MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - For a brief moment, temperatures in Montgomery this morning dipped to 59 degrees. That exact number is our average high on February 1st. So you probably have a pretty good idea of whether we're going to be warm or cold for the rest of the day today. Warm air and impressive moisture levels will continue to stream into Alabama. While today will be relatively quiet, we're waiting on the well-advertised cold front to approach later Tuesday. That will open the window for a round of potentially strong to severe storms for parts of the area...
TODAY: It will feel like a typical Spring day...just in February. Temperatures will climb well into the 70s this afternoon with upper 70s possible in a few spots. Dew points this morning are already in the lower 60s, so the air mass is humid for this time of year. This humidity will allow for the continued development of isolated showers throughout the day and even overnight tonight. Rain chances will be no higher than 30%, so much of the day will be dry. Clouds should dominate with only brief peeks of sunshine.
TUESDAY: We'll wake up Tuesday to a similar story of warm air, humidity, scattered rain & patchy fog. The much-anticipated cold front will still be lurking a good ways off to our west through the first half of the day. There is no threat for severe weather through the early afternoon Tuesday.
By afternoon, we'll start to change our tune. Heating of the day will result in instability ramping up across western Alabama. Enough lift could be in place to generate thunderstorms mainly west of I-65. This will likely be the start of our severe weather window. The combination of instability and increasing shear could allow for discrete cells to develop late in the afternoon and evening. The greatest chance of this occurring would be across far western parts of our viewing area...Dallas, Wilcox, Monroe, Marengo for example. EHI values (a metric used to forecast tornado potential) are maximized in west Alabama late afternoon into the evening.
The overall greatest risk for severe weather is expected to remain northwest of our region. Draw a line from roughly Tuscaloosa to Huntsville. Points along and north of that line share the greatest risk. So from this standpoint...this bodes well for us. We are not under the bullseye of greatest concern. However, our concern certainly is not zero.
Tuesday afternoon/evening's threat for severe storms west of I-65 slides eastward into the overnight and early Wednesday morning hours. Instability values will continue to fall into the night, lessening the severe weather threat further. A line of thunderstorms along the cold front will pose a risk for strong winds and perhaps a brief spinup tornado. Storms ahead of the line that manage to ignite would also pose a tornado threat. But this threat remains low...which is the point I really want to hammer home here. Our severe weather threat in general Tuesday afternoon-Wednesday morning appears low-end. Wouldn't surprise me if our counties get put under a Tornado Watch. It's possible we deal with a few Warnings. But this is not a significant severe weather setup by any stretch.
So to summarize:
Tuesday afternoon-evening: A few severe storms possible mainly across west Alabama west of I-65. These could be capable of damaging winds and tornadoes.
Overnight: The severe weather threat decreases, but storms still pose a risk for strong winds or a brief tornado eastward into central & south Alabama.
Wednesday morning: Storms weaken further with only a very low-end risk for severe weather mainly into east Alabama.
HEAVY RAIN: An element that I'm becoming increasingly concerned about will be the flooding potential with this system. Trends have slowed the passage of the frontal boundary down some. This will allow for a more extended duration of heavy rain to fall across parts of the area. Upper level flow parallel to the frontal boundary will result in storms training over the same areas.
I can envision a general 1-3" of rain falling with this system. Flash Flood guidance suggests we'd need 3.5-4" of rain within a 6 hour period to generate flash flooding concerns. I am hopeful we'll stay just shy of that much rain in that short a period, but this is something that bears watching where heavier cells train. No Flood Watches of any kind are currently in effect. But we'll have to see where trends take us as we certainly don't need any more water.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: This is another Alabama special...a severe weather threat that takes us into the overnight timeframe when you're asleep. A quick checkup of those weather radios will be in order. You can text your county name to 41212 to receive text alerts. There's no shortage of ways to hear possible Warnings. You just need to make sure you're covered.
AFTER THE STORM: Rain gradually tapers off from west to east Wednesday as cooler air settles in.
Temperatures will fall back into seasonable territory late week as sunshine returns. Overnight lows around freezing are expected late week.