By Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Alabama Emergency Management Agency
CLANTON – Tuesday, 3:00 pm January 24, 2023
…High Wind Warning for Choctaw, Clarke, Washington, Mobile, and Baldwin counties…
…Wind Advisories for rest of state…
There are no major changes to this morning’s forecast. As surface low pressure moves from TX into MS by early evening, non-thunderstorm winds will be on the dramatic increase. After 6 pm and across much of the state, sustained wind of 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph will occur. In south Alabama, and especially across Choctaw, Clarke, Washington, Mobile, and Baldwin counties, sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 55 mph are expected. This will likely down trees and cause minor damage to weak structures.
To put this in perspective, NWS criteria for a Severe Thunderstorm Warning begins at 58 mph, so the expected gusts today are significant! It is like this will down some trees and cause minor damage to weak structures. Unless absolutely necessary, it would be best to stay off the roads after dark in south Alabama in case downed trees have fallen across roadways that you won’t see until it is too late.
Then, either a solid or broken line of thunderstorms will move into the state late this evening. Forecast thinking has not changed with the highest instability occurring south of a Hwy 80 – I-85 line or south of a Livingston – Montgomery – Auburn line. In this region, supercell development, both as potential individual cells ahead of and within a line of storms are expected to develop. Straight-line damaging winds and tornadoes will all be possible, including EF2 or greater in intensity, especially in the Enhanced Risk (orange shaded) region.
Due to how strong winds are aloft and how fast the line will move across the state, some of these winds will be transported to the surface with the potential for significant, widespread straight-line wind damage in addition to the tornado threat.
Because little to no instability will occur between Hwy 80 – I-85 and I-20, widespread straight-line wind gusts of 40-50 mph could occur, but severe winds near or above 60 mph are not expected. The good news is that there is no tornado threat in this region.
Winds will remain fairly strong and gusty into Wednesday afternoon. A few showers are possible across the northern half of the state and even snow showers could occur north of I-20 between 12 am and 8 pm Thursday. However, no accumulations nor impacts are forecast.
Since severe weather will occur at night, it is VERY IMPORTANT you have at least two methods to receive severe weather warnings that will wake you up, one of which does NOT include an outdoor warning siren.
NOAA Weather Radio, making sure Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) for your cell phone is turned “on”, and other Apps from a trusted source are all options. Why two methods? First, outdoor warning sirens are meant for people outdoors, and they can fail. Second, any other source can fail at times for a variety of reasons. Don’t let a single point of failure make you miss a life-saving warning!
As we just experienced a severe weather/tornado outbreak on January 12th, you know severe storms occur during the winter months and will continue into May. If you have never developed a severe weather plan or haven’t reviewed your current one in some time, go to Severe Weather | Ready.gov . Trying to figure out what to do in a middle of a warning is a recipe for disaster.