6:49AM December 23, 2020

SEVERE STORMS POSSIBLE THURSDAY MORNING; VERY COLD AIR COMING… A line of strong to severe thunderstorms is expected to cross our region from west to east early on Thursday morning as a strong cold front arrives. The entire local area remains involved in the Level 1 (out of 5) severe weather risk through tomorrow morning. We encourage everyone to have a way to receive urgent weather warnings tonight before you go to sleep as the severe weather risk will likely ramp up before many people wake up in the morning. Much colder air arrives after the passage of the squall line. There could be significant pressure gradient winds throughout the day on Christmas Eve Thursday, long after the rain and storms move east of our area. We will be posting updates throughout the night in the RedZone Weather app. As always, IF tornado warnings are required for any part of our local coverage area, we will go live on Facebook and bring you uninterrupted video coverage until the warning ends. Your Wednesday morning forecast notes are below.

INCREASING CLOUDINESS TODAY… Cloud coverage will increase today ahead of the potential for a few sprinkles or showers this evening into tonight. High temperatures on this Wednesday will be in the mid- to upper-60s across the region. Rain will first become possible this evening across west Alabama. Heavier rain is set to happen in the early morning hours of Thursday, however. Temperatures are expected to remain in the 60s through this evening.

STRONG TO SEVERE STORMS POSSIBLE THURSDAY MORNING… Rain and thunderstorms will move across our region from west to east on Thursday morning, mainly from 3AM to 9AM. The 12 hour window when storms will be possible will be from 10PM tonight to 10AM Thursday, but clearly 3AM to 9AM is the 6 hour window when storms seem most likely. There is a chance some of these storms may be strong or severe. The main “storm mode” in this setup is likely to be a QLCS, better known as a squall line, that moves across our area in the morning hours of Thursday. This means that the main concern will likely be damaging straight line wind gusts capable of knocking down a few trees across the region. Tornadoes will also be possible.

MAIN CONCERN: DAMAGING WIND GUSTS… This weather system features the classic “high shear, low CAPE” setup that is all too common around here in the cold season. Fortunately, CAPE/instability values are expected to be somewhat meager. There will be plenty of wind/shear for the storms to work with, however, thus leading to a chance that some of the storms briefly become strong or severe.

FEW TORNADOES ALSO POSSIBLE… The entirety of south Alabama and northwest Florida is involved in a severe weather risk zone into Thursday morning, meaning we all have at least a low-end risk of strong winds and/or tornadoes. Keep in mind, however, that vast majority of us in a setup like this will simply have heavy rain at times. Most spots likely won’t be contending with severe weather issues, but inevitably, some will. The greater tornado risk will probably set up in coastal counties where the greater instability values will be out ahead of the squall line. Again, that isn’t to say that tornadoes won’t happen inland, but the greater chance appears to be in coastal counties, particularly over northwest Florida.

LEVEL 1 (OUT OF 5) RISK… Due to the hazards discussed above, the entire local area in southwest Alabama and northwest Florida remains involved in a Level 1 (out of 5) severe weather risk zone. We note the Storm Prediction Center has added parts of southern Mississippi and Louisiana into their Level 2 (out of 5) risk zone where parameters seem slightly more supportive for severe storms, including tornadoes, this evening into early Thursday.

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.

STRONG WINDS LIKELY THURSDAY AFTER STORMS MOVE OUT… Strong “pressure gradient” winds are expected after rain and storms clear out to the east on Thursday. These 15-25 mph winds will really make the air feel quite a bit colder than it actually is throughout the day on Christmas Eve into the evening hours.

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.

MAINLY SUNNY SATURDAY… Mostly sunny skies will continue into Saturday. Temperatures will rebound into the mid-50s by the afternoon hours.

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.

See all the details in your Wednesday #rzw forecast video. Have a wonderful day!

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