The weather is going to be downright nasty in the coming days. The combination of heavy rain, sleet, snow, and the cold temperatures that go along with the wintry precipitation.
Let's talk about why this mess is happening. It's a strong upper-level low. We watched it last week spinning of the coast of California. This week it's making its trek across the Southeast. Cold air, abudant Gulf Moisture, and the spin of the low are the main ingredients.
The RPM model is suggesting between 2.5-3" of rainfall across Central Alabama with higher amounts to the south before the low kicks off to the northeast.
Let's breakdown what we can expect in the coming days.
This afternoon/evening: Rain (some heavy at times tonight). Sleet mixes with rain with even some snow flurries at the onset of precipiation. High temperatures will reach the lower to mid 40s today. Expect overnight lows to remain well-above freezing tonight. Lows will range from 38-43 degrees.
Tomorrow: There is a 100% rain chance in the forecast tomorrow with highs only in the mid 40s. Rain will be heavy at times. It's possible we could even have a few thunderstorms. While no severe weather is expected, you could hear the rumble of thunder at times.
Tomorrow night/Wednesday morning: We must watch carefully. As the system exits, a secondary cold front (very strong one) will move in. There will likely be enough moisture to left to interact with the cold air that's rushing in. This is where our rain to snow changeover will take place. One of the critical temperatures we examine is the 850mb (or at 5,000ft level). The 850mb freezing level will be well south of us by Wednesday morning. This means any precipitation that does fall will be snow.
How much? I don't think we'll see a lot. But, we all know even a small amount gets plenty of attention in these parts. Based on my experience, the model data, and how this system is evolving I would say it's possible to see some accumulation on the grassy areas and even on rooftops. Higher elevations of East Alabama would be more prone to seeing some snowfall that the rest of the state.
Another big concern is slick roads. Think about it - all this cold air is coming at the end of a heavy rain event. There still could be some puddles left from Tuesday's heavy rain. Temperatures Wednesday morning will be hovering around freezing. Highs will not be much warmer. For folks doing some Thanksgiving travel, please be aware of possible slick spots on Wednesday. This is especially true in higher elevations and along bridges and overpasses.
Thanksgiving Forecast: Thanksgiving still looks sunny with highs in the 40s. The temperatures will gradually warm a bit Friday and over the weekend.
Iron Bowl: A light jack might be needed, but overall it will be comfortable. Expect kickoff temperatures around 58 with partly sunny skies.
Stay close to weather information over the next several days as this systems evolves. We'll keep you update online and on Fox 6 News.
Fox 6 Chief Meteorologist
The "S word" is the word most dreaded by TV meteorologists. Despite our best efforts it strikes panic in viewers. Memories of a state crippled by snow and ice suddenly appear. Thoughts go back to March, 1993. There's no need to start planning for Defcon 5 at this point. But, I would have an umbrella and big coat handy for early next week. Yes, snow is in the forecast. But, we're looking at a very small amount for a brief period in the northern part of Alabama.
If we look at a map and look at Marion, Winston, Cullman, Blount, Etowah, and Cherokee Counties and draw a line northward - this is where the greatest threat of snow "could" be by Monday night and Tuesday. Most of what we will see is a cold rain with sleet mixed in and a few snowflakes mixed in. As Dr. Tim Coleman pointed out in yesterday's blog if we were a few months later in the season, this could very well be a classic Alabama snow producer. This upper-level low will provide enough dynamic cooling to likely produce some wintry weather between Monday night and early Wednesday morning. Thanksgiving travel should not be an issue.
The European Model is trying very hard to produce snowfall across the state. Keep in mind I'm only sharing this model data to be transparent in our forecast process. I do not believe the European model will verify. But, it's fun to look at. We will continue to monitor a variety of forecast models in the coming days to iron out the fine details with this forecast.
What about Thanksgiving and Black Friday for the shoppers? I believe we're in great shape. Temperatures will be cool with highs in the 50s and the return of sunshine.
We'll keep you posted as the forecast evolves on the next several days. While some wintry weather is possible mixed with a cold rain early next week, I do not think we'll see a situation where travel problems develop. Temperatures will likely remain above freezing across much of the Fox 6 viewing area next week.
Stay with Fox 6 for updates online and on-air.
