Potential Tornado Outbreak Today into Early Friday

By Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Alabama Emergency Management Agency

CLANTON –Thursday 8 am March 25, 2021

Through 11 am, a couple of wind gusts from 40-60 mph and a tornado are possible north of I20 in thunderstorms along a northward moving warm front.  However, the overall severe potential is low.

After 11 am, anywhere in the High and Moderate Risk areas, individual or small clusters of supercell thunderstorms are forecast to form.  Farther south and east or generally south of a Talladega – Montgomery – Butler line, a capping inversion will act as a lid on thunderstorm development.   However, if any strong updrafts can break this cap, they too will quickly become severe.

A broken line of supercell thunderstorms will enter northwest Alabama after 4 pm, reaching a Fort Payne – Birmingham – Butler line between 8 pm and 12 am, and a Roanoke – Montgomery – Chatom line between 12 am and 3 am.  This line will also have the potential to have embedded tornadoes as well as widespread straight-line wind damage.

Don’t get hung up on the exact Risk areas.  What these areas are saying is:

1) The highest chance and coverage of individual supercells, long-tracked EF2 or greater tornadoes, straight-line winds in excess of 70 mph and very large hail will be in the High and Moderate Risk areas. 

2) This same potential described above also exists in the Enhanced and Slight Risk areas, but with less coverage.  However, potentially devastating impacts still exist in these risk areas.

3) As the line progresses into the Slight and Marginal Risk areas, weakening will occur.  There could still be straight-line wind damage and a couple of tornadoes, but severe weather coverage will be less than the Enhanced Risk region.

Statewide winds outside of thunderstorm activity from 11 am through 12 am Friday will be 10-20 mph with gusts as high as 40 mph.  This could down tree limbs and weakened trees due to saturated soil conditions. Sporadic power outages could occur.

Heavy rain of 1-3 inches with some spots receiving higher amounts will occur by Friday morning north of I20.  This could produce localized flash flooding.

There could be a couple of severe storms in the southeast sections of the state Friday morning and the northwest sections of the state pre-dawn Saturday morning, but confidence is low in either area.

Finally, another system and approaching cold front on Saturday evening into early Sunday could result in a couple of severe storms north of I59 in the form of straight-line wind gusts and hail. In addition, another 1-2 inches of rain is forecast producing flash flooding. 

When a warning is issued, if you can safely get to a sturdy building, then do so immediately.

  • Go to a safe room, basement, or storm cellar.
  • If you are in a building with no basement, then get to a small interior room on the lowest level.
  • Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location.
  • Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death. Use your arms to protect your head and neck. You need helmets for everyone, including adults, as many injuries and deaths in severe weather occur as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.
  • If you live in a mobile/manufactured home, do not stay in it when a warning is issued for your area, instead opting for a more secure shelter.  To find out if community shelters exist for your area, contact your county Emergency Management Agency to determine where they are located and when they are open.

What is critical is for you to have at least two methods to receive severe weather information 24 hours a day, which does NOT include an outdoor warning siren.  You should make sure whatever method you use can wake you up with an alarm, like a weather radio programmed for the county you live in.

Finally, for additional information on what to do during and after a storm hits your area, go to https://www.ready.gov/tornadoes

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