A very dynamic system will be moving across the southeast on Thursday and Friday that will be bringing the potential for strong to severe storms to Central Alabama from Thursday afternoon through the early morning hours on Friday. We’ll have very strong wind shear and a decent amount of instability in place that severe storms capable of producing damaging winds and a few tornadoes, some of which could be locally strong tornadoes. We could all see some isolated hail up to quarter size in a few of these storms over the west and northwestern parts of the area. Most of the activity will be associated with a main squall line, but we are now seeing signs that a few supercells may form out ahead of the line, especially in the warm sector out ahead of the cold front. Listed below is the latest on the severe weather outlook, timing, and other hazards associated with the incoming system.
The latest Day 2 Severe Weather Outlook has just been released by the Storm Prediction Center, and they have upgraded the western parts of Central Alabama to a level 3/5 Enhanced Risk for severe weather. Here are the latest parameters for the risk areas:
• Enhanced Risk (level 3/5): Locations along and west of a line from just east of Demopolis (Marengo Co.) to Vance (Tuscaloosa Co.) to Blountsville (Blount Co.). Includes the larger cities of Hamilton, Tuscaloosa, and Demopolis.
• Slight Risk (level 2/5): Locations east of the enhanced risk and stretches to a line from roughly Autaugaville (Autauga Co.) to Sylacauga (Talladega Co.) to Piedmont (Calhoun Co.). Includes the larger cities of Gadsden, Anniston, Birmingham, Talladega, Hoover, Clanton, and Selma.
• Marginal Risk (level 1/5): Locations east of the slight risk to the Alabama/Georgia state line. Includes the larger cities of Alexander City, Auburn, Montgomery, Eufaula, and Troy.
The main window for the threat of severe storms across Central Alabama will be from roughly Thursday afternoon through the predawn hours on Friday morning. Here is the breakdown of timing by cities:
• 2 pm – 8 pm: Hamilton, Carrollton, Demopolis, Tuscaloosa, Jasper, Cullman, and points in between.
• 5 pm – 12 am: Centreville, Birmingham, Selma, Oneonta, Clanton, Gadsden, Talladega, Centre, Anniston, Montgomery, and points in between.
• 8 pm – 4 am: Alexander City, Wedowee, Troy, Auburn, Eufaula, and points in between.
Along with the threat of severe storms, winds will be gusty at times even outside of thunderstorms. Therefore, a Wind Advisory has been issued for all counties in Central Alabama (along with all of the North Alabama counties) starting at 6 am Thursday morning until midnight Thursday night. Sustained winds of 10-25 mph can be expected throughout the advisory, with the potential for gusts up to 30-45 mph. Stronger localized wind gusts will be possible. Now is the time to go outside and secure any loose outdoor furniture and other fixtures that may be blown down by strong winds.
Be sure to have multiple ways to get warnings throughout the event. Be sure you have your Wireless Emergency Alerts turned on and have your favorite weather apps downloaded to your smartphone. Have those batteries charged in those smartphones and other wireless devices, along with fresh batteries in your weather radio. Of course, all of your local TV news stations will have wall-to-wall coverage when tornado warnings have been issued for anyone in your TV market. Please be sure to notify your neighbors of the upcoming severe weather threat.
Know where to go if your location goes under a warning, especially a tornado warning. We talk about have a safe place to go if this occurs, but if you do not have one yet, here is the best advice… Go to the lowest floor in your building or house and go to the center of that floor. You want to put as many walls between you and the outside. If you have an underground basement, anywhere in the basement will be safe. Stay away from windows or exterior rooms as they will not protect you. Also, do not stay on the top floor. If you are in a mobile home… get out. Have a way to get to a local storm shelter or to a neighbor or family member that has a more sturdy structure. If none of those are an option, go to the local shopping center or grocery store, as you can use their restrooms as a safer place.
This is not going to be a severe weather outbreak like we saw on April 27, 2011, but all it takes is one tornado to come down your street to make it your April 27th. Please stay weather aware… be prepared and take action immediately if you go under a warning.