Good early Thursday morning! Many of you have heard about the prospects of the white stuff coming close to our area, and since the event is now 12-18 hours away, we can better pinpoint in the form of a blog what the impacts will be to our viewing area. As of 2 AM EST, Chambers County, Alabama is the only county in our viewing area under some kind of advisory from the National Weather Service; a winter weather advisory is in effect there for amounts of a half inch to up to 2 inches of snow possible. Further to the north, some places in the state may receive up to 4 inches before all is said and done; a winter storm warning is in effect for those areas, including the entire length of I-20 through the state through Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and the Anniston/Gadsden areas. The National Weather Service does note that “a dusting to a half inch of snow may occur south of the advisory area.” Could places like Auburn/Opelika see a dusting of snow on grassy areas before all is said and done? That’s certainly a possibility still on the table now.

As for Georgia, the National Weather Service has decided to go with just a winter weather advisory basically along and north of I-20 from Carrollton to Atlanta and then to just north of Athens. I would not be surprised to see the advisory updated to a winter storm warning sometime later this morning. Could we see a dusting of snow on the Georgia side of the river in our viewing area? Certainly…I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of the ground turning white in Troup and Meriwether counties, and even some spotty reports from Harris and Talbot counties.

The million dollar question: what about Columbus? As of right now, I don’t think this will be an event to get excited about if you are in Columbus proper, but this is subject to change as the event unfolds. Current forecasts right now show the heaviest band of snow setting up shop to the north and west of the city. I wouldn’t be shocked at this point to see a few flakes mixed in with light rain as the precipitation draws to a close tomorrow evening, but I think conditions will be a tad too warm and the city will be too far away from the best dynamics of the storm system to get any kind of accumulating snow.

We’ll post updates here as conditions warrant!

-Dana

Testing

Good Saturday morning! Here’s the forecast for the college football games going on today. Auburn is off this week, while the other three major schools in the two-state area are at home.

GEORGIA TECH (vs. Middle Tennessee State, 12 PM EDT at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta): It will be a rainy weekend in the ATL, but the game should go off without a hitch. It will be humid as well with considerable clouds. Temperatures will rise from around 80 at kickoff to the 83-86 range by the end of the game. There’s a slight chance of rain throughout, but we think the rain will hold off until late afternoon.

GEORGIA (vs. Tennessee, 3:30 PM EDT at Sanford Stadium in Athens): Weather may not be a factor to begin the big SEC East battle between the Vols and Dawgs, but as the game goes on, the chance of rain will increase. There will be large parts of the game rain-free, but I don’t think the game will be able to finish without at least a few drops. Outside of the rain, temperatures will be in the mid 80s and very humid…any rainfall will push temperatures down into the lower to middle 70s.

ALABAMA (vs. Ole Miss, 9:15 PM CDT/8:15 PM CDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa): Current indications are this may be a wet one. Not a total washout, but periods of showers are expected throughout the game. Temperatures will be in the 74-78 degree range, but the humidity will make it not so pleasant even outside the showers.

Enjoy the weekend!

-D

Good Thursday afternoon, everyone! After some patchy early morning fog that was dense in some spots, we’ve seen brilliant sunshine and blue skies heading into the afternoon hours over the area. Temperatures are running a couple of degrees below normal with low to mid 80′s the rule over the area. We’ll have the same clear conditions tonight as we did last night; temperatures will bottom out a couple of degrees warmer than they did this morning, with mid 60s the rule except for a few readings flirting with the 60 degree mark in traditionally colder areas.

Tomorrow will see a slight uptick in daytime highs as well with a slight southerly wind kicking up ahead of our next front. Highs will be in the mid to upper 80s over the area with perhaps one or two touching the 90 degree mark. Lows Friday night will be in the 63-69 range as south winds pump in more humidity, preventing lows from bottoming out as low as they have over the past couple of nights.

