By Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Alabama Emergency Management Agency
CLANTON –8 am Thursday April 18, 2019
A line of severe storms with the potential of a few supercell thunderstorms ahead of the line west of I65, will enter the western portions of the state as early as mid-afternoon Today. As the line moves toward I-65, north of I-20, the threat will be straight-line winds with a couple of embedded tornadoes.
However, in the gray shaded region in the graphic above, the line will be more cellular with supercells, and a higher tornado potential, including a couple of EF2 or stronger strength. This threat will continue overnight until clearing the southeast sections by sunrise Friday. It should be noted that if the highest unstable air can work its way northward before the storms arrive, the shaded region would also be shifted northward.
It’s important to not just focus on the shaded region. The entire state has a threat of severe weather.
Outside of storms, southerly winds after noon today will gust from 20-30 mph with a few gusts around 35 mph mainly north of I20 and west of I65, and after 8 pm east of I65 and south of I20.
Widespread 1-2 inches of rain is expected, but there will likely be pockets of 3-4 inches. This may temporarily produce flash flooding, especially in urban and poor drainage regions, but widespread flooding is not anticipated.
This is a very strong system and the threat of tornadoes will NOT decrease overnight. As we keep saying, you need to have at least two methods to receive warnings, and if you are indoors, sirens should NOT be one of them. Sirens are meant for people OUTDOORS and depending on which way the wind blows, can only be heard for short distances. You need an INDOOR warning siren, which includes a weather radio.
If you don’t own a weather radio, there’s still time to get one, and I recommend programming it not only for the county you live in but also for surrounding counties to give yourself a buffer. If you own a weather radio, make sure the batteries are less than six months old. Otherwise, if a storm is approaching, your electricity goes out and the battery is dead, you won’t get the warning.
As we saw in Troy over the weekend, where mobile/manufactured homes were heavily damaged with an EF1 tornado (wind speeds around 95 mph), you should consider getting out of them and into a more substantial structure. If you can’t do this within a couple of minutes after a warning is issued, you should make plans to be in a sturdier building well before the storms arrive.