7:26PM December 22, 2020

COLDEST CHRISTMAS DAY LOCALLY SINCE 1995; STRONG STORMS POSSIBLE THURSDAY MORNING… We are forecasting the coldest Christmas Day we’ve seen in the last 25 years with highs projected to be in the upper-40s and near 50 with morning lows in the mid- to upper-20s. It simply does not get this cold specifically for Christmas Day very often around here. After spending some time combing through the archive data for a local METAR weather station at the Pensacola Airport, it has become clear this will be the coldest Christmas we have had since 1995 (see the detailed data below). Before we get there, we have a round of rain and storms set to move by Wednesday night into Thursday morning that could be strong to marginally severe. Damaging wind gusts and tornadoes may become a concern. In addition, pressure gradient winds AFTER the strong to severe storms will be possible. A few Tuesday evening forecast notes are below.

FEW SHOWERS POSSIBLE LATE IN THE DAY ON WEDNESDAY… Cloud coverage will increase throughout the day on Wednesday. High temperatures will be in the upper-60s. I expect much of the day Wednesday to be dry, but we could begin to see showers develop after 1PM, particularly across west Alabama. Rain chances will progressively increase through the evening hours. For now, it seems like the severe weather issues are more likely to happen in the early morning hours of Thursday.

LEVEL 1 (OUT OF 5) SEVERE WEATHER RISK ZONE EXPANDED… Unlike last night when only coastal areas were included in the severe weather risk zone, the Storm Prediction Center has expanded the Level 1 (out of 5) risk zone to include a big swath of Alabama and all of northwest Florida. ALL of south Alabama and northwest Florida is now included in the risk zone, meaning isolated instances of damaging wind gusts and tornadoes will be possible.

SEVERE WEATHER TIMING… The 12 hour window for isolated strong to severe storms is likely to set up from 10PM Wednesday to 10AM Thursday, with the main window likely being from 3AM to 8AM. This means that this severe weather risk will begin when many people are asleep, thus we need to have everyone to have a way to get warnings before you go to bed on Wednesday night. As always, please make sure to pass this info along to people that may be less “weather aware” than you are.

VERY COLD AIR ARRIVES BEHIND THE COLD FRONT… After the rain and storms, much cooler air is poised to move into the entire region. We will have our high temperature (around 64 degrees) on Christmas Eve Thursday technically just after midnight as temperatures will “go the wrong way” all day. By 2PM, most spots will be in the mid-40s with most spots falling into the upper-30s by 8PM. Santa Claus looks to have a nice ride across south Alabama and northwest Florida as rain and clouds will be well to our east. It is important to note rain will be long gone by the time freezing temperatures arrive and no snow or mixed precipitation is expected locally with this passing weather system.

VERY COLD CHRISTMAS DAY ON FRIDAY… Most spots locally will start the day in the upper-20s with high temperatures rising only into the upper-40s by 2PM on Christmas Day. Friday night into Saturday will be QUITE cold as well with some spots likely having overnight lows in the mid-20s, especially north of the U.S. Highway 84 corridor in communities like Greenville, Forest Home, Beatrice, Tunnel Springs, Thomasville, Fulton, and Coffeeville.

LAST 25 YEARS OF CHRISTMAS DAY HIGHS/LOWS FOR PENSACOLA… I spent some time earlier today expanding our dataset to see just how cold it has been on Christmas Day in our region over the last 25 years. It turns out the type of cold we are forecasting for Christmas Day on Friday locally is quite uncommon. The dataset below is formatted like this: High/low in Year.

Projection: 49/26 in 2020
71/54 in 2019
64/47 in 2018
53/39 in 2017
74/61 in 2016
75/70 in 2015
57/38 in 2014
51/33 in 2013
73/58 in 2012
66/55 in 2011
50/37 in 2010
56/38 in 2009
73/64 in 2008
52/42 in 2007
68/48 in 2006
56/45 in 2005
41/34 in 2004
50/33 in 2003
51/37 in 2002
49/34 in 2001
60/39 in 2000
50/32 in 1999
46/39 in 1998
67/47 in 1997
61/34 in 1996
54/26 in 1995

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!

APP ALERTS… redzoneweather.com/app is the link where you can download the free RedZone Weather app. We post brief updates throughout each day in the app, keeping you up-to-date about the latest happenings in weather across south Alabama and northwest Florida. Once you have the free app downloaded to your iOS or Android device, be sure to visit the Alerts tab (lower right corner) then tap the large, yellow Alert Settings button to customize the alerts you would like to receive straight from me.

I’ll have your next regularly scheduled forecast video posted by 7:15AM tomorrow. Have a great evening!

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