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Monday, July 30, 2012

Slight Risk of Severe Weather Today

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK has placed much of West and SW Alabama under a "Slight Risk" of Severe Weather today. As of right now, the best timing of severe weather will be from noon through 8pm this evening, with 4pm or later being the greatest chance. A Northwesterly Flow in place has us set up for some rather active weather over the next couple of days, as the SPC has also placed us under Slight Risk for Tomorrow as well. That could change, but we'll have to wait until today's storms clear out.

CURRENT OBSERVATIONS (AS OF 1009)
TEMP: 85*F
MOSTLY CLOUDY, HUMID.
WINDS: CALM
DEWPOINT: 71*

A GROUP OF SHOWERS/STORMS ARE CURRENTLY MAKING THEIR WAY SOUTHEASTWARD FROM FAYETTE AND REFORM/MILLPORT. LIGHTNING HAS BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH THESE STORMS; HOWEVER, NEITHER STORM BARES ANY FORM OF WARNING OR ADVISORY. THESE STORMS ARE THE FIRST ROUND, WHILE MORE ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP LATER IN THE DAY. THE MAIN THREAT FOR SEVERE WEATHER THIS AFTERNOON WILL BE DAMAGING WINDS. WE CANNOT RULE OUT THE SLIGHTEST CHANCE OF A TORNADO; HOWEVER, ODDS ARE NOT GREAT FOR TORNADIC SUPERCELLS. MAKE SURE THAT YOU WILL HAVE ACCESS TO WEATHER INFORMATION THROUGHOUT THE DAY, EVEN IF YOU LOSE POWER. IF A STORM DEVELOPS NEAR YOU, REMAIN INDOORS UNTIL THE STORM PASSES. LIGHTNING KILLS.

We will be monitoring the weather throughout the day today, and will be bringing you updates on our Twitter as information becomes available. Again, not a big time severe weather day, but definitely worth paying attention to. If you happen to get any cool pictures or video, please feel free to Tweet them to us, tag us on Facebook, or email us at bamauams@gmail.com!

Stay safe!

PAR

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ready for a crap shoot? (Severe Weather 5/31/12)

After reviewing models, and discussing with other chasers and meteorologists.... we have decided that tomorrow is a crap shoot for tornadoes in the Southeast. As it stands, it appears that the main threat will be a squall line that will form tomorrow afternoon and push eastward. With a squall line comes damaging winds and potential for hail. If the squall line does not make its way to West Alabama prior to sunset, it will lose a lot of its strength, thus decreasing tornado possibilities even greater. We cannot with 100% certainty rule out spinup tornadoes, so we will have to keep an eye out for those. The danger in spinups is that often they are extremely short lived with minimal damage and can go undetected by radar... that is why the National Weather Service will issue tornado warnings sometimes when they notice cells or signs of rotation within the line (you can identify these types of warnings by listening to or reading the warning text... it will go a long the lines of "At 4:07PM National Weather Service radar indicated a storm capable of producing a tornado..."). This is why trained storm spotters are important. We essentially are the eyes and ears of the NWS in the field and report conditions and information back to the NWS. Just because a tornado warning is issued based on radar indication does not mean that a tornado is on the ground or will form... ***HOWEVER*** A WARNING SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUS REGARDLESS OF ITS NATURE.

THE RUNDOWN
Be weather aware throughout the day tomorrow. This will not be a catastrophic event, but whenever someone loses a loved one or a property is damaged it becomes catastrophic to those effected by it. As I have preached before (and Mother Nature continues to reinforce) weather patterns are ever changing. Tonight what looks like what could be a decently robust storm system set to come through tomorrow, by morning could turn out to be nothing but a simple rain event tomorrow. That fact is the only constant in weather.

WHAT CAN I DO TO BE PREPARED?
Check the batteries in your electronics in your emergency kit.
Ensure that your weather radio and phone are charged.
Find a way to get reliable weather information... especially if power is lost.
Make sure that you AND your loved ones know where to go if you receive a warning.
Do you have enough water/Gatorade/food in your emergency kit?
Do you have your medications ready to go to take with you?

