I try my best to be a just give you the facts kind of meteorologist. I'd love to work in guarantees, but when it comes to Winter weather in Alabama that is about like winning the lottery. We still have some models indicating accumulation of snowfall while others are indicating little to nothing. So - what do you do? Since many of us remember January 2014 - you lean toward the side of caution.
As a meteorologist, my "gut instinct" combined with years of experience tells me we will probably NOT see a major Winter weather event on Friday, but I can't disregard some of the model data. Both the GFS and Euro are indicating accumulating snowfall. Our partners at the National Weather Service have actually expanded the Winter Storm Watch based on the consistency of the GFS and now the Euro showing some possibilities of a colder and wetter trend.
The threat for Winter Weather looks unlikely during the early morning commute on Friday, but we still should monitor closely for any changes in the onset of precipitation. It appears any significant precipitation will arrive later in the morning or early afternoon. It is worth noting -the higher resolution NAM is indicating some rain by noon, but showing no indication of snowfall. Meanwhile, the GFS is coming in colder with snow and mixed precipitation by noon.
The GFS is indicating snowfall in our northern counties around noon with sleet/rain for areas south of I-20.
What happens later in the day depends on whether you're going the GFS, Euro, or NAM route. The GFS model is indicating almost all snow by 6pm with sleet and possibly some freezing rain south of I-20 at this time.
Back to the NAM - a much different picture is being "painted" with most of the rain exiting by 6pm and no indication of snow.
How do you plan for such uncertainty? Keep in mind school systems usually follow the lead of the National Weather Service. With a Winter Storm Watch for Friday, this means closings and early releases on Friday are likely. What about your personal travel plans? Before I left the house Friday morning, I would make sure I checked the weather for any changes. You may want to alter your plans based on how precipitation and temperatures are trending.
This is not the same type of setup meteorologically as in 2014. The surface temperatures are not as cold and the airmass is not as cold. But, we all know even a minor snow event can be a major event in Alabama.
What do I think will happen? We will likely see some snowfall in parts of the area and a some travel issues. As typical, this is one of those setups where some folks will not see one flake while others could see some accumulation. I would lean more toward light snowfall accumulations for most areas. The farther south of I-20 the higher chance for rain or mixed precipitation. The sweet spot for snowfall accumulation could be the I-20 corridor or just to the north and possibly extending into the higher elevations of our eastern counties. Make sure you check with WBRC for updated weather information throughout today and tomorrow. It is always a good idea to have the WBRC First Alert Weather app close for updated weather information.
We'll keep you posted as new data arrives.
WBRC First Alert Chief Meteorologist