James Spann: Significant severe weather threat for Alabama Sunday

NICE AFTERNOON: With sunshine in full supply, temperatures are mostly in the mid 70s this afternoon, right at seasonal averages for mid-April in Alabama. Tonight will be fair and cool, with a low between 40 and 45 degrees for most places.

FRIDAY/SATURDAY: Dry weather continues. Friday will be mostly sunny and cooler; the high will be in the mid 60s. Then, with clear sky and light wind, colder spots will dip into the 30s early Saturday morning with potential for some scattered light frost. During the day Saturday, the sky will remain mostly sunny with a high in the 70- to 73-degree range. Clouds will roll in Saturday night.

EASTER SEVERE WEATHER THREAT: Weather parameters are falling into place for potential for a significant severe weather threat for the Deep South, including Alabama, on Sunday. An ejecting short-wave trough is forecast to take on a neutral to somewhat negative tilt by Sunday afternoon as it moves quickly east-northeastward across the Southeast. Rich low-level moisture will be drawn inland from the Gulf of Mexico in advance of a deepening surface low that will move from the mid-Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley by Monday morning.

We expect a very favorable environment for organized convection, including the potential for long-track supercells and a corresponding strong tornado risk. Very strong low- to mid-level flow fields will also support widespread damaging wind potential. For now it looks like the main window for severe storms will come from noon to midnight across the state; we will be much more specific on timing Friday.

The Storm Prediction Center has defined an enhanced risk of severe storms Sunday for the southern half of the state; that likely will be expanded northward on the outlook issued late tonight.

Sunday’s situation is complex when it comes to messaging; we don’t want to create more anxiety (there is enough of that in the world during these times), but at the same time we have to clearly communicate that Sunday could be a significant severe weather day. Don’t be anxious, but be prepared:

  • Have a reliable way of getting warnings. A NOAA Weather Radio is the baseline; be sure Wireless Emergency Alerts on your phone are enabled, and have the free ABC 33/40 app on your phone as well.
  • Know your tornado action plan, and in that safe place have helmets, portable air horns and hard-soled shoes for everyone.
  • If you live in a mobile home, know where you are going and the quickest way of getting there.

NEXT WEEK: The week looks mostly dry, but temperatures should be well below average. I expect multiple mornings with potential for a late-season freeze or frost; growers will need to monitor temperature forecasts closely.

ON THIS DATE IN 1947: An estimated F5 tornado struck Woodward, Oklahoma, during the late evening, killing 95 people and causing $6 million damage. The tornado, one to two miles in width and traveling at a speed of 50 mph, killed 167 people along its 221-mile path from Texas into Kansas, injured 980 others and caused nearly $10 million damage.

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For more weather news and information from James Spann and his team, visit AlabamaWx.

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