Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning. Sign Up

Several southern states at risk for strong storms, tornadoes

By JAMES SPANN, Alabama News Center

A dynamic storm system will bring lots of wind and the threat of severe thunderstorms to Alabama and much of the Deep South Thursday. The main limiting factor continues to be weak instability, but other parameters are very favorable for severe thunderstorms.

The Storm Prediction Center has upgraded parts of north and west Alabama to an enhanced risk (level 3 of 5); this is for areas west of a line from Hypo to Hueytown to Demopolis. There is a slight risk (level 2 of 5) as far east as Weiss Lake, Rockford, Camden and Chatom. The rest of the state (east and south Alabama) is in a marginal risk (level 1 of 5).

TIMING: The window for strong to severe thunderstorms will open up around 2 p.m. over the far western part of the state. In the enhanced risk area the main threat comes from 2 until 8 p.m. For Birmingham, Anniston and Gadsden, the main window will be from 5 until 11 p.m. Strong storms could linger across southeast Alabama well past midnight.

THREATS: Storms Thursday afternoon and night will be capable of producing hail, strong straight-line winds and a few tornadoes. The highest risk of a tornado is in the enhanced risk area across north and west Alabama.

GRADIENT WIND: Non-thunderstorm winds will average 15-30 mph, with gusts to 40 mph in spots during the afternoon and evening. These winds could knock down a few trees and power lines.

RAIN: Amounts around 1 inch are likely; a few spots could see around 1.5 inches. For now significant flooding is not expected.

Events like this are fairly common in February in Alabama; we are in the tornado season (November through May). Be sure you have a reliable way of hearing warnings (never an outdoor siren) and know your safe place. If you live in a mobile home, know where you are going if you fall in a tornado warning polygon, and the quickest way of getting there.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: The sky becomes partly to mostly sunny Friday and the day will be considerably cooler, with a high at or just over 50 degrees. The weekend will feature sunny days with a warming trend; the high will be in the upper 50s Saturday, followed by mid 60s Sunday.

NEXT WEEK: Rain will return to the state Monday, and it looks like we will have some risk of rain daily through at least Wednesday. Temperatures will be mild; highs will likely exceed 70 degrees by Tuesday.

ON THIS DATE IN 1989: A surge of arctic air Feb. 16-17 produced all-time record high barometric pressure readings of 31.08 inches at Duluth, Minnesota, 30.97 inches at Chicago and 30.94 inches at South Bend, Indiana. Readings of 31 inches at Milwaukee and 30.98 inches at Rockford, Illinois, tied their all-time records. Unseasonably warm weather prevailed across the Southeast. Highs of 81 degrees at Athens, Georgia, 87 degrees at Charleston, South Carolina, 85 degrees at Macon, Georgia, and 86 degrees at Savannah, Georgia, were records for February.

ON THIS DATE IN 2001: A derecho (a long-lived and widespread convective wind storm) moved through Alabama. The line of storms reached the western Alabama border around 2 p.m. Around the same time, a section of the squall line began to bulge out, or bow, in Pickens County. Through the next three hours, the derecho would move across the entire width of the state, producing wind gusts approaching 100 mph, and widespread damage similar to an F0 to F1 category tornado. Officially recorded wind gusts include 60 mph at the Tuscaloosa and Anniston/Oxford Airports, and 68 mph at the Birmingham Airport and Gadsden/Etowah County EOC.

BEACH FORECAST: Click here to see the AlabamaWx Beach Forecast Center page.

WEATHER BRAINS: You can listen to our weekly 90-minute show any time on your favorite podcast app. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including the meteorologists at ABC 33/40.

CONNECT: You can find me on the major social networks:


For more weather news and information from James Spann and his team, visit AlabamaWx.

Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Web Development By Infomedia