WHAT ARE YOU "DUMB COLLEGE KIDS" DOING?
The same thing we always do when severe weather threatens our area... Preparing. We are prepared to launch our Storm Chasing Division at a moment's notice tomorrow. Right now it appears that we will be making a run to two potential base areas: Central Mississippi or Western Tennessee. Just because we are going to these areas does not mean that West AL is out of the woods. If we believe that Tuscaloosa or West AL is a viable threat, we'll be here. Our loyalty lies here. We were graciously trained by the Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management Agency and are members of their Community Emergency Response Team as well as graduate certified Storm Spotters through the National Weather Service out of Birmingham. We have built relationships with local meteorologists and some at NWS BMX, we are here to serve you.

Follow our Storm Chasers on Twitter (@ALStormChasers) for updates on where we are and what's going on. ***We will NOT be streaming our chase tomorrow on the live feed. We had a few technical difficulties the last trip out, and tomorrow isn't an overwhelming threat.

If you're in Tuscaloosa or on the University of Alabama Campus... follow our group on Twitter (@UA_Weather). When school is in session, we post daily weather forecasts and always post pertinent information for Tuscaloosa residents throughout the year.


Won't be getting much sleep tonight as I'm watching the system out west for family members and trying to get a handle on what in the world is going to happen here tomorrow.

Eyes on the Sky!

PAR


Severe Weather Threat for Alabama Thursday 5/31 and Friday 6/1

We made it through the entire month of April without a single tornado warning statewide, May was relatively quiet, but it appears that could end in the next 24-48 hours.

Much of East Central Alabama finds itself withing a 10% chance of severe weather within 25 miles of any given point, and NW Alabama is within a 30% chance. NWS has a slight risk for our area, and our Storm Chasing Division director believes that may increase to a moderate risk.

Here's the Rundown:

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
Potential for damaging straight line winds, hail, and a small spinup tornado cannot be ruled out.

Tuscaloosa's main threats will be from damaging winds, hail, and localized flash flooding from heavy rains.

Pickens, Fayette, Walker, Lamar Counties are within the 30% hatched area, so we will have to keep an eye out in these areas.



TIMING
In our area, we believe this could be a later evening Thursday going into Friday event, over by noontime Friday.


There's still a lot of uncertainty as to specifics just yet, but we will be having our Storm Chasing Division briefing tonight to go over models and plan our course. TODAY IS THE DAY TO PLAN AND ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE A PLAN OF ACTION IF SEVERE WEATHER STRIKES! I will bring you an update tonight with more specifics.

Sub Divo!

PAR

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What to Expect Tomorrow... (4/4/12)

Several people have been asking me what to expect tomorrow(Wednesday) in West Alabama, given the recent destruction in Dallas/Ft. Worth and other areas of Texas. Unfortunately, tomorrow is going to be a "wait and see" kind of day. A lot of factors will play into whether or not severe weather has the necessary ingredients to form in West Alabama.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED:
1. Instability- It needs to rain a good bit this afternoon, followed by the sun coming out to heat the ground. This will feed the instability, which ultimately feeds the storms.
2. Moisture- Typically in a healthy storm system the Gulf of Mexico will cycle in moisture into our area.
3. Shear- Commonly noticed as wind. But there are more things that play into shear than just wind. Low level shear, upper atmosphere shear, etc.
4. Lifting- Tornadoes require lifting mechanisms to take the low level (ground level) winds up into the atmosphere.

Now, that being said, you don't need ALL of those ingredients present to have a tornado, but the more you have, the healthier the storm.

As far as tomorrow goes, I do NOT foresee most of those key players involved in West Alabama tomorrow. The moisture will be here, the instability will be rather marginal at best, shear won't be too impressive, and lifting will be limited if not nonexistent. SO, yes, you can expect scattered strong to severe thunderstorms in and around West Alabama tomorrow afternoon/evening/ and in the overnight hours going into Thursday, BUT, the chance for tornadoes will be low. Does that mean that tornadoes will not happen? Absolutely not. As I mentioned, Wednesday will be a "wait and see" day.

