RZW EXEC: SIGNIFICANT ROUND OF SEVERE WEATHER POSSIBLE SUNDAY… RZW Exec partners, good Friday afternoon! Strong tornadoes, damaging winds, large hail, and isolated instances of flash flooding will be possible on Easter Sunday, April 12. Model guidance continues to “firm up” on this idea this afternoon. You should have received an email detailing all of this earlier this morning around 3AM. If you did not receive this email, please reach out to me ASAP so I can add your email to our list. Again, no major changes to pass along this afternoon. Tornadoes could be strong and long-tracked on Sunday.
Overview: Strong tornadoes are likely across parts of the Deep South, including across our local area, on Sunday in what will likely be a significant severe weather outbreak. Damaging winds, large hail, and flash flooding will also be possible.
Threat Level: Level 4 (out of 5) risk for Clarke, Washington, Choctaw, Marengo, and Wilcox counties in west Alabama. Level 3 (out of 5) risk for all other counties in south Alabama and northwest Florida. Note that regardless of the risk level or color, this is a substantial severe weather risk across the entire region.
Where: ALL of south Alabama and ALL of northwest Florida are involved in this risk zone. The greatest risk of very dangerous, long-track tornadoes will happen over west Alabama locally.
When: 2PM Sunday to 2AM Monday will be the 12 hour window when storms will be most likely to happen. 3PM to 8PM will be the core risk time for south Alabama and northwest Florida.
Risks: Multiple strong, potentially long-track, tornadoes are the main concern. All modes of severe weather, including damaging winds, hail, and flash flooding will be possible.
We will get a new convective outlook valid for Sunday probably around 2:45AM on Saturday. I’ll have the latest information for you in an email at that point. The following information from this morning remains on target with no changes needed. This is presented below for review.
RARE LEVEL 4 (OUT OF 5) RISK FOR SUNDAY; STRONG TORNADOES POSSIBLE… The Storm Prediction Center has upgraded parts of southwest Alabama into a rare Level 4 (out of 5) severe weather risk valid for Easter Sunday. While it is uncommon to have a Level 4 risk on the day of the severe weather potential, it is quite rare to have a risk this high in the outlook valid 3 days from now. This should underscore the potentially dangerous severe weather setup that is coming into focus for Sunday. Long-time viewers and readers know that I intentionally refrain from using hyperbole and hype in our products. Words like “dangerous” and “rare” are warranted in this situation as models have trended toward a setup that will favor the development of potentially long-track, strong tornadoes. There is no need to panic, but there is an urgent need today and Saturday to make sure you have your severe weather safety plan in place and ready to take action on Sunday when the weather will likely be active. Below are all the details you need to be aware of this morning.
INCREASING CLOUDINESS SATURDAY… Cloud coverage will increase on Saturday ahead of a few showers becoming possible in the afternoon and evening hours. Highs on Saturday will be in the upper-70s. Most of the rain will hold off until after 5PM.
LEVEL 4 RISK FOR BIG CHUNK OF ALABAMA… Locally, if you are in parts of Clarke, Washington, Wilcox, Marengo, or Choctaw counties, you are now involved in this very significant Level 4 (out of 5) severe weather risk zone. These are the communities in our local area that have the greatest risk on Sunday of experiencing severe weather, specifically strong tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds: Thomasville, Coffeeville, Grove Hill, Jackson, Leroy, Chatom, Millry, Yarbo, St. Stephens, Gilbertown, Toxey, Silas, Butler, Pennington, Mt. Sterling, Sweet Water, Aimwell, Dixons Mills, Linden, Pine Hill, Camden, and Millers Ferry. We note that a large swath of Alabama north of us is also included in this higher risk zone: Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Jasper, Livingston, York, Demopolis, Eutaw, Marion, Centreville, Selma, Clanton, Hoover, Montevallo, Leeds, Cullman, Double Springs, Hamilton, Russellville, Aliceville, and surrounding areas.
