TROPICAL STORM BARRY FLINGING HEAVY RAIN INTO OUR AREA… Numerous showers and thunderstorms are developing across south Alabama and northwest Florida on this Thursday afternoon. These storms are being kicked up partially due to the influence of Tropical Storm Barry, located to our south in the north-central Gulf of Mexico. Heavy rain is likely at times through this evening. The overall risk of any tornadoes is very low, but it’s not quite zero at the immediate beaches. I will be closely monitoring radar trends over the next few hours as we could have a brief, spin-up tornado or two at our local coastline. As always, if a tornado warning is required for any part of our local area, we will provide uninterrupted live video coverage. A few midday notes…
IT’S OFFICIAL: BARRY IS ON THE BOARD… After days of dealing with the arguably terrible, highly confusing nomenclature (Invest, tropical disturbance, tropical depression, “potential tropical cyclone”), all of that has finally gone out the window. We’re now staring on the satellite display at purely Tropical Storm Barry. It became official at 10AM when the National Hurricane Center issued the advisory, “upgrading” the system to tropical storm status. Maximum winds near the center of circulation are at 40mph with higher gusts. USAF/Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to investigate the circulation later today.
SLOW-MOVING STORM OVER NEXT 48 HOURS… I am growing very concerned about the southern part of Louisiana, where a major flood situation will likely set up. 15 to 20 inches of rain could happen as the center of Barry moves onshore this weekend. Heavy rain and flash flooding will almost certainly be the biggest impact of this system across the Deep South over the next several days.
NEW WATCHES AND WARNINGS… We note that no hurricane or tropical storm watches or warnings are in effect for any part of Alabama or Florida at this time. A Hurricane Watch continues for much of the Louisiana coastline. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from the Pearl River (MS/LA state line) south and westward to Morgan City. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from the Alabama/Mississippi state border near Pascagoula westward to to the Pearl River (MS/LA state line). Storm surge warnings are also in effect for parts of Louisiana.
The following paragraphs are review information from this morning’s detailed discussion. All of this information remains right on target…
LOCAL IMPACTS FOR SOUTH ALABAMA & NW FLORIDA… We now have high confidence about all impacts discussed below. This probably will not change much over the next few days. It cannot be stressed enough that heavy rain and flash flooding will be a significant concern, especially closer to the immediate coastline. NEVER attempt to drive on a water-covered roadway. We lose too many people across America each year to this totally preventable cause of death! “Turn around, don’t drown” is the phrase. Isolated tornadoes at the the immediate beach zones will also be a concern.
FLASH FLOODING & HEAVY RAIN… We’ve adjusted projected rainfall amounts even higher based on the latest data from the Weather Prediction Center. Most spots across our region will pick up 3 to 4 inches of rain in total over the next 5 to 7 days. There will be some spots that get 5 to 8 inches of rain, especially near the Alabama and northwest Florida beaches. Rain chances will be greatest each day in the afternoon and evening hours.
FLASH FLOOD WATCH… The entirety of Mobile, Washington, Baldwin, Escambia (FL), and Santa Rosa counties are under a Flash Flood Watch. 5 to 7 inches of rain will be possible in these areas. This includes Chatom, Millry, Citronelle, Saraland, Stockton, Mobile, Prichard, Theodore, Bay Minette, Daphne, Fairhope, Foley, Spanish Fort, Bayou La Batre, Dauphin Island, Grand Bay, Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Century, Molino, Walnut Hill, Beulah, Ensley, Pensacola, Pensacola Beach, Perdido Beach, Jay, Milton, Bagdad, Gulf Breeze, and Navarre.
ISOLATED TORNADOES POSSIBLE AT THE COAST… Let me emphasize that for ALL areas in south Alabama and northwest Florida, the overall tornado risk remains VERY low. For most spots across inland counties, the tornado risk remains at or near zero. We’re concerned about areas near the Alabama and northwest Florida beaches due to a low-end tornado risk. Isolated supercell thunderstorms may rotate around the center of PTC2/Barry over the next 48 hours. These cells could produce tornadoes over water (aka tornadic waterspouts) that approach the shoreline. It’s in these immediate beach zones that could see a brief, spin-up tornado. This includes areas like Dauphin Island, Bayou La Batre, Coden, Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, Pensacola Beach, Fort Pickens, Oriole Beach, Navarre, Mary Esther, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, and Miramar Beach. Have a way to get tornado warnings, especially if you’re near the coast!
NO MAJOR WIND ISSUES EXPECTED LOCALLY… We’ll have breezy (10-25mph) wind gusts at the immediate coast, but I’m not expecting any wind issues for inland areas due to this passing tropical storm. There could be higher wind gusts in Mississippi and certainly in Louisiana, but wind issues in south Alabama and northwest Florida should be little to none.
RIP CURRENTS KILL… Most people don’t realize that the number ONE natural hazard killer in our region is dangerous rip currents! We’ve lost more people to rip currents since 1996 compared to all other natural hazard deaths combined. Most of the victims are people who are from out of our local area that probably didn’t realize the danger. It should be common sense, but just in case it’s not: Don’t get in the water when there is a tropical storm or hurricane around. It’s just not a good idea.
COASTAL FLOODING POSSIBLE… Low-lying areas at the immediate beach zones that are accustomed to flooding during passing tropical systems may have some coastal flooding issues as we go into the weekend. Widespread coastal flooding issues are not expected, however.
BLUE ANGELS UPDATE… It is Blue Angels weekend at Pensacola Beach. The Blues are doing their practice shows Thursday and Friday ahead of the big show at 2PM on Saturday. Unfortunately, rain chances will remain HIGH on Saturday. It’s impossible to pinpoint exactly where showers and thunderstorms will be happening at 2PM Saturday, but I can tell you with high confidence that there will be rain around. We’ll call it an 80 to 90 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday afternoon and evening. Depending on the exact future track of PTC2/Barry, we may have to adjust rain chances higher or lower in the next day or two.
#1 QUESTION I GET: DO I CANCEL MY PLANS?… Unfortunately, this is another question I simply cannot answer. Baseball tournaments, ballet performances, football/soccer games are all scheduled for this weekend. We all have different thresholds and tolerances for what we’re willing to put up with in terms of heavy rain or bad weather. I’m the type of person that will drive through just about anything. Heavy rain just does not bother me. I have people in my family, however, that will not drive through heavy rain. The fact is we have a high chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as the core of PTC2/Barry passes to our south and west. If I had an event in Louisiana, I would most likely cancel (depending on the event type). If I had an event locally or to the east, I probably wouldn’t cancel (depending on the event type, again). You might, I’m not sure. It’s just all about what you’re willing to deal with. Lots of rain upcoming!
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I will have another detailed update later this evening. Until then, be sure to join me in the RedZone Weather app for the very latest!