Often times people will dismiss Severe Thunderstorm Warnings as unimportant and not dangerous, but that in itself is a dangerous habit. Severe Thunderstorms carry wind and hail capable of causing damage to structures, and even short lived tornadoes that may go undetected on radar, thus lacking a Tornado Warning. Please take these warnings and watches serious.

TORNADO/SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH
This means conditions are favorable for the development of Tornadoes/Severe Thunderstorms. Prepare to seek shelter and go into your emergency action plan.

TORNADO/SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
This means that areas listed within the warning are considered to be in imminent danger from a storm that has either been confirmed on the ground or is showing signs of rotation capable of producing a tornado/ OR wind speeds and hail has been reported or is believed to be occurring with this storm warranting a SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING. Both should be taken seriously. When you receive the warning, be sure to head to a small, interior room on the lowest floor of your home/building away from any windows. Make sure you have your phone and a radio to receive emergency weather information. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR SHELTER UNTIL YOU HERE THE ALL CLEAR OVER THE RADIO.

Even though tomorrow's chances for severe weather are marginal, you should keep an eye on the weather all day. Follow us on Twitter or go like our Facebook  page to receive updates. The time to prepare is NOW, not when severe weather threatens.

Some of our Storm Chasers will be heading West towards the Mississippi River Delta to ride the storms into Alabama. We will be bringing you updates from the field. Our Storm Chaser Twitter account can be found here.


Godspeed.
PAR

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spring Break Operations

We will be neglecting our Twitter and Blog during Spring Break. We will post one last Tweet Forecast tonight at 9pm, and will resume normal operations on Sunday March 18th. If for some unforeseen reason severe weather threatens Tuscaloosa/West Alabama, we will post updates until the event is over. I know a lot of you are heading home or to the beach, a handful of us will be in Tuscaloosa all break to keep an eye out, but please be safe in your travels and enjoy your break!

It's looking like it could be a wet next couple of days, so please exercise caution during travel.

Have a great SB2012!
PAR

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why You Should Be Weather Aware...

While we were heading to Florence, AL yesterday, I was updating our Twitter and checking Radar and STP readings when I noticed a Tweet from a student that went a long the lines of "They say lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice, so Tornadoes don't either right?". Wrong. I do NOT say this to insult her intelligence, so please do not mistake my intentions here. Nowhere in the science of meteorology does it say, "Tornadoes will not strike in the same location twice". For example, a family in Harvest, AL (North of Huntsville) lost their home... again... yesterday, not even a year after the devastating EF-5 that claimed their first home on April 27, 2011. Another interesting Tweet that definitely perturbed me the night before yesterday was one from @UA_Lately to the tune of "EF-5's are gonna hit Tuscaloosa!!! FYI 4/27 was a EF-4..". I appreciate her candor for keeping students/her followers informed BUT you have GOT to be careful as to how you word things. Most everyone knows the EMA tests tornado sirens at noon the first Wednesday of every month, and I cannot tell you how many times I get on our Twitter/Facebook and see comments from everyone about how they are physically struck with fear by the sirens, even though it's a test. SO... it's ok to pass on weather information to friends, family, and strangers, but please go about it carefully. The last thing we need is for chaos to ensue. Yes, the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK boosted their confidence for the potential of tornadoes to form in and around West Alabama... BUT IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. That's weather. That's the fight that we, along with every meteorologist in the field, take on every time severe weather is a possibility. We want you to be informed, but at the same time we don't want to cause chaos OR apathy. It's synonymous with the old parable of the boy who cried wolf... You do it too many times, and people will cease to believe you.  Please, do not lose faith in us as we are staring down the barrel of what COULD be one of the more active severe weather seasons in many years for  the Southeast. Again, I'm not trying to cause fear, weather is a GOOD thing. Lightning cleans the air and rain renews the soil. This is weather. This is life. This we cannot change. But we can act. We can be prepared. We can minimize the impact severe weather has on our community. I cannot tell you how fortunate West Alabama, specifically Tuscaloosa, was yesterday. We dodged major bullets, while our neighbors to the north were not as fortunate. The blessing behind yesterday's system was that it came during the day when 95% of people are awake and vigilant versus night time storms when most are asleep and not monitoring the weather.

