The Winter Solstice happened at 10:28 AM ‘officially’ beginning the season, but we don’t expect any wintry or colder weather for another few days! It stays damp and milder-than-normal this evening and tonight: lows in the mid-50s with more patchy, thick fog.
A strong cold front moving southeast on Friday stirs up a lot of rain and some thunderstorms northwest of Alabama; a big-time soaking develops over northern Mississippi and West/Middle Tennessee Friday: as much as five inches of rain come down northwest of the Valley Friday. The rain and storms move into North Alabama late Friday night and Saturday morning; some of the rain may be heavy with gusty winds, but any risk of severe weather seems very low for now.
Friday night and Saturday storms: Earlier this week, it looked like the stormy weather in the Friday-Saturday time frame could get nasty. Now, we see less of a severe weather risk and more of a standard, heavy band of showers and thunderstorms rolling across the region through Saturday morning.
A few storms still could briefly get to severe limits (58 MPH winds, quarter-sized hail, and a very, very slim chance of a tornado); however, it seems rather unlikely that we’ll have truly organized severe storms in North Alabama or Southern Middle Tennessee.
The other factor we’ll have to contend with? Gusty environmental winds ahead of the front causing trees to fall because of the wet, soggy ground. The wind may gust as high as 30 to 40 miles per hour between 9 PM Friday and the time the front passes your location early Saturday.
Timing? While some scattered showers are possible throughout the day Friday into Friday evening, the best chance of rain with this front squarely falls on Saturday morning. Locally-heavy rain and thunderstorms begin in The Shoals between midnight and 3 AM; that band of rain and storms moves on east into Huntsville around sunrise and clears out of Northeast Alabama by 9 AM.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: The forecast for Christmas, if you’re hoping for snow, is, well… ‘as cuddly as a cactus, as charming as an eel. A bad banana with a greasy black peel.’
The snow that was a possibility is now practically a zero chance; such is life in early winter in the South. It will be turning colder, so there’s also zero chance of another record-setting warm Christmas like the past two! Expect highs in the lower to middle 40s both days; we’ll have a hard freeze Christmas morning and only top out around 40ºF in the afternoon.
Don’t look now, but there’s still a chance! Temperatures rebound to near ‘average’ by the middle of the week (50s by day, 30s by night), and then another push of cold air tries to blast in for the end of the week.
If it’s successful, we have another chance at some wintry mix or snow before New Year’s Eve (namely in the Friday-Saturday timeframe). Don’t count on it just yet, but it is a possibility!
Modeling has been terrible lately for long-range ideas; that’s why it’s so important that when you see a graphic like this one that you understand one key thing: models get wild in the long-range this time of year! It’s one of many solutions.
Ensembles are better a trends, but even they can have a lot of wild looks.
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