LEVEL 3 RISK FOR MUCH OF ALABAMA & NW FLORIDA… Let me be abundantly clear in that a Level 3 risk is still a big deal. The *entirety* of the rest of Alabama (minus the areas in the higher risk detailed above) and all of northwest Florida is involved in the Level 3 risk zone. Locally, this includes Mobile, Pensacola, Brewton, Atmore, Flomaton, Evergreen, Castleberry, Repton, Greenville, Georgiana, McKenzie, Andalusia, Opp, Florala, Monroeville, Beatrice, Uriah, Excel, Mexia, McIntosh, Citronelle, Mt. Vernon, Saraland, Satsuma, Prichard, Theodore, Dauphin Island, Bayou La Batre, Wilmer, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Foley, Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort, Bay Minette, Loxley, Silverhill, Robertsdale, Century, Bratt, Molino, Walnut Hill, Warrington, Myrtle Grove, Milton, Pace, Jay, Chumuckla, Navarre, Munson, Harold, Holt, Crestview, Baker, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Laurel Hill, and surrounding areas. This Level 3 enhanced risk also includes other places in Alabama extending into the Florida Panhandle region: Montgomery, Auburn, Troy, Luverne, Geneva, Tuskegee, Wetumpka, Prattville, Dothan, Enterprise, Abbeville, Geneva, Elba, Daleville, Eufaula, Alexander City, Valley, Roanoke, Gadsden, Huntsville, Decatur, and Florence.
SHOWERS & STORMS POSSIBLE BEFORE SUNDAY SUNRISE… Isolated showers with a few thunderstorms will be possible Saturday night into the early part of Sunday across south Alabama and northwest Florida Some model guidance has suggested parts of central Alabama could have a few strong storms EARLY Sunday (separate than the “main event” aka more potent round of severe storms later in the day). For now, clearly the greatest danger of severe storms and tornadoes locally will happen late in the day on Sunday, but this potential first round of storms is something we will need to keep an eye on in the guidance as Sunday morning approaches. We’ll be monitoring a warm front that moves across our area either late Saturday or early Sunday that will put our area in a very unstable, moist, warm airmass that will act as a prime environment for storms Sunday evening.
BREAK IN THE ACTION – SUNDAY MORNING… There is a high chance we will get a break in the rain and a break in the storms on Easter Sunday morning. Most model guidance points to this break continuing into the early afternoon hours as well. This is potentially good for any Easter morning services happening online or perhaps in a drive-in church situation if this situation verifies, but it is bad in the sense that we could have quite a bit of sunshine involved that would really ramp up the instability levels in the atmosphere to support intense storms late in the day. Temperatures will surge well into the 80s on Sunday afternoon as the air increasingly becomes buoyant and unstable.
SEVERE WEATHER TIMING – SUNDAY… 2PM on Sunday to 2AM on Monday is the 12 hour window when severe weather will be most likely to happen across south Alabama and northwest Florida. The greatest impacts to happen from 3PM to 8PM. Please have a way to receive urgent weather warnings before you go to sleep Saturday night just in case warnings are required earlier than anticipated.
SEVERE STORMS LIKELY SUNDAY EVENING… Let me be clear that this will likely be the most potent round of severe weather we have had in 2019 or 2020 so far. I certainly don’t like getting into the business of trying to compare a severe weather potential with past events as all severe weather setups are unique and different. This setup has the makings of a “red-letter day,” meaning a day we will remember because of the high degree of impact in terms of severe weather. Obviously we do not know for sure whether this event will pan out as indicated, but I can tell you: If it does, this will be a significant round of severe weather with multiple, potentially strong or intense, tornadoes being possible. We will need to take ALL warnings (both tornado warnings AND severe thunderstorm warnings) seriously and heed the warnings quickly.