Here are some interesting facts pertaining to how people are beginning to prepare:
-Hueytown's Wal Mart sold out of bicycle helmets yesterday.
-Best Buy in Tuscaloosa sold out of NOAA weather radios yesterday.
-People across the state took to the airwaves monitoring the weather via TV, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
-Our Twitter followers have SKYROCKETED over the past week or two.

The time to prepare is NOW. What are you doing to ensure your safety if severe weather threatens our area? 

Ways you can prepare:
1. Follow our Twitter.
2. Like us on Facebook. (If you don't have a Twitter account, our Facebook page is linked to our Twitter and posts our Twitter updates as they're posted on Twitter.)
3. Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio (and install batteries in case the power goes out)!!!!! Most important way to get weather information. You can find them at Wal Mart, Best Buy, Rite Aid, Publix, etc. If you buy one, email us and we will program it for you so you only receive updates for our area.
4. Purchase the Weather Radio app for your iPhone or Droid
5. Have a Severe Weather Safety plan in place. Know where to go and what to do when you receive the warning. (Lowest floor, most interior bathroom or closet away from windows and exterior doors)
6. Put together a Severe Weather Safety kit. Flashlights, batteries, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), First-Aid supplies, medical information, prescription medications, emergency contact info, etc. If you have children, let them help you put this kit together. It'll be fun for the whole family, and will also instill the importance of preparation within them. Don't discount the knowledge and understanding of a child.
7. Make sure everyone in the household knows the plan and where the kit is located.

Fortunately, the week ahead is showing no signs of severe weather. So we're catching a breather, BUT prepare for what the rest of the season has to hold.The entire month of March 2011 had 75 tornado reports in Alabama, so far in March 2012 we have had over 100... and it's only the 3rd day of the month.

I love the great state of Alabama. You will NEVER find people more resilient, benevolent and down right kind, anywhere on the face this earth. We're going to get through this severe weather season like we have every one before this one. Prepare today for tomorrow.

God Bless.
PAR

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Preparing for Friday (SEVERE WEATHER COMING 3/2)

Spring Severe Weather season in Dixie Alley is upon us. The first real outbreak for our area will roll in tomorrow. Here's what we think:

FRIDAY (3/2)


WHAT TO EXPECT
Mother nature appears to be throwing all cards on the table tomorrow. The STP (significant tornado parameter) looks very impressive for our area suggesting that tornadoes will more than likely be present tomorrow. Not to mention hail, damaging winds, lightning, downpours that will cause flooding... You name it. The term outbreak as well as "long track/significant tornadoes"... Any time the National Weather Service mentions those two words, especially in the same breath, you better take it seriously.
Below is a graphic of the threat levels for each aspect of the event tomorrow:



TIMING
Our severe weather threat will begin noon and will last into the early morning hours Saturday. The main tornado threat will last from noon until 10pm Friday night, with a squall line falling in behind the front cells with its timing rolling in here around 10pm and lasting until 3am Saturday. Of course, once the squall line passes through Tuscaloosa, our severe weather threat will be over, as the front passes through.

PREPARATION
You will need to be prepared for tomorrow evening, no doubt in my mind. Here are some ways to prepare:
1. Make sure you have a way to receive weather information at all hours of the night!!! Follow us on Twitter. We update our Twitter in the field as soon as watches/warnings come out, or we notice updates that need to be made. Sign up for SAF-T-Net. This program is totally free, and is very good. I speak from experience.
2. Have a flashlight ready!
3. Know where your safe place is should we go Tornado warned (Lowest floor, away from exterior walls and doors and windows, preferably a bathroom). Talk to your RA if you have any questions.
4. Make sure your cell phone is charged. That is how many of you receive your information.

 OTHER NOTES
We will obviously be out in the field all day tomorrow and all night bringing you up-to-date information as it occurs. If you would like to watch our chase, please go here. Once we go online, you'll be able to see exactly what we see. We will go live as soon as weather begins to threaten the area. ***We did have some issues with streaming last night while we were testing it, but hopefully we have the kinks worked out.


Hang in there, we're gonna get through tomorrow together!
PAR