleston this weekend.
Locally, the theme will be warmer temperatures. Perhaps, a few folks will call them hot temperatures. I'm fully expecting highs Saturday to reach the lower 90s for our counties south of I-20. Hot temperatures on the NAM forecast map for Saturday afternoon.
The mugginess will also return over the weekend with the return of some Gulf moisture. I cannot completely rule out a stray shower or thunderstorms this weekend. If we do see some rain, it would likely be in the northern portion of our viewing area.
For most of us, the dry weather will stick around through at least Monday morning.
Monday and Tuesday: We will likely see a chance for rain and thunderstorms late Monday and again Tuesday. I still think the shower and thunderstorms activity will be somewhat disorganized. Models indicate a cool front moving through the state by Wednesday and then stalling across the Gulf Coast.
The Bottom Line: Find a way to cool off this weekend and you might just have to run the sprinklers a few days. Have a great Thursday and I'll see you on Fox6 News.
Fox6 Chief Meteorologist
Many of you might be thinking that it sure has been a quiet severe weather season so far and you are correct. Since January there have been 214 tornado reports in the U.S. and typically by the end of April the 3 year average is around 303 reports. The yearly average is 1,300. Central Alabama tornado reports from January through April 30th are much lower this year than compared to the past 5 years. The National Weather Service in Birmingham counts 9 tornado reports so far.
Typically, April is the most active month climatologically in Alabama. The second worst month for tornadoes is March and once we get past about the second week in May, we'll be past the climatological worst. That's not to say we can't and don't have tornadoes from late May and on but that the average is significantly lower. Alabama actually has two severe weather seasons; one in the spring and the other in the fall. During those times of year the jet stream is much more active and located farther south across the United States. Strong winds aloft are just one of the key ingredients needed for severe weather.
So why has this year been fairly quiet until recently? The lower tornadic activity is likely due to a continuous trough aka dip in the jet stream across the east which is a cool weather pattern. The east early this year saw record snowfall and colder than average temperatures. The west on the other hand experienced a rise in the jet stream known as a ridge. The ridge caused continued dryness and above average temperatures.
A more typical severe weather pattern developed in April but mainly across the Central Plains. The Fox 6 Storm Warn Team does not see a signal towards a severe weather pattern for The South through May 15th. It looks like the pattern that sets up over the next couple of weeks is similar to the type of pattern that unfolds in June where most of the severe weather sets up across the Midwest. Of course, looking 384 hours out into the future a lot can change between now and then. If it does, we will be sure to let you know.
Jill Gilardi Fox 6 Meteorologist
"Hoping we continue to see a fairly quiet severe weather season..."
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