Saturday, January 13, 2024

Winter Storm Conditions Possible Monday


Sunday (High 39, Low 23): Cold and breezy with increasing clouds. Wintry showers are possible late at night and may include a mix of sleet, freezing rain, and snow. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (High 30, Low 24): Snow showers likely throughout the day and night, with potential for a mix of sleet and/or freezing rain, especially early in the day. Snow accumulations are expected to average 1-2 inches for North Alabama (with a glaze of ice accumulation also possible), and 3-4 inches for Southern Middle Tennessee.

Tuesday (High 24, Low 15): Lingering isolated snow showers possible in the morning. Overcast with a bitterly cold breeze. 

(Extended Outlook)

Wednesday (High 33, Low 5): Sunny.

Thursday (High 44, Low 16): Partly to mostly sunny with a 20% chance of showers.

Friday (High 37, Low 25): Partly to mostly sunny with a 20% chance of showers. 

Saturday (High 30, Low 13): Sunny. 


Domingo (Máxima 39, Mínima 23): Frío y ventoso con nubes crecientes. Es posible que haya lluvias invernales a altas horas de la noche y pueden incluir una mezcla de aguanieve, lluvia helada y nieve.

Día de Martin Luther King Jr. (Máxima 30, Mínima 24): Es probable que haya chubascos de nieve durante el día y la noche, con potencial para una mezcla de aguanieve y/o lluvia helada, especialmente temprano en el día. Se espera que las acumulaciones de nieve promedien entre 1 y 2 pulgadas en el norte de Alabama (y también es posible un glaseado de acumulación de hielo) y entre 3 y 4 pulgadas en el centro sur de Tennessee.

Martes (Máxima 24, Mínima 15): Es posible que persistan chubascos de nieve aislados por la mañana. Nublado y con una brisa muy fría.

(Perspectiva Extendida)

Miércoles (Máxima 33, Mínima 5): Soleado.

Jueves (Máxima 44, Mínima 16): Parcialmente a mayormente soleado con un 20 % de probabilidad de lluvias.

Viernes (Máxima 37, Mínima 25): Parcialmente a mayormente soleado con un 20 % de probabilidad de lluvias.

Sábado (Máxima 30, Mínima 13): Soleado.


Much of North Alabama and all of our Tennessee counties have been placed under a Winter Storm Watch. Then many counties in Western Tennessee, all the way over to Hardin County, were upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning.  

If you have not already done so, you might want to double-check your preparedness for this period of prolonged temperatures below freezing. Some of us will be below freezing for about 3-5 days straight, something we are not used to around here. Here is the Spanish version


It was a sunny and somewhat breezy day in the Tennessee Valley, winds generally from the South/Southwest. The High in Cullman was 43, and the Low was 27. (My forecast was 46/25, so at least we got it within three degrees this time. There used to be a guy who had a "three degree guarantee".) Jasper saw a few more clouds at times today, the High there . . . oh wait a minute, all these observations are from the 11th. So we'll skip Jasper's observations for today. Haleyville had a High of 43 and Low of 27. 

Our neighbors up in Fort Payne saw a High of 42 and Low of 28 today. Gadsden got up to 45 after a morning Low of 28. Decatur had a High of 45 after a morning Low of 30. Huntsville also had a High of 45, Low of 30 today, a few more clouds there in the Rocket City today, but mostly sunny skies overall. Muscle Shoals got up to 46 today, Low of 29, and they actually had some light snow around midnight last night/into early this morning, think it only amounted to flurries. Tupelo appears to have had a High of 47 and Low of 30 today, but once again, like the other day, big chunks of their observations are missing, so it's hard to tell. Memphis saw a few more clouds than the rest of these places and had a High of 45 today, Low of 27. And then Nashville, the Music City, actually saw a fair amount of clouds hanging around off and on today, High of 43 and Low of 29 in that lovely home of so many wonderful honky-tonks. 

Our next powerful storm system is set to bring us an Arctic blast and the potential for some snow, and maybe even ice, accumulation. So let's look at it in detail day by day. 

Tomorrow is our get-ready day, where we'll just see clouds increasing through the day, starting around 23 degrees, lower 20's, and then only warming to about 40 degrees and probably not quite making it there, probably about 38-39. 

Now it's worth mentioning that onset time is still a little in question. And we could see some snow showers approaching by about midnight going into Monday morning. It is more likely that it'll start during the wee hours or toward daybreak Monday, but we can't rule out a few isolated wintry showers as early as say, 10 PM to Midnight tomorrow night. That is especially true for Northwest Alabama. 

