FORECAST ON TRACK: BARRY TO THE SOUTH; LOCAL IMPACTS LIMITED… RZW Exec members, good Thursday evening! We’ve updated our potential local impacts summary to reflect a low-end tornado potential that will likely continue into Saturday after the core of Tropical Storm Barry makes landfall to our west in Louisiana. In addition, you’ll see below that a Hurricane Warning is now in effect for parts of Louisiana. Please see the updated briefing below. As always, let me know if you have any decision support needs.
TROPICAL STORM BARRY PROMPTS HURRICANE WARNING FOR LOUISIANA… Tropical Storm Barry continues to organize over the northern Gulf of Mexico. What does that mean for south Alabama and northwest Florida? Heavy rain will be likely at times over the next 3-4 days. Some spots may pick up over 5 inches of rain locally before the event is over. Isolated tornadoes could become a problem at the immediate coast and over west Alabama this weekend. Local wind impacts are not expected. That’s a short summary of what YOU can expect if you’re in our local area. Impacts will be much more significant across parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. Let’s look at updated details this evening…
NEW: 4PM TROPICAL STORM BARRY FORECAST INFO… The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has just issued Advisory #6 for Tropical Storm Barry. Maximum sustained winds are at 40mph with higher gusts near the center of the circulation area. Barry is expected to strengthen over the next 24 to 36 hours before landfall along the central Louisiana coast. NHC continues to suggest landfall will happen as a category 1 hurricane or strong tropical storm. The “cone of uncertainty” or projected path has not changed much at all. The cone extends from Cameron, Louisiana eastward to the New Orleans area. That means that the center of Barry will very likely come on shore in that coastline range. Keep in mind, effects from the storm will extend hundreds of miles away from the center. The cone of uncertainty is a forecast for the CENTER of the storm and is not intended to communicate impacts/effects surrounding the center.
NEW: HURRICANE WARNINGS ISSUED FOR LOUISIANA… 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 Warning is now in effect for the coast of Louisiana from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle. A Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect for Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas including metropolitan New Orleans. The entirety of the Mississippi coast is under a Tropical Storm Watch.
NOT MUCH RAIN SO FAR TODAY; RAIN MORE LIKELY IN DAYS AHEAD… Scattered downpours of heavy rain have happened over the last several hours across the local area. We note that much of the region has been under partly cloudy to mostly sunny skies, however. Much of the convection associated with Tropical Storm Barry remains on the south side of the center of circulation. Interestingly, the northern side of the system (the side we care about because it is the side over Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama) remains dry and devoid of major, organized convection. This will probably change in the overnight hours and on Friday as convection begins to fill in around the center of the storm.
LOCAL IMPACTS UPDATE FOR SOUTH ALABAMA & NW FLORIDA… If you’ve been reading my long form posts over the last 2-3 days, this information has not changed that much. We expect heavy rain at times on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that could lead to isolated areas of flash flooding. That will be the number one concern for our local area. Isolated, brief, spin-up tornadoes may become possible at the immediate beaches of Alabama and northwest Florida on Friday and into the weekend. There could be a few tornadoes over west Alabama on Sunday as well as what is left of Barry moves farther inland. This will be something to monitor over the next day or so. Widespread wind issues are not expected locally. Dangerous rip currents continue to happen at our local beaches.
HEAVY RAIN & FLASH FLOODING POTENTIAL… Most spots across our region will pick up 3 to 4 inches of rain in total over the next 4 to 6 days. There will be some spots that get 4 to 7 inches of rain, especially near the Alabama and northwest Florida beaches. Rain chances will be greatest each day in the afternoon and evening hours. 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.
FLASH FLOOD WATCH… No changes or additions to report as of this update. 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 FRIDAY… Let me emphasize that for ALL areas in south Alabama and northwest Florida, the overall tornado risk remains very low. 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 Tropical Storm Barry over the next day or two. 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!
NEW: ISOLATED TORNADOES POSSIBLE AREAWIDE SATURDAY… The Storm Prediction Center has included vast majority of our local area in their Level 1 (out of 5) marginal severe weather risk valid for Saturday. This includes inland areas as well, particularly over west Alabama. The concern is after Barry makes landfall in Louisiana, the system will move north and potentially spin up a few, brief tornadoes across Mississippi and southwest Alabama. The Level 1 risk is in place from Eutaw and Marion southward to Selma and to the beaches. This means that Mobile, Pensacola, Fairhope, Orange Beach, Brewton, Atmore, Monroeville, Thomasville, Chatom, Butler, Demopolis, and surroudning areas are included in this risk zone. If any tornadoes happen, they probably won’t be big or last very long – but as I often caution, that doesn’t matter. If a tornado affects you, it’s a big deal!
WIND ISSUES NOT 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.
UPDATED: DEADLY RIP CURRENTS HAPPENING… This has already been a problem today with multiple reports of people defying red flag orders and getting in the Gulf. 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.
#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 Tropical Storm 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. Heavy rain will be possible at times.
PLEASE USE THE REDZONE WEATHER APP… If you’re following RedZone Weather on Facebook, thank you! If you’re following me on Facebook ALONE, however, you’re missing out. Be sure to download the RedZone Weather app (redzoneweather.com/app is the link for the free download). There is plenty more content in the app compared to what I post on Facebook each day. See below about how to set up app alerts.
SET UP APP ALERTS… We provide a variety of different options to fit your weather information needs. You should control how many alerts you want. We help with that by providing High-Level Alerts, Medium-Level Alerts, and Low-Level Alerts. Everyone gets the High-Level Alerts. We send one or two of those PER YEAR, so not very often at all. We reserve those alerts for high impact weather events. Medium-Level Alerts are recommended for most people. They’re the important alerts, but not necessarily super urgent. Low-Level Alerts are designed for people who want many, many alerts throughout the day. You’ll also want to turn ON alerts for the counties you care about. To do all of this, download the RedZone Weather app and visit the Alerts tab (lower right corner), then tap the large, yellow Alert Settings button to turn on the specific alerts you want.
I will be doing a special live video update later this evening. Hope you’ll join me for that!