Fox 6 Chief Meteorologist
We've been fine-tuning the forecast for this weekend. If you haven't heard, there is a threat for snowfall late Friday into Saturday. The forecast rumor-mill is probably a bit more interesting than the actually forecast. This particular system is very moisture starved which means little in the way of measurable precipitation. However, what we are lacking in moisture we are making up in cold air. The 540 thickness line makes its all the way to Florida this weekend.
The best chance for seeing a dusting of snowfall (mainly in the grassy areas) will be areas north of I-20. Many places will not even see any snowfall accumulate. If you are traveling to Northeast Alabama including Jackson and Dekalb Counties - it's possible you could see 1+" of snowfall because of the higher elevations.
Our RPM model is indicating the best chance of snowfall to occur between 3am and 7am Saturday. The most accumulation based on the model would be areas East of I-65. We are not anticipating travel issues since the window for snowfall will be very short-lived.
The threat for snowfall should end Saturday afternoon with clearing skies toward the evening. Highs on Saturday will reach the lower 40s with overnight lows Sunday morning falling into the mid 20s. Sunday looks primarily sunny with highs in the mid 40s.
We'll keep you updated.
Fox 6 Chief Meteorologist
I know it was a terrible day as far as travel and road conditions. We are still concerned about icy road conditions tonight. As you know however, the kids always love the snow. I had to share this video because it reminds me of my days as a student at Englewood Elementary School. This video was uploaded by 5th grade instructor, Mrs. Collins. She informs her class that it's snowing! Their reaction is priceless.
Fox 6 Meteorologist Wes Wyatt
(Viewer picture from Straight Mountain in Oneonta.)
We’ve been in contact with our team of weather watchers, gauging the locations with snow still on the ground. It seems like there is still a good bit of snow on the ground in locations north of Tuscaloosa to Birmingham. Also, east and northeast of Birmingham there is still snow cover. I think there could be a few spots with snow south of the mentioned locations, but I'm thinking these areas should mainly be in higher elevations. The temperature in Birmingham is actually up to 39-degrees. The temperature in Cullman is up to 37. Since we are above freezing at this hour snow will be slowly melting away. However, the sky is clear and the snow cover will help to lower temps below freezing after midnight. Therefore, black ice and re-freezing will be an issue. We urge you to use extra caution tomorrow morning as patchy ice will be an issue. For all Friday closing information be sure to visit http://myfoxclosings.com
January 2013 Snow...Some Observations
Today we dealt with a classic cold-core upper level low pressure system. It’s amazing how we can be in the mid 30s and low 40s and hours later be dealing with heavy snow, or in today’s case thundersnow. As the precipitation falls the colder air aloft is pulled closer to the earths surface. At one point in the afternoon the sun was shining with temps in the 40s in Tuscaloosa while Birmingham looked like a winter wonderland!
If the snow at peak intensity would have continued for a longer period of time, the surface temperature may have reached freezing and stayed there. The snowfall rate and intensity were key in the problems we faced today. I think the big surprise today was a convective band of snow that developed in the west and northwest part of the storm system. Just like severe storm events, we can always get a good handle on the areas favorable for severe weather but trying to nail down specific towns/communities can be a challenge, especially in the days leading up to an event. The convective bands with embedded thunder dumped so much snow in a short amount of time that road conditions deteriorated in a hurry! As we analyze all of the data associated with this event I think we will find some of the highest totals in a zone that stretches from northern Pickens County east and northeast into southern Fayette, northern Tuscaloosa, Waler, Winston, Cullman, Blount, and northern Jefferson counties. Our weather watcher in Cullman reported 4" of snow today! We want to thank all of our viewers for the reports and the pictures. Be sure to check our share.myfoxal.com site for pics and also check our main site for the video of the thundersnow. As an Alabama native I've only witnessed this twice in our state, once during the superstorm of 1993 and today.
Fox 6 Meteorologist Wes Wyatt
We're seeing bands of snow on radar this morning as the upper-level low deepens and tracks toward Alabama.
On average, snowfall amounts for us will be around 1-2" in the grassy areas. We could see some heavier amounts in some of the convective bands. It's possible to see isolated areas receiving upwards of 4" of snowfall. While I"m not anticipating any widespread travel problems, some of the backroads and elevated roads could become slick. Temperatures will fall to around 34 degrees as the low passes over the area.
Snowfall is likely to begin in West Alabama as early as 6am with this system exiting the state by 4pm leaving some accumulation in the higher terrain of East Alabama.
Fox 6 Chief Meteorologist
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