On Saturday, a cold front will arrive over the area. Some of our forecast models show a slight chance of rain for the area, while some keep us dry. We could very well see a “dry” frontal passage since most of the energy associated with the front is far to the north near the Canadian border. There will certainly be some clouds associated with the front, however. Highs will be in the mid to upper 80s and will again flirt with 90 in a few spots, but that should be the last of the near 90 degree highs for a while.

The cooler air mass will begin to filter into the region Saturday night with widespread lows in the upper 50s and lower 60s. On Sunday, bright sunshine will be prevalent with highs several degrees cooler, in the 79-83 range for most.

Sunday night and Monday morning will see the coldest air so far over the region. A slight northwesterly breeze will still be bringing in the cooler air mass, and some places will likely see lows in the upper 40s before all is said and done on Monday morning. The latest run of one of the computer models puts the 50 degree line (shown as a “10″ on the map for 10 degrees Celsius, which is 50 degrees Fahrenheit) right through the middle of our area:

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After Monday, the air mass will moderate ever so slightly, but we’ll still see highs around 80 and lows in the 50s for most of next week. The only shot of rain in the next 10 days looks to be with the frontal passage this weekend, and after Saturday, I don’t see us making a run at 90 degrees any time in the near future…the transition from summer is definitely in full swing. Make a point to take some time this weekend and next week to get out and enjoy this beautiful fall weather!

-D

We’re in a relative minimum right now for the severe weather chances tonight. A slot of dry air has developed and is pushing into Georgia from the southern half of Alabama. We don’t expect the dry weather to last all night. As the low pressure system strengthens and moves closer, it will allow two things to happen that will promote a chance of severe weather over the area.

First, the low’s strength and proximity to the area will both act to get the wind field in the atmosphere stronger. Winds just one kilometer (about 3,000 feet) off the surface will be on the order of 40+ knots (around 50 mph). Not only could downward momentum from heavy rain cause those strong winds to reach the surface, but the difference in wind speed over such a short vertical distance (aka vertical wind shear) will lead to possible rotation in the stronger storms.

The second part of the severe weather formula could be realized as the stronger winds coming out of the south help to pull up very rich marine air from the Gulf of Mexico. This will help overcome the fact that these storms will be developing in the absence of daytime heating.

If these two things (shear and instability) occur in the right balance, we may see a few severe thunderstorms and an isolated tornado or two as we head into the wee hours of the morning. Right now, some of the computer models are showing the best combination of ingredients for severe weather to occur over our area between 3 and 5 AM EDT. This is not a guaranteed risk by any means and certainly nothing you should pull an all-nighter worrying about. However, it’s best to have a source of weather information close overnight, preferably a NOAA weather radio with an alert feature that will sound an alarm in case of a severe weather watch or warning in your area. We’ll also update you here and on Facebook and Twitter if we receive any warnings overnight.

-D

The Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch over the past hour for all of the Georgia part of the viewing area. This comes on the heels of several tornado warnings being issued in middle Tennessee between Nashville and Huntsville earlier this afternoon but no warnings in our area.

Why the severe weather threat?

An area of low pressure is starting to wind up and “deepen” (pressure becoming lower as the system becomes stronger) over southern Mississippi. In its wake, southerly flow is increasing over our area, pumping in a generous amount of Gulf moisture. The low is also creating shear over the area, as winds at the surface are from the south and southeast with a more southwest flow (and much faster) aloft. Even though the heating of the day is long gone as the sun is setting, the flow from the Gulf will keep warm, moist air around overnight that will promote updraft growth.

Below is a map from 10:00 PM tonight from one of our forecast models. This is a map of shear in the lowest kilometer of the atmosphere (in English? the difference in wind speed from the surface to 1 km into the sky). Usually, 20 knots of shear is enough to get updrafts robust enough to start rotating given other factors that will be present tonight. The yellow shows 20 knot values, with oranges, reds, and purples showing higher values. Some of the highest values (>40 kt) are over the Columbus area.

