Storms bring risk of damaging wind and tornadoes Saturday

Update: New info suggests higher tornado risk for parts of AL...

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama’s weather will remain calm and quiet through Friday morning, but a major storm system will bring a risk of severe thunderstorms to the state by the weekend.

Our Thursday evening is clear and comfortable with temperatures slipping into the 50s.

Showers will arrive Friday, along with a few rumbles of thunder - but we don’t anticipate severe weather tomorrow.

That all changes Saturday, though.

First Alert Weather Day Issued for Saturday: A deepening surface low will track north of Alabama, swinging a cold front towards us. At the surface, warm, muggy air will push off the Gulf and into most of Alabama; aloft, wind speeds crank up as the upper trough deepens. These ingredients will set the stage for a powerful round of thunderstorms to form west of here Friday, then move into Alabama on Saturday.

Here’s a look at timing - this is subject to change, so it is vital that you check back for updates as we get closer to Saturday.

Timing Map
Timing Map

Impacts/Threats: Pockets of wind damage, isolated tornadoes and some flooding are all possible within this line.

The risk of wind damage is substantial. Before the main line of storms ever arrives, winds throughout the day Saturday will be strong enough to knock down trees and cause power outages. Then, we expect multiple swaths of strong wind to be embedded within the line of storms, with gusts up to 70 mph possible. While the greatest risk of damaging wind will likely be over the northern half of central Alabama, the risk extends across the entire state.

Wind threat
Wind threat

Because power outages could occur before the main line of severe storms arrives, make sure to charge your electronic devices Friday night, and for as long as possible Saturday. That way you’ll still be able to receive weather alerts and stream our live coverage on the First Alert Weather App in the case of an outage.

The tornado risk is harder to assess. Within the line, there could be some embedded pockets of rotation that create tornadoes. The tornado risk would increase if individual, discrete storms form ahead of the line. These details are still TBD.

Tornado Risk
Tornado Risk

Small scale processes could increase or decrease the overall risk of severe weather. We won’t have a clear picture about those processes until tomorrow and Saturday morning. And, there are also questions regarding the “mode” of storm development - clusters, lines or individual cells - that will increase or decrease the risk. For now, we’ll call it a “Medium” risk of severe weather.

Bottom Line: There is at least some risk of severe weather across ALL of Alabama Saturday. This risk could include damaging wind and tornadoes. You need multiple, reliable ways of getting weather warnings - the WSFA First Alert Weather App, NOAA Weather Radio and WEA Alerts on your phone are all good options. You also need to know where you’d go if a tornado warning is issued for your area. If you live in a mobile home and it takes you more than five minutes to reach the closest permanent, sturdy structure, then you should consider leaving your mobile home BEFORE a tornado warning is issued.

7 Day
7 Day

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