The NAM is showing much more of a sleet mix as you get down to about the Alabama state line and points South. It was showing a warm nose aloft that was enough for some freezing rain mix, believe it was yesterday, and now it is looking more like the ice will stay further to the South. But still in North Alabama, have to take the NAM into account, that we could see a little sleet mixing with the snow, at least early on. I've seen that happen a lot around here at the onset of even major snow events. 

I'm going to review everything and be very careful about this sleet/freezing rain potential at the onset, because if we get any freezing rain, that could make a big difference for some people in impacts to travel and also things like the potential for power outages. 

Yeah, this warm nose idea advertised by the NAM is a problem. The other short-term models (CAMS) are not close enough to the event yet to really put stock in. Agreement between the major global models has been good at keeping this all snow. But the NAM throws a monkey wrench in things. This basic idea could be correct, of there being a warm nose in the upper atmosphere that could produce some sleet or even freezing rain for a while, before it all changes over to snow. And the thing is, even a light accumulation of ice before the snow starts falling and accumulating could cause some issues wherever it occurs. So I feel the need to take this possibility seriously. 

Will mention the onset being a wintry mix of sleet, freezing rain, and snow before a changeover to all snow. Now up on the Tennessee side, not so concerned about this. The thermal profile will likely be so cold at every level that most places will just see snow. 

By midday the GFS supports the idea of all snow across the region. And the ECMWF has a similar look. Trends from the NAM as the event gets closer will need to be monitored, and we'll see what the CAM's do with it too. 

The Canadian GEM advertises wintry precip chances from Sunday night through Tuesday morning, but it doesn't offer a lot of clues as to precip type. 

The SREF is a model I've depended on a lot for severe convective weather over the years, as it often does better than the NAM or the GFS for mesoscale parameters. But this is the first time I remember relying on it heavily for winter weather. And it shows a wintry mix all through Monday into Tuesday morning, a mixed mode of sleet, snow, freezing rain, and also some just plain old rain with no point it all changes to snow. 

I don't quite believe this scenario, but taken together with the basic idea of a warm nose with the NAM, I think it is worth keeping some sleet and freezing rain in the forecast as well as the more likely threat of snow. We'll probably just see a glaze of the ice where it occurs, while the snow accumulation will be more than we usually get around here. Even though people up North would think nothing of it. 

The GFS has calmed down on snow depth forecasts, how much snow will be on the ground by Wednesday. It is now advertising about a 1-4 inch range for North Alabama up into Southern Middle Tennessee. 

High pressure will be moving back into the region Wednesday, and we will see sunshine again, but still barely warm above freezing, and some of us may not even make it that far. The morning Low will probably be down in the single digits, as low was 5 degrees or colder for some places. 

But let's recap how we get to that point. 

The wintry precipitation should start in the dark hours late tomorrow night into Monday morning, first as a mix of sleet and perhaps freezing rain, at least on the Alabama side. At some point Monday morning into midday, I think it will all change over to snow for North Alabama. If there is any sleet/ice on the Tennessee side, I think it will be minimal. And a lot of the Tennessee counties will probably just see snow from this with no icing worries at all. That is my best estimate. Admitting that this forecast is challenging. 

Snow showers should continue through the day on Monday, and some may linger overnight into Tuesday morning. I think they will gradually taper off by about midday Tuesday. 

Expecting a High near only 30 degrees Monday, with a Low in about the 23-25 range, so pretty similar to tonight actually. 

Then for Tuesday, maybe a few lingering snow showers in the morning, but overall, I think we'll remain overcast with a little bit of a breeze and be dealing with the snowpack, whatever is already on the ground, and the seriously cold air. High should be in the mid-20's and Low near about 15. 

Then on Wednesday, like I said, might warm above freezing for the High, sunny skies again, the Low down in the single digits. 

Then we'll have to watch another system Thursday night into Friday. It actually may bring some accumulation of snow again to at least some parts of Tennessee. At the moment, it doesn't look like much of a threat for that to North Alabama. Probably just flurries on the Alabama side, but we'll keep an eye on it. One snow-producing system is enough to contend with at a time. The second system is moving fast and looks more like it'll clip us. It is not as serious a potential as this first one. 

Thursday looks like a mix of sun and a few clouds, High getting back up into the 40's. So some melting of whatever snow has fallen can finally begin. The Low should be down in the Teens or may make it to 20 for some spots. 

Friday it looks like a High back in the 30's, Low in the 20's. Will split the precipitation chances between the two days, but it looks like most of it will probably fall at night, which means even in Alabama, the potential for additional wintry precipitation has to be considered. It might not be much even if it happens, but definitely have to keep an eye on this just in case of any additional issues from it. 

