FINAL PREP SHOULD BE COMPLETE; SEVERE STORMS LIKELY ON SATURDAY… There continues to be a considerable risk of tornadoes and damaging winds on Saturday as a potent weather system marches across Alabama and northwest Florida from the west. Multiple tornado, damaging wind, and hail reports have come in this evening from parts of eastern Oklahoma, Texas, and western Arkansas. Our severe weather risk in south Alabama and northwest Florida will be highest from 9AM to 5PM on Saturday as an intense squall line of storms moves through. There could also be discrete, supercell storms out ahead of the main line that could produce tornadoes. Let’s look at a few more details.
HAPPENING NOW – SITUATION OVERVIEW… Rain and a few thunderstorms continue to stream inland across our region as of 8PM. There have been a few broadly rotating thunderstorms over parts of Washington and Choctaw counties in west Alabama in the last few hours. Storms have also been rotating just across the Alabama-Mississippi state line in parts of Wayne (MS) and Greene (MS) counties. The showers in progress across parts of Baldwin, Escambia (AL), Mobile, Monroe, and Conecuh counties right now are well under severe limits. All of the severe weather action has, so far, happened across parts of Texas, eastern Oklahoma, and western Arkansas. These are the areas involved in the Level 4 (out of 5) risk tonight.
WHAT TO EXPECT – OVERNIGHT INTO EARLY SATURDAY… Showers and thunderstorms will likely increase in coverage overnight. Don’t be surprised to hear some rumbles of thunder overnight and hear some rain at times. I suspect that nearly all of us will be without any severe weather issues tonight and overnight until dawn on Saturday, however we do have a LOW-END risk of a strong storm or two before sunrise. That means I need everyone to have a way to get warnings before you go to sleep. You need something like a NOAA Weather Radio or Wireless Emergency Alerts on a smartphone that will wake you up if you happen to go under a tornado warning polygon overnight.
SUPERCELLS & TORNADO RISK ON SATURDAY… We are concerned about the potential for supercell or discrete storms to form out ahead of the main squall line on Saturday. These storms would form well in advance of the squall line of main storms that are set to move through tomorrow afternoon. 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. Be on guard pretty much anytime after sunrise on Saturday for tornado warnings!
STRONG SQUALL LINE FEATURING EMBEDDED TORNADOES & HIGH WIND… This will be a significant, severe squall line of thunderstorms that will push across our region from 10AM to 6PM Saturday. This is the feature we are most confident about on Saturday. 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. I expect there to be multiple tornado warnings ALONG the squall line, which is a bit out of the ordinary for our local area. This means embedded tornadoes in the main line of storms is a very real possibility.
COVERAGE POLICY… Anytime there is an active Tornado WARNING polygon for any part of our 12 county coverage area in south Alabama or northwest Florida, we provide live, nonstop video coverage in the Live tab of the RedZone Weather app and on Facebook Live. redzoneweather.com/coverage outlines this in extensive detail.
APP… Be sure to download our free RedZone Weather app if you haven’t done so already. redzoneweather.com/app is the link where you can download the app for your iOS or Android device. Once you have the app downloaded, be sure to visit the Alerts tab in the lower right corner of the app to select the specific notifications you would like to receive straight from me.
Below are some review paragraphs from previous posts that remain on target as of 8PM this evening.
LEVEL 3 RISK AREA ON SATURDAY… This remains unchanged as of 8PM on Friday evening. 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.
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!
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.
I will have many brief updates in the hours ahead in the RedZone Weather app. My next longer form discussion and graphic will be posted by 7:15AM on Saturday unless severe weather coverage is required before that. Get some sleep and let’s buckle up starting early tomorrow morning!