By Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Alabama Emergency Management Agency
CLANTON – The areas shaded in blue are where the National Weather Service offices have issued winter weather advisories that begin on 3 am Friday, and last until noon in southwest AL, and until 6 pm in east AL.
The good news is that surface temperatures on Friday will remain above freezing. As I explained in yesterday’s blog, the upper levels of the atmosphere are very cold, and thus snow or a snow/rain mixture will occur, even though the surface temperatures are above freezing.
Thus, any accumulations will be driven by snowfall rates that are higher than the melting rates at the surface. This “could” lead to slushy roadways for several hours if the snowfall is heavy enough, before total melting occurs.
For those that remember or lived through the January 2014 event, let me make it very clear. Friday’s event is NOT going to be like the 2014 event because in 2014, temperatures were in the upper teens and lower 20s which didn’t allow any of the snow to melt upon contact with roads.
As with all winter events in Alabama, this is a complex forecast with a lot of variables that may and will likely change. Thus, forecast changes are likely over the next 24 hours.
Another concern will be the freezing of water on roadways Friday night/Saturday morning, especially elevated surfaces. Temperatures will drop below freezing along the I-20 corridor around midnight, and by 3 am Saturday all the way to Mobile. Temperatures should go above freezing area wide by late Saturday morning.
Here are some things to consider if you plan to be out and about Friday. The precipitation will start pre-dawn and potentially have some impacts for the morning commute. If you must travel, allow extra time to reach your destination and drive slower.
If at all possible, avoid travel from Friday night through Saturday morning, and thus avoid any icy patches on roads and especially bridges and overpasses. If you must travel, again, allow extra time and drive much slower than normal.
A warming trend will occur by Sunday into the middle of next week, and Friday’s event will quickly become a memory.