Then behind that front, looks like again we will struggle to get to even 30 degrees and will start the morning beteen 10-20 degrees, probably closer to 10 degrees. Despite sunny skies. 

This will be some of the worst cold we have had in a long time. And I hope everyone has a good warm-enough place to be, including people's pets. This is pipe-bursting and plant-killing weather too. Everybody please be safe, including with any alternate methods you use to heat your house if you need to. Not to be morbid, but we don't want anyone getting carbon monoxide poisoning any more than we'd want anybody getting hypothermia. This will be a stretch of days where a little common sense, and reminding oneself to do the next simple right things, will go a long way. 

Having said all that, this is not pure danger. Sometimes you'll read terms on social media like "snowpocalypse" or "snowmageddon." And that's worth a laugh. Especially if someone is experiencing a significant winter storm or a blizzard. It can feel that way sometimes. But this is not that. It does have the potential to reach winter storm criteria for some of us though. Others of us will probably only experience minor winter weather impacts. 

The reason I do emphasize the need for caution with this event is that we'll be below freezing from tomorrow night through at least Thursday morning. And that is more than we are used to. Cullman Electric Co-Op has said that they have talked to the TVA and do not anticipate any big problems from this. I hope they are right, and we all appreciate the hard work these people do, especially at times like this. But we have to consider that some people in our region may lose power at some points during this prolonged cold, which is likely to be punctuated by some wintry precipitation and also some periods of winds making it feel like it is below zero. And posing the same health hazards (to anyone without sufficient warmth) as if it really were dropping to zero degrees or below. 

When trying to estimate what to expect as far as serious problems from this, I decided to take a look back to the historic blizzard of 1993, because that was an event at least four or five times as bad as this has the potential to be. We had 14 deaths in North Alabama and Southern Middle Tennessee, and all but one of those happened outside, many where people abandoned their vehicles. And that was an event where jokes about a "snowpocalypse" would not have been out of line. This is not that event, or anywhere close to it. So sometimes it helps to look back to a worst-case scenario event to put these lesser threats in perspective. And there was only one person in our region who died at home. This much more minor event has been well-forecast, and everyone, including the power companies, are going out of their way to make sure everyone is taken care of. And while it is unusual for us, as winter storms go, it looks on the lower end of the spectrum of what can happen. We've been through a lot worse, even in the past 5-10 years, have had events that could put this setup to shame. 

Monday is not only Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but this year, it falls on his actual birthday. I love how even in these times of extreme political polarization, the arguments about Reverend King are not about his impact, but rather who is doing the best job of carrying on his ideals. When someone gets shot dead for his convictions and then provokes such arguments a half-century later, it is a sure sign he did something right. His autobiography is worth reading, if you never have, more interesting than whatever history class in school had to offer. And as much as people complain about modern technology rotting all our minds, one of its definite boons is that some of his best words have been preserved in audio and/or video form, so that the man can be allowed to speak for himself

The general idea is that on the Alabama side, snow accumulations up to 1-2 inches will be the average. That may be mixed with a glaze of ice and sleet. On the Tennessee side, amounts are expected to average up to 3-4 inches. 

As long as you make sure to stay safe from the cold, this could be a lot of fun since schools will already be out on Monday. When I was a kid, I didn't worry about anything but how much fun it was to see snow for the first time in a long time. The only thing that sort of bummed us out about snow, my brothers and me, was one time when before we had a chance to go out and play in the snow or make a snowman, our cat "Gooder" (I didn't name her) went out and took a squat right on top of all the beautiful snow. We were sort of mad at her for that. But hey, we do need to be careful, especially check on older folks and pets. It is also important to take a day off and just enjoy watching the snow fall, however much does or doesn't accumulate, wherever you are. We don't get a decent snow all that often, so I hope you and your family enjoy it. 

P.S. Adding this note at 6:58 PM - a list of warming centers around Cullman County. Many thanks to Waid Harbison and also the folks at the Link for helping out in this way. Melissa Betts is the lady in charge at the Link. Anyway, if you need information on warming centers in another county and can't find it, feel free to leave me a comment and I'll see if I can help you out. I rarely get comments or feedback and often don't know who is reading or from where. 

7:08 PM - Another edit, hopefully the last one, because I totally forgot to do a Spanish forecast this evening, which seems necessary for such a high-impact forecast right at the turn of a week. As Sam Shamburger tweeted today, looked at enough model data to make head want to explode. Hopefully it translates to a useful forecast. 

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