Signals are still being shown that we are in store for a significant severe weather event on Easter Sunday during the afternoon and evening hours. All of Central Alabama is in a defined risk for severe storms, with an ENHANCED RISK (level 3 of 5) up for locations along and south of a line from just north of Reform (Pickens Co.) to Hoover (Jefferson Co.) to just south of Ranburne (Cleburne Co.). Locations north of that line have been defined in a SLIGHT RISK (level 2 of 5) for severe storms.
At this point, tornadoes (one or two strong, long-track tornadoes possible), damaging winds up to 70 MPH, and hail up to quarter size will be possible for the Enhanced Risk locations. A few tornadoes, damaging winds up to 60 MPH, and quarter size hail will be possible for the Slight Risk locations.
At this point, timing looks to be from Sunday 12:00 pm to Monday 12:00 am, but as the higher-resolution and convection-allowing models start to come in, we will be able to get a better grasp on the timing and severity of this system.
Global modes are still showing a strong surface low moving northeastward across the southeastern US that will pass by just to the north of the state during the latter half of the day on Sunday. Ahead of the low, a warm front will be moving up northward from the Gulf Coast and eventually across all of Central Alabama. Along and south of the warm front, the atmosphere will quickly become unstable and will allow showers and thunderstorms to form during the afternoon and early evening hours.
We’ll have a good bit of instability moving up from the south, and combine that with strong wind shear and a good bit of helicity, any cells that develop may become strong to severe with all modes of severe weather possible. These may become supercellular in nature and could produce a few tornadoes. We’ll really have to keep our eyes on these as there is the potential of a strong, long-track tornado or two possible with this type of setup. Supercells will be more likely in the Enhanced Risk locations, but will be possible in the Slight Risk locations as well.
There will be a second round of strong to severe storms along a squall line that will form just ahead of the associated cold front draping down from the surface low. Once again, all modes of severe weather will be possible as it moves west to east through the area. Damaging winds will be the main threat with the line, but a few tornadoes will be possible along with some hail up to quarter size in diameter.
The GFS is still lagging behind the European with the placement and the strength of the system, but it is getting closer to the European solution as we get closer to the weekend. Once again, we’ll get a better picture once the higher-resolution convection-allowing models start coming in later today and early tomorrow morning.
NWS Birmingham stated that the risk levels may be increased if the warm front is able to move farther to the north before the cold front moves through. One of the first frames of one of the higher-resolution models shows the warm front reaching as far north as northern parts of Tennessee before the low and the cold front sweeps through. If that solution holds true, don’t be surprised to see the Enhanced Risk moved farther north and a Moderate Risk is defined for the southern half of Central Alabama.
NOW IS THE TIME to have your emergency supplies and your safe place ready for this event. You will need to keep informed by checking with your local news channel’s weather team, NWS Birmingham, and your favorite trusty weather app. You will need to have a reliable way to receive warnings, especially if you will be having any kind of family gathering or activity on Easter Sunday. If in a mobile/manufactured home, have a place planned out on where to ride out the storms. When the tornado watch is issued, that is when you need to act. You need to be in a well-built structure, storm pit, or storm shelter. Check with your local officials to see if community storm shelters will be opened.
I’ll continue to keep you posted throughout the rest of the week and into the weekend.