STRONG TORNADOES POSSIBLE… Supercell thunderstorms that become discrete and isolated on Sunday evening will have plenty of fuel (instability), plenty of moisture (high dewpoints), plenty of shear, and plenty of helicity (veering of the winds as you go higher in the atmosphere) that will allow for the development of potentially significant and strong tornadoes. While there is uncertainty as to if supercells will become likely locally, there is currently a strong possibility of this happening. ALL tornadoes, big and small, are serious. Strong tornadoes tend to stay on the ground longer than their “weaker” counterparts, however.
DAMAGING WIND ALSO POSSIBLE… In addition to the pronounced tornado threat, I also am concerned about damaging “straight line” winds. It is too early to see the small-scale features on the higher-resolution models just yet, but I suspect the overall setup will feature discrete storms out ahead of a squall line that will move through to bring the severe weather threat to a close late Sunday evening or perhaps very early in the morning hours of Monday. Damaging wind would be the main concern in this squall line.
LARGE HAIL POSSIBLE… Discrete storms tend to also be large hail producers. If we get a group of supercell thunderstorms moving across our area, don’t be surprised to see large hail (perhaps as large as half dollars or golf balls) being a major concern in addition to the tornado risk.
HAVE YOUR TORNADO HELMET READY… It cannot be stressed enough that everyone (both children AND adults) needs some type of head protection, whether that is a helmet or a makeshift helmet like a cooking pot. Emerging research continues to show that wearing a helmet during a tornado that strikes your location greatly increases your chance of survival. Why? Because majority of fatal injuries that happen due to tornadoes happen because of blunt force trauma to the head/skull region. Thus, if we can mitigate this hazard in any way, we should. That’s where helmets and cooking pots come into the equation. Anything is better than nothing in this case. This means if you can grab a football, baseball, softball, bicycle, motorcycle, ballistics, or welding helmet and put it on, it will highly likely help you survive a tornado impact. Note this helmet deal isn’t just for children. It applies to everyone, no matter if you’re 8, 28, or 88 years old. Everyone needs a severe weather helmet. I cannot recommend them to you enough! See the full tornado preparedness post from last night here.
COVID-19 AND TORNADO WARNING GUIDELINES… We are in a weird time when the guidelines on what to do during a tornado warning versus what to do regarding social distancing because of COVID-19 may seem to conflict. If you, your family, or your friends use a community underground storm shelter, please take the opportunity to read the recommended guidelines established by our local National Weather Service offices and the state health department. Basically, the tornado warning takes precedence over social distancing when/if necessary as the tornado is the more immediate threat. Here is the post outlining those details.
TORNADO WARNING POLICY… Any time there is an active tornado warning in effect for southwest Alabama or northwest Florida, we provide uninterrupted, live video coverage on Facebook Live and in the RedZone Weather app. Our detailed coverage commitment is outlined at redzoneweather.com/coverage. We are proud to cover all parts of Escambia (AL), Covington, Monroe, Conecuh, Baldwin, Mobile, Clarke, Washington, Butler, Escambia (FL), Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties. If you live in any locale in those counties, be sure to tune into our coverage whenever there is an active tornado warning!
SUNNY & WARM MONDAY INTO TUESDAY… Once the storms clear out early Monday morning, much better weather is ahead for the daytime hours of Monday into Tuesday. High temperatures will be in the mid-80s with plenty of sunshine each day.
CARDS FOR THE ELDERLY… Please don’t forget to take advantage of our new RedZone Weather Cards for the Elderly program. We want to be able to safely send as many encouraging cards as possible to our local senior adults in nursing homes. Be sure to visit the link below for all the information. This is an opportunity for students and adults across our region to write encouraging notes to elderly people currently under lockdown in local nursing homes due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Here is the link.
APP ALERTS… Now is the time, long before we get to this severe weather potential, to set up the RedZone Weather app on your smartphone! redzoneweather.com/app is the link where you can download the iOS or Android version of the app. Once you have the app downloaded to your device, be sure to visit the Alerts tab (lower right corner of the app), then tap the large, yellow Alert Settings button to customize the alerts you would like to receive straight from me.
I will have updates throughout the day in the RedZone Weather app. My next detailed update will be available later today. Have a great Friday!