By Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Alabama Emergency Management Agency
CLANTON – Below is the 5 am EDT forecast cone. For clarification, the cone represents where the center of the storm may be, NOT where the actual impacts, like high winds, flooding rains and tornadoes, will occur. Impacts are typically much larger than the forecast cone, and this is certainly true with Irma.
Now, having said that, here’s the latest for Alabama. First off, even if the system gets into the eastern Gulf of Mexico, all forecast models have increasing upper level shear beginning on Sunday, which will aid in reducing the wind speeds in our state. Second, as of right now, all forecast models keep us on the west side of the storm until Tuesday afternoon when it may pass through northeast AL.
Generally 1-3 inches of total rainfall will occur over the eastern 2/3 of AL, with isolated 3+. These amounts will not cause widespread flooding issues.
Beginning Monday morning through Tuesday afternoon, sustained winds of 15-25 mph will occur, with gusts approaching 40 mph for areas near and east I-65, and possibly as high as 55 mph for far east AL. Winds will decrease in both sustained speeds and gusts from south to north from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning.
So, don’t panic! Yes, significant wind gusts are expected which could certainly down some trees and power lines. But the overall impacts will be nothing compared to what FL and GA will encounter. Remain aware of future changes to the forecasts which could change wind and rain forecasts. Just be safe, especially Monday and Tuesday.