LINE OF STRONG TO SEVERE STORMS TO MOVE THRU THURSDAY MORNING… The Storm Prediction Center has upgraded parts of our coastal counties into their Level 2 (out of 5) risk where scattered severe storms may happen on Thursday morning. The main concern, as a line of strong to severe storms moves through in the morning hours of Christmas Eve, will be the potential for damaging wind gusts and a few tornadoes. I encourage everyone to have a way to get urgent weather warnings tonight before you go to sleep in case warnings are needed in your location early in the morning before you wake up. After storms depart tomorrow morning, winds will continue to howl out of the northwest behind the cold front. These “pressure gradient” winds will be capable of knocking down a few trees or tree branches across the region. More Wednesday midday forecast notes are below.
LEVEL 2 (OUT OF 5) RISK ADDED FOR COASTAL COUNTIES… The greater risk for tornadoes and damaging wind gusts tomorrow morning will happen in coastal counties. This is largely driven by a brief area of instability that will be moving ahead of the line of storms. This slightly enhanced instability area will be capable of supporting damaging wind gusts and a tornado or two. This Level 2 (out of 5) risk zone includes Mobile, Pensacola, Daphne, Fairhope, Spanish Fort, Point Clear, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Foley, Summerdale, Robertsdale, Loxley, Bayou La Batre, Theodore, Dauphin Island, Prichard, Jay, Century, Walnut Hill, Bratt, Molino, Chumuckla, Berrydale, Munson, Milton, Pace, Gulf Breeze, Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key, Warrington, Navarre, Mary Esther, Crestview, Baker, and surrounding areas.
LEVEL 1 (OUT OF 5) RISK FOR ALL OTHER LOCAL COMMUNITIES… Inland areas remain involved in the low-end, Level 1 (out of 5) marginal severe weather risk where a few strong to severe storms may happen. This zone includes Thomasville, Grove Hill, Jackson, Chatom, Millry, Leroy, Deer Park, Citronelle, Mt. Vernon, Atmore, Brewton, Poarch, Huxford, Monroeville, Uriah, Excel, Beatrice, Tunnel Springs, Evergreen, Range, Repton, Lenox, Brooklyn, Greenville, Georgiana, Luverne, Andalusia, Opp, Florala, Camden, Butler, Silas, Toxey, Troy, Enterprise, Elba, Geneva, and surrounding areas.
SEVERE WEATHER TIMING… 10AM tonight to 10AM Thursday is the 12 hour window for severe storms, however it seems like the main risk will be from 3AM to 9AM tomorrow morning. Please have a way to receive urgent weather warnings tonight BEFORE you go to sleep.
MAIN HAZARDS: DAMAGING WIND GUSTS & TORNADOES… The main “storm mode” with this passing weather system will likely be a squall line (technically known these days as a QLCS or quasi-linear convective system).This means that the greatest hazard potential will likely be damaging straight line winds that may be capable of knocking down a few trees. A tornado or two may also be possible in the line of storms. We also will need to watch for any discrete storms that form out ahead of the main line, as sometimes these lone cells can cause an enhanced tornado potential. Based on the setup, however, it looks like the main line of storms will probably be the “main event” with this round of storms.
STRONG WINDS TO PERSIST AFTER STORMS DEPART… Cold air will move in behind the squall line as a strong cold front continues to push southeast across our region. Strong winds (outside of the line of storms) will continue into the late morning and afternoon hours of Christmas Eve, even long after storms are gone to our east. These 20-30 mph winds could be problematic for trees that were weakened by Hurricane Sally and Hurricane Zeta several weeks ago. I would strongly suggest securing any loose objects in your yards TODAY, before our weather becomes active in the overnight hours.
MUCH COLDER AIR ARRIVES THURSDAY AFTERNOON… Cold air is on the way – and that may be perceived as an understatement by many. Temperatures are set to “go the wrong way” all day on Thursday. We will technically have our high temperature just after midnight (likely in the low-60s). Once the squall line and cold front pass through your location, temperatures will take a tumble. Most spots across the region will be in the mid- to upper-40s by the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
TEMPS BELOW FREEZING CHRISTMAS MORNING… Santa Claus is going to feel very much “at home” across our region for his ride across Alabama and northwest Florida as very cold air will be in place Christmas Eve Night into Christmas morning on Friday. Overnight lows will be below freezing in all 67 Alabama counties and also in the inland parts of our northwest Florida counties. Most spots will be in the mid- to upper-20s by 6AM Friday. Quite cold!
QUITE COLD ON CHRISTMAS DAY… Our headline last night read, “Coldest Christmas Day Locally Since 1995.” Yes, indeed. This will likely be the coldest Christmas Day we have had in 25 years! Despite full sunshine, high temperatures on Friday will only be in the mid- to upper-40s. That crystal clear blue sky will allow for temperatures to quickly drop by the evening hours.
HARD FREEZE POSSIBLE CHRISTMAS NIGHT… There is a real chance we enter into “hard freeze” territory Christmas Night into Saturday morning. There will be an extended period (10-12 hours, potentially) of below freezing temperatures. There is a chance some spots across the interior of southwest Alabama may dip into the low-20s by daybreak on Saturday.
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 updates as needed overnight posted in the RedZone Weather app. Have a great evening!