Friday, February 23, 2024

Plenty of Sunshine Through Early Next Week, Unsettled Pattern Returns Wednesday

Today (High 65): Sunny. Mild and breezy.

Tonight (Low 40): Clear skies. Breezy and cool.

Tomorrow (High 59): Sunny. Staying cool and breezy.

Sunday (High 64, Low 30): Sunny. Cold in the morning, cool in the afternoon.

Monday (High 69, Low 46): Mostly sunny. Milder temperatures. 

Tuesday (High 75, Low 56): Partly to mostly cloudy.

Wednesday (High 72, Low 60): Showers and thunderstorms likely - some storms could become strong.

Thursday (High 55, Low 40): Partly to mostly cloudy with a 40% chance of showers/thunderstorms.

Friday (High 60, Low 41): Partly to mostly cloudy with a 30% chance of showers/thunderstorms. 

As we approach the Noon hour, skies are sunny in Cullman. The temperature is 61 degrees. The dewpoint is 41 degrees, making the relative humidity 48%. Winds are from the North at 13 miles per hour. The pressure is 29.82 inches and steady, was rising slowly earlier in the morning. This morning's Low was 50 degrees. The rain got out of here in the wee hours of the morning, and we did have some thunder with it. As far as I saw, all the storms last night stayed under severe limits, but a few did require Special Weather Statements for some wind gusts of about 30 miles per hour and hail about the size of pennies. As one forecaster put it, it was pretty good sleeping weather, with just some light rain and thunder for most of us. The fog cleared out of Cullman by about daybreak. And the last of the clouds broke up a couple hours ago. 

It is sunny and 64 degrees in Jasper here at midday. The dewpoint is 43, making the relative humidity 46%. Winds are from the Northwest at 6 miles per hour. The pressure is 29.81 inches and falling, but it's more like it's been waffling slightly up and down. 

It is sunny and 61 degrees in Haleyville. The dewpoint is 42, making the relative humidity 50%. Winds are from the North at 10 mph. The pressure is 29.85 inches/1010 millibars and rising. 





The cold front now stretches from about Dothan up through Atlanta and into the Carolinas and Virginia. There was no big cold snap behind it, which was expected, this was one of the milder fronts we've had lately. 

The rest of today, we'll stay sunny and breezy, that Northerly breeze behind this front, get up to about 65 degrees. 

Tonight we'll cool down to about 40 degrees and have a hard time warming up to even 60 degrees tomorrow, probably more like 58-59 despite plenty of sunshine. An upper-level trough will be moving through the Appalachian Mountains, and we will stay breezy with winds out of the North and West, could still gust up to 15-25 mph range. 




For the most part high pressure will dominate our weather over the weekend though, that upper trough only bringing us some extra breeziness, no rain around here. 

Sunday we'll be sunny again, starting the day down around 30 degrees and then warming to the lower 60's or maybe mid-60's.

Things will start to warm up on Monday as our winds shift back around to the West and then from the South to start the new workweek. We'll stay mostly sunny but warm up to about 70 degrees. And with a quick moisture return, our Low that morning will rebound into the 40's, probably upper 40's. 

Clouds will be on the increase Tuesday, and it'll probably be another breezy day, the High climbing into at least the lower 70's but probably mid-70's for a lot of us, about 74-75 degrees. We might see an isolated shower Tuesday night. The morning Low for Tuesday should be back up in the 50's, mid-to-upper-50's. 




Wednesday is when our next cold front is expected to actually move through here, Wednesday or Wednesday night. And we find an interesting situation where the ECMWF has actually flip-flopped and started showing a faster movement of the front than the GFS. For several days, the GFS was the model that wanted to hurry the front through here, think it originally was showing it coming in Tuesday, while the ECMWF had the slower solution on Wednesday. And that's the way it usually goes. So it's interesting when the European wants to plow a front through here faster than the American model. Which did get an upgrade recently. 


Either model you believe, the center of low pressure is expected to move way North of here, so while rain and thunderstorms do look likely, I remain skeptical as to how much we'll have in the way of severe weather. And I've noticed that some of the forecasters that have been around longer in this region are being more conservative in how they are advertising this as a stormy day. Definitely something to keep an eye on though, as it is coming just a couple days before we get into March, the start of our primary severe weather season in the Tennessee River Valley, which runs through May. Most years, we get most of our storminess over with in March and April. But sometimes we still get a nasty event in the month of May. Before summer gets here and we usually get those random, pulse-type thunderstorms to break up the heat and humidity. Last year's pattern was unusual, and some of that may have been because it was the warmest year on record worldwide. But we've also had some typical summers in recent years. 

So to get back to just the forecast, Wednesday should feature a High of about 70 or so, probably lower 70's, and a Low near 60. Thunderstorms are likely, but the timing is still up in the air as to whether it's more during the day or toward the evening or night hours. If it comes in the evening or night, we might have more time to get warmer and the air destabilize a little more. But the European model is not showing that, and in a setup like this, I consider it to be more reliable. Thinking the High will be about 70-73 in North Alabama and that our chance for severe weather will be on the lower end. 



And the model guidance from the GFS and ECMWF, both global models, has gotten really messy for beyond Wednesday. The front is going to stall out and maybe even lift Northward again, enough to bring us more rain chances, kind of keep us unsettled. Thursday looks like a pretty good shot of cool air behind the front, High in the 50's and Low near 40. But with this look, I'm inclined to keep a 30-40% chance of rain in there. 

