VERY CONCERNING DAMAGING STRAIGHT LINE WIND RISK ON SATURDAY… We have been focusing heavily on the tornado risk setting up for Saturday across Alabama and northwest Florida, but let me stress that I am quite concerned about the risk of damaging straight line winds setting up for Saturday across Alabama and northwest Florida. The graphic attached highlights the wind values at the 850 millibar height, or at approximately 5,000 feet above ground level in the atmosphere. These winds will be howling at 60-100 mph across the Deep South as a low-level jet streak moves from southwest to northeast across the region. The squall line that will move across the state and region will be able to easily tap into this and bring some of these winds down to the surface of the earth, thus some wind damage IS expected on Saturday in terms of trees being blown down. This could create scattered power outage problems. I have seen reports that Alabama Power and electric cooperatives are staging for this possibility, which I endorse and I think is a good, proactive call on their part. Definitely warranted in this case!
SPC MAINTAINS LEVEL 3 RISK ZONE… The Storm Prediction Center decided that the forecast is right on track and maintains their Level 3 (out of 5) enhanced severe weather risk zone for nearly all of Alabama, northwest Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The only change to report as of Noon is the Level 3 risk has been expanded to include areas farther north in north Alabama and southern Tennessee in the Tennessee Valley region. This expansion is driven largely by the increasing risk of damaging straight line winds in the strong squall line set to move through on Saturday.
TORNADO WATCH TO THE WEST… The first Tornado Watch of the year has been issued for parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas as the severe weather system takes shape to our west. Another Tornado Watch will be issued in the next 2 hours for parts of northeast Texas near Dallas.
The following information from the detailed video post this morning has been lightly edited and remains on point. If you missed that post, please review the information below for specifics.
EXPANDED LEVEL 4 (OUT OF 5) RISK TO OUR WEST TODAY… Much of Arkansas, western Louisiana, eastern Texas, and southeastern Oklahoma are involved in the Level 4 (out of 5) risk zone where widespread damaging winds are expected in the severe storms later today. Not all risk levels are created equally, and this Level 4 risk is driven PRIMARILY by the high wind threat in that area. There still is a significant risk of tornadoes, perhaps a strong one or two, but clearly the big threat in those areas today will be severe thunderstorms capable of producing widespread wind damage. Areas near Shreveport (LA), Tyler (TX), Longview (TX), Mesquite (TX), and Garland (TX) are involved in the higher Level 4 risk, with areas like Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Tulsa involved in the Level 3 risk zone today. This same system will move into our area on Saturday.
LEVEL 3 RISK AREA ON SATURDAY… This remains unchanged as of Noon on Friday. Much of Alabama, northwest Florida, Mississippi, and the northeast corner of Louisiana near New Orleans is involved in the Level 3 (out of 5) enhanced severe weather risk zone. ALL of south Alabama and northwest Florida is involved in this enhanced risk area. Here are a few of the locales involved in the Level 3 risk area. Note that even if your specific town isn’t included in this list, if you see surrounding towns or cities involved, you’re still included in the risk zone. Level 3 risk as of Wednesday night: Mobile, Pensacola, Birmingham, Montgomery, Andalusia, Opp, Florala, Georgiana, Greenville, McKenzie, Hayneville, Camden, Brewton, Atmore, Poarch, Huxford, Flomaton, Evergreen, Repton, Castleberry, Monroeville, Beatrice, Uriah, Thomasville, Grove Hill, Jackson, Coffeeville, Silas, Butler, Pennington, Livingston, McIntosh, Leroy, Citronelle, Bay Minette, Mount Vernon, Saraland, Satsuma, Prichard, Theodore, Bayou La Batre, Fort Morgan, Dauphin Island, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, Foley, Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort, Loxley, Stockton, Century, Bratt, Walnut Hill, Molino, Gulf Breeze, Warrington, Milton, Pace, Berrydale, Jay, Navarre, Crestview, Destin, Baker, Fort Walton Beach, Tuscaloosa, Marion, Selma, and Demopolis.
RAIN & STORMS POSSIBLE LATER TODAY… Areas of sprinkles are possible this morning, primarily across west Alabama. Most spots will remain dry through this evening. Once we get to 4PM, we will really start monitoring radar trends as we could have a few isolated thunderstorms bubble up. High temperatures on this Friday will peak near 70° in most spots as a warm front lifts from south to north across the area.
