We’re keeping up with the latest on the winter weather threat for Friday and Friday night here; just before 2:30 PM Wednesday, the first Winter Storm Watch was posted in Tennessee.
Cold is sure, snow is still uncertain: As is often the case (here and even in colder climates), the cold weather blasting south is certain, but the chance of snow is still on shaky ground.
A strong cold front passing by Friday morning brings a fresh surge of cold air: enough to drop temperatures from a high around 53ºF at sunrise to the low-30s in the afternoon. Most of the rain comes ahead of that front, but an intense upper-air disturbance behind the front generates more rain – and some snow and sleet – in the colder air.
There are still questions about precipitation type: rain will change to a mixture first (rain, sleet and potentially some freezing rain) and then to snow as it is tapering off.
There’s also one BIG question about where the accumulating snow/ice will occur. We still anticipate a Northwest Alabama into Middle Tennessee event; however, there is enough ‘wiggle room’ that light accumulations (less than 2”) are possible as far southeast as Interstate 59 in Etowah and DeKalb Counties.
The bottom line: Northwest Alabama (The Shoals, Moulton Russellville), Limestone County, northeast into Tennessee have the best chance of snowfall of around 1 to 3 inches. The chance is lower from Huntsville southeast, but it’s certainly not zero; we won’t ‘know’ until about 12-18 hours ahead of the event.
Here’s how we see it as of today (and yes, there will be adjustments that make or break snowfall accumulations for one town or another – it’s the nature of the beast):
Frigid in the South again: The air moving into Alabama and Tennessee this weekend started over Siberia about 4 days ago, and with the addition of some snow cover, it could make it colder than we’ve been so far this winter. Right now, we’ve adjusted Huntsville’s temperatures to account for a ‘clipper’ (fast-moving low along the arctic boundary) passing Sunday night into Monday. That raises Monday morning’s low to the upper 10s/lower 20s, but the air following that ‘clipper’ could push us as low as the -5ºF to 5ºF range if there’s still some snow on the ground!
How cold? Temperatures may be as much as 20ºF to 25ºF below average (depending on where the snow cover is greatest) on Sunday and Tuesday:
That could mean lows in record-cold territory where snow covers the ground – and as cold if not a degree or two colder than some of the lowest temps we’ve seen so far this season even without snow on the ground.