Then looks like we'll be closer to 60 degrees again Friday but still that unsettled pattern with scattered showers possible, not worried about any severe thunderstorms for Thursday or Friday. But the whole thing looks so messy that I'm actually thinking about taking the chance of rain on Wednesday back to 50% instead of just putting it in the likely category (60% or greater). 




The severe weather parameters via the GFS are not looking very impressive for Wednesday at this point. Even taking a forecast sounding from up roughly around Fort Payne, where the combination of instability and wind shear looked best at Noon Wednesday, this only suggests a marginal threat for severe thunderstorms and maybe an isolated tornado threat, with the unstable air being on the marginal side (between 500-1,000 j/kg of CAPE) and also the wind shear struggling to be what we'd look for if we were expecting a tornado threat (Helicity values under 200 m^/s^2). 


And then taking a look at the ECMWF, along with its faster timing, it has backed off on bringing the dewpoints up on Wednesday, those dewpoints of 60 degrees or so staying mostly to our South and East even Wednesday morning. 



Still worth keeping an eye on. For now we are under a basic 15% risk of severe thunderstorms Wednesday and Wednesday night. And that includes all of the Tennessee Valley, all counties of North Alabama and Southern Middle Tennessee. So there is no need to zoom in and have this high-resolution graphics. It is all of us that need to be mindful of the weather in case some storms try to get out of hand with this system. This risk area will continue to be trimmed as the event gets closer, and we may be taken out of it at some point, or some of us be replaced by their lowest marginal threat level that they issue in the Days 1-3 forecasts. We'll just have to wait and see. The model guidance at this point is still messy, and a lot of factors make it look like the potential for stronger storms here in the Tennessee Valley may actually stay on the lower end of things. With weak instability forecast and the surface Low passing so far away from our region, this looks more like a marginal severe thunderstorm risk to me. But my advice is to respect the risk considering the time of year and to be on the safe side. I wouldn't get worked up about it, but I'd keep an eye on it, especially if you live in a mobile home or somewhere else that you'd have to leave to take shelter from severe weather, like an apartment that is up on the top floor or a house sitting up on blocks. 

By the way, Governor Ivey has made this a tax-free weekend for severe weather/emergency preparedness supplies. So if you do not have a NOAA weather radio, they tend to cost about $30-35, good time to buy one if you can swing it, because you pay no tax this weekend. Or if you already have one and just want to have fresh batteries, or you need other emergency supplies, you might want to jump on this. 

Tomorrow is Severe Weather Awareness Day via the National Weather Service in Nashville. James Spann from ABC-33/40 in Birmingham will be one of their speakers, along with the broadcast meteorologists in the Nashville market and meteorologists from the National Weather Service there at Old Hickory. The Nashville office is also doing something interesting now, instead of teaching SKYWARN classes per se, scaling it back and doing Weather Safety Basics classes. The next one is online this Monday evening at 6:30 PM. And I think that's a neat idea. There are too many people wanting to get good videos of storms now and not enough people thinking of safety as a baseline. 


Rainfall totals for this forecast period will average between about a half-inch and one-inch. The extended period does look unsettled though, not sure how quickly the moisture clears out behind that front this next week. 

And this is not directly related to weather at all, but one of the best things I've seen in a while, Stephen Colbert paying tribute to Toby Keith. I only have one of his albums, and it is on a cassette tape. A family member who ran a garage and was as good and honest a mechanic as you could ever hope to meet donated all his old tapes to me one day since I had a player, and he wanted to get rid of them. And it had that first Toby Keith album in there. I've been listening to it lately, and I don't think there is a single dud on that tape. Most of the songs, I remember fondly, and the ones that were new to me were still good songs. I guess with his swagger in his later barroom anthems and politically-charged songs, I took it for granted that he'd be around forever. And then he got so sick. And I didn't really pay attention to how bad-off he was until he was gone. One album I always wanted to buy by him but never got around to was "Dream Walkin'." Of course you can hear it on YouTube, and I think it's from his official channel. But there's something about enjoying an album the old-fashioned way, without any annoying ads interrupting the mood of it. And even looking through a booklet that comes with the CD or tape. That title track is one of the best country songs I've ever heard, maybe one of the best songs period. And I loved this talk-show hosts's tribute to him almost as much as going back and listening to the old music. I didn't even realize he was the one who did that old song, "Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You," which was a favorite of mine, but I always thought it was by some one-hit wonder guy from the mid-1990's. But no, that song was his. And he told an interesting story, that his record company vetoed it and kept it off his first album. Then asked him about it later when he was playing it in his concerts (opening for Reba McEntire), since the radio stations kept talking about it from the shows. So they wanted it for the next album. There are a lot of troubling news stories I could comment on here after talking about the weather, but usually I pass on that. I thought I'd say something here because the man left us a lot of good music. And like Jim Morrison said, poetry is one of the only things that can survive even holocausts. These old songs remind me of some people I used to listen to them with, memories I wouldn't trade for a magic wand that would fix all the problems in the world that cause the troubling headlines. Like another musical poet, Billy Joel said, we didn't start the fire . . . every generation has its problems that at the time, seem like they are the worst ever and can't be overcome. And somehow the world keeps turning, people keep going with poetic words and music in their hearts and souls, whether it's digital or analog. After yesterday's cell phone outage, maybe more people will think about weather radios as a way to get alerts beyond WEA on cell networks, and there is also some value in putting the phone or laptop down sometimes and just digging out an old tape that sounds different than it would as a download. 

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