ENHANCED SEVERE WEATHER RISK LATER TODAY…
GREATEST TORNADO RISK ACROSS WEST ALABAMA… Severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes and damaging straight line winds will become possible later today (Saturday, April 14, 2018) across Alabama, northwest Florida, Mississippi, and east Louisiana. The Storm Prediction Center maintains their Level 3 “enhanced risk” zone for much of southwest Alabama, northwest Florida, and west Alabama. The main threat later today will be a line of intense thunderstorms capable of producing wind gusts up to 70-80mph. Isolated tornadoes in the line of storms will also be possible. There is some concern that we could have a few supercell thunderstorms out ahead of the main line of storms that could produce tornadoes and large hail, although we’ll have to wait and see if this specific threat sets up this afternoon.
WHAT’S NEW SINCE LAST NIGHT… The main update we have is TIMING details. The risk areas remain very similar. The potential impacts remain pretty much the same. This line of storms will clearly approach west Alabama earlier than previously suggested. At the time this video is being produced as of 8AM, we note numerous severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings are in effect from Jackson, MS southward into south Mississippi and Louisiana. This is the main, large line of thunderstorms that will be moving across our area later today.
TIMING DETAILS… The latest guidance suggests that this line of storms will arrive EARLIER this afternoon into west Alabama. We’ve adjusted the 12 hour window for when severe weather is most likely from 2PM today to 2AM on Saturday, with the core risk being from 5PM to 11PM for much of southwest Alabama.
DAMAGING WINDS… There have already been several reports of trees being blown down in portions of Louisiana and Mississippi behind the main line of storms. The risk from damaging winds will, overall, affect much larger area compared to the areas affected by tornado warnings. Please take Severe Thunderstorm Warnings seriously today! 70-80mph wind gusts will be possible in the stronger storms.
FLASH FLOOD WATCH… The Flash Flood Watch has been extended eastward, and now includes Monroe, Conecuh, Butler, Escambia (AL), Santa Rosa, Escambia (FL), and Baldwin counties in our local area. This is in addition to Clarke, Mobile, and Washington counties that were already involved in the Flash Flood Watch. 2-4” of rain is possible across our area. Greater rain amounts are likely over west Alabama.
GET THE WARNINGS… Please have at least one way to receive weather warnings. Multiple ways to get the warnings are preferable! Most folks take tornado warnings seriously, but most do NOT take severe thunderstorm warnings seriously. Take my word for it… We need to take severe thunderstorm warnings seriously on Saturday! Damaging wind gusts could be 70-80mph in the stronger storms, easily capable of knocking down trees. NOAA Weather Radio is a great way to get warnings, as are automatic weather alerting apps on smartphones that are set up properly. Saf-T-Net is a free, good one. Weather Radio by WDT is a paid option, but works great. Our free RedZone Weather app provides (non-automated) handcrafted alerts sent by me. More about that below…
REDZONE WEATHER APP… Here’s the important part: Be sure to go to the Alerts tab (bottom right tab in the app) then tap the large, yellow “Alert Settings” button to go in and configure the alerts you want to receive from us. A lengthy description is provided in the Alert tab as to what each option is. We had so many folks trying to access the app when I sent our first “High Level Alert” that our app servers briefly crash. If you get a “database error” or anything like that, tap the “Latest” button in the app after a minute or two. We increased traffic capacity due to this!
EVENT CANCELLATIONS, DRIVING, ETC… I’ve had hundreds of questions today about events, “should I cancel?”, “I’m driving from x to y. Should I not?,” etc. I can’t be super specific on these matters because people have different perspectives on if they can drive in heavy rain or not, etc. The big takeaway here is that we all need a way to get the warnings AND I would definitely have a site-built structure (and head protection) to get into quickly in case a warning is issued for my area. That’s the advice I’m giving.
HIGH RISK OF RIP CURRENTS… Rip currents are our area’s number one weather-related killer. Saturday will be a HIGH RISK rip current day for all Alabama and northwest Florida beaches. If you go out on a local beach, please stay out of the water as rip currents will be plentiful, unfortunately. Red flags will be flying at many local beaches.
COVERAGE… I’ll have plenty of updates throughout the day in the RedZone Weather app and over on Twitter @rzweather. My next update here on Facebook will be early afternoon (or sooner if warranted). If we have tornado warnings, I’ll stream live coverage on all our platforms. Check out redzoneweather.com/coverage for details about this.
Have a great Saturday!