ROUND 1 OF 3: LOW-END RISK OF A SEVERE STORM OR TWO THIS EVENING… The first risk for south Alabama and northwest Florida will be a *low confidence, low-medium impact* potential. Basically, the concern is we could have a few rotating storms move in from the Gulf of Mexico later this evening (probably between 4PM and 10PM, according to the latest data). There is a high chance that these storms don’t form, but IF they do, they may quickly turn severe. The hazards in this first round of storms would be a low-end tornado risk, aka brief, spin-up tornadoes. Again, this is a low confidence risk that has a good chance of never happening, but it’s important to at least mention the risk in case we get a rogue storm or two before midnight. The core of this risk would happen primarily across west Alabama where shear and instability values will be increasing this evening.
RAIN AT TIMES OVERNIGHT; MOSTLY DRY TO THE EAST… Rain chances will progressively rise throughout the day and especially in the overnight hours. You’ll probably notice scattered, small showers progressively increase in number on the radar display. Showers will likely increase in coverage as we approach sunrise on Saturday morning.
ROUND 2 OF 3: SUPERCELLS & TORNADO RISK ON SATURDAY… The second risk for our local area involves the potential for supercell or discrete storms to form out ahead of the main squall line on Saturday. This is a *low-medium confidence, high impact* potential. If supercell storms form, they will do so in an environment that is favorable for tornado formation. In addition, there is some chance that some of the tornadoes could be strong or significant (EF2+). We note that some of the higher-resolution convective allowing models (CAMS) have suggested a very real potential for supercells forming between 9AM and 5PM on Saturday. If or when supercell thunderstorms form, our tornado risk would go up considerably.
ROUND 3 OF 3: SQUALL LINE FEATURING EMBEDDED TORNADOES & HIGH WIND… More often than not as of late, we get a weakening or paltry line of thunderstorms moving through our area that really doesn’t bring much of an impact except heavy rain and occasional lightning. That will almost certainly NOT be the case this time. This will be a significant, severe squall line of thunderstorms that will push across our region from 10AM to 6PM Saturday. This is a *high confidence, medium-high impact* potential, aka what we are most confident about in this particular severe weather setup. If and when your area goes under a severe thunderstorm warning, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. Don’t drive in a severe thunderstorm warning! I would strongly suggest treating all severe thunderstorm warnings on Saturday like a tornado warning. I *EXPECT* scattered to numerous reports of trees being blown down because of this squall line, thus scattered power outages may quickly become a problem across our region.
SIGNIFICANT WIND EVENT AHEAD ACROSS MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, & NW FLORIDA… The wind speeds at about 5,000 feet off the ground (the 850 millibar height) are absolutely screaming with this severe weather setup. We’ve covered hundreds of severe weather days over the last 5 years since RedZone Weather started and I cannot recall an event where I’ve seen wind speeds at that height in the atmosphere like this. This will likely be a major wind event, almost like a derecho, across Mississippi and Alabama as this squall line moves through. The big concern is trees being blown down, which is yet another reason people should NOT be driving during severe thunderstorm warnings on Saturday!
THE SEVERE WEATHER RISK FINALLY ENDS SATURDAY EVENING… It’s certainly not often that we get a solid WEEK of notice in advance of severe weather. The whole ordeal will come to an end by 7PM on Saturday as storms exit our area to the east into parts of the Wiregrass and the Florida Panhandle. There could be a few lingering rain showers into Saturday night. Rain clears out and we will likely be dry for Sunday morning.
FEW SHOWERS SUNDAY AFTERNOON & EVENING… Showers quickly return to the forecast on Sunday in the afternoon and evening hours. Mostly cloudy skies are expected throughout the day with high temperatures in the low-70s.
RAIN & STORMS LIKELY ON MONDAY… Numerous showers and thunderstorms will be possible on Monday as a warm front lifts northward and stalls across our region. For now, the severe weather risk on Monday looks marginal at most. There could be rumbles of thunder throughout the day with heavy rain being possible at times, but the overall severe weather risk on Monday is LOW for now.
UNSETTLED MIDDLE PART OF NEXT WEEK… Warm, humid air will remain in place across the region until at least Wednesday of next week, allowing the chance of showers and thunderstorms on both days. Rain could be heavy at times and there could be some thunder involved each day, particularly in the afternoon hours. High temperatures will be in the mid-70s on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Temperatures should finally go lower and be closer to our seasonal norms by Thursday and Friday of the upcoming week.
APP… Many, MANY updates will be posted throughout the day in the RedZone Weather app. redzoneweather.com/app is the link for the free download. Be sure to visit the Alerts tab (bottom right corner) and tap the large, yellow “Alert Settings” button to customize the alerts you’d like to receive from me. If you like a lot of info, be sure to toggle ON Low-Level Alerts.