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Just because the tornado watch is in effect for our Georgia counties does NOT mean Alabama is out of the woods. The entire viewing area has a threat of damaging winds and possible tornadoes in any storms that develop into the evening and overnight hours. Be close to a source of information…we will be here on the blog with “mesoscale” updates (talking about elements that may be increasing or decreasing the threat) and will be on Facebook and Twitter (@WLTZWeather) with any warnings. The threat is not all too great, but it’s definitely wise to keep an ear or eye on weather developments.

-D

A few things to talk about on the blog for the upcoming weekend. Some VERY nice changes are in store for us. First, we have to deal with an incoming cold front…yes, cold front. A pretty strong one by September standards. The front is producing a squall line of severe thunderstorms tonight from northwestern Mississippi through the Memphis metro area into other parts of Tennessee into the Ohio Valley. This line of storms will march into the northern parts of Alabama in the morning hours, in a weakened form than they are currently. However, there may be some restrengthening of the line as it approaches our area, and isolated storms ahead of the front may develop. Most of the energy from the front and this storm system will be shunted far to the north, where parts of the Northeast from the Philadelphia corridor northeast through New York City and into parts of New England have a moderate risk for severe weather tomorrow. However, enough wind energy and shear will be present in our area where one or two storms may become severe. It will not be a widespread event by any means.

The story that may be bigger than any severe weather tomorrow will be the front ushering in the coolest temperatures so far this season and a bona fide taste of fall weather. We will already feel some of the impacts of the cooler air mass tomorrow night as lows will be in the 60-66 range across the area. Sunday will be a stark difference from tomorrow with lower humidity, and instead of highs in the lower 90′s tomorrow, they will be in the 83-87 range on Sunday. With lighter winds and the air mass even more entrenched over the area Sunday night, lows will fall a few degrees cooler. Urban areas will see lower 60s with the traditionally cooler areas seeing lows in the mid to upper 50s!

With that good news for the remainder of the weekend, here’s the college football forecast for the big games this weekend for the four major area schools (Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and Georgia Tech).

ALABAMA (vs. Western Kentucky, Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, 3:39 PM EDT/2:39 PM CDT): The #1 team in the country opens their home schedule tomorrow against Western Kentucky. We think the cold front will have cleared Tuscaloosa by kickoff, but some tailgating may be rained out as the front will pass over the area around the lunch hour. Temperatures will be in the upper 70s to lower 80s throughout the game, with winds picking up later in the game from the northwest.

AUBURN (at Mississippi State, Scott Field in Starkville, Miss., 12 PM EDT/11 AM CDT): The Tigers open SEC play tomorrow with a high noon (11 AM local) showdown with the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The timing of the front and the game will be roughly the same as it will be at kickoff in Tuscaloosa since Starkville is about 90 miles west of Tuscaloosa. There may be clouds and showers to start the game, but skies should clear and winds should increase as the game wears on. Temperatures will be in the mid to upper 70s to start the game, rising to the lower 80s by the final whistle.

GEORGIA (at Missouri, Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo., 7:45 PM EDT/6:45 PM CDT): The SEC Welcoming Committee arrives in Missouri in the form of the Georgia Bulldogs for Mizzou’s first-ever conference game. The cold front will have long passed by the University of Missouri campus, and the cooler, drier air mass will be taking hold at kickoff. Temperatures will be in the lower 70s at kickoff and will fall to a rather cool reading around 60 degrees by the final whistle…the Dawgs will definitely be one of the first recipients of true football weather.

GEORGIA TECH (vs. Presbyterian, Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, 6 PM EDT): The Jackets open up their home schedule tomorrow on the Flats. Like the ‘Bama and AU games, the cold front will be one of the highlights of this game. Look for its arrival at some point in time during the game. There may be scattered showers and thunderstorms to start the game, but the front will have passed Atlanta by the end of the game. Temperatures will be in the mid to upper 80s at kickoff but will fall into the upper 70s by the final whistle.

Enjoy the weekend!
-D

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