All eyes on Ida

Alabama impacts are possible by late Sunday into Monday
Tropical Storm Ida has formed; what does that mean for Alabama?
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:22 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 9:35 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Tropical Storm Ida is becoming better organized tonight near Jamaica; satellite data shows a system that is slowly strengthening and forming a center of circulation. Precisely where this center forms is critical for Ida’s future. A center that forms farther west will result in a storm that tracks more to the west, perhaps as far west as southwest Louisiana or southeast Texas.

A center that forms farther east will pull Ida’s destination eastward - perhaps as far east as the Alabama or northwest Florida Gulf Coast.

So, the next 12-24 hours will be critical.

Ida will then move across Cuba tomorrow and tomorrow night. How this interaction with land affects the storm’s inner structure will also be important - hopefully, Cuba will scrape it up a bit.

But, after Cuba - look out. Saturday and Saturday night, Ida will move over extremely warm water and negligible wind shear. This will almost certainly result in intensification, perhaps rapid and significant intensification. It is likely that we’ll have a major hurricane in the Gulf by the time your head hits the pillow Saturday night. The storm will barrel northwest quickly, making landfall along the northern Gulf Coast on Sunday.

Of course, the exact impacts are tied to the exact track. For now, that remains a fairly low confidence forecast. But, it will become much, much clearer soon. Once the storm clears Cuba, it will interact with some fairly strong steering currents. This makes the forecast track far more predictable! Weak steering currents make for a difficult track forecast, but strong steering currents usually result in excellent computer model agreement and an excellent track forecast.

By Friday night into Saturday morning, we should have a very clear picture of Ida’s exact track and impacts to us here in Alabama. For now, just understand there could be a combination of wind, isolated tornadoes and heavy rain around here late Sunday into Monday and Tuesday.

Daily chances for showers and thunderstorms will continue here for the foreseeable future across central Alabama. It’ll feel and look just like late August should: it won’t rain everywhere on any given day, but we will certainly have those typical summertime isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms each afternoon and evening.

Each day’s exact rain chance varies, but the percentages are in the 30-50% range. As new data come in, those rain chances may be adjusted slightly... whether it be up or down. The main takeaway is that no one day looks to be a washout, but be prepared for the potential of localized heavy rain, lighting and gusty winds if and when storms do fire on radar.

Scattered showers along with heat + humidity will continue through the weekend...
Scattered showers along with heat + humidity will continue through the weekend...(WSFA 12 News)

High temperatures will be in the 90s with each day. Whenever your location isn’t seeing rain, expect a partly cloudy sky with those fair weather cumulus clouds that resemble cotton balls across the sky.

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