MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Another very warm, dry Spring day lies ahead Thursday, which is great news for our big Severe Weather Event in Opelika. We’ll be outside the Administration Building at Southern Union’s Opelika campus from 4-7pm; we’ll have free food for the first 400 people to arrive, representatives from the National Weather Service, Lee County EMA, Alabama EMA, Small Business Administration, and contractors who can provide storm shelters, plumbing and HVAC repairs and advice to those who saw their homes damaged in recent tornadoes. Throw in some bouncy houses for the kids, and we will feed you, teach you, and show you a fun time!
A front approaches from the west on Friday, but it stalls before reaching us. That will mean scattered showers and a few rumbles of thunder for both Friday and Saturday, but we do not expect severe weather.
Then, Saturday night, a strong cold front plows into the Deep South. With favorable wind shear profiles and ample lift, thunderstorms are a near certainty. The key question revolves around the tornado/damaging storm risk. And, there are still more questions than answers. A line of intense storms will likely move into west Alabama after midnight Saturday night, and sweep eastward across the state between 3am and 3pm on Sunday.
The European solution is more concerning, and shows the potential for multiple tornadoes, damaging wind and hail. The Canadian and American long range model (GFS) are much less worrisome, and indicate a line of storms with a relatively smaller risk of severe weather. For now, we’ll continue mention a low risk of tornadoes, damaging wind and hail, but the precise magnitude of this risk is likely to change as new data becomes available later this week.
Regardless, it’s never a bad time to prepare for severe weather. You need multiple, reliable ways of getting weather warnings, and a safe place you can reach quickly in the event you are placed under a tornado warning polygon. If you live in a mobile or manufactured home, you have to pay more attention to the weather, and check it often on severe weather days. And, you need to find a sturdy structure you can reach in under 10 minutes, if at all possible. If that’s not possible, you need to consider leaving your mobile or manufactured home when a tornado watch is issued.