Worry-Free Warmth: a February warm-up doesn’t always mean big storms!

There’s a natural feeling of uneasiness when the weather turns very warm in February; there’s a good reason for it, too. Those days are when the Spring tornado season can get an early start!

We’ve had a lot of examples of the nasty that February can bring; here are a few memorable ones:

EF-4 tornadoes in Pisgah and Speake in 2008
Arab-Joppa EF-3 in 1995
Fort Payne tornado in 2014

In the NWS Huntsville County Warning Area, we had 36 February tornadoes from 1950 to 2016. There were no February tornadoes in the past two years (’17 and ’18), but it’s enough to keep your head in the game this time of year (especially with some of those examples above).

NWS Huntsville

This round of warm weather is looking worry-free for North Alabama, though. The primary storm track stays north of us keeping the ‘stormy’ weather away and allowing for near-record warmth for Wednesday and Thursday.

In fact, Thursday’s record high is 73ºF (1999). We’re projecting 74ºF that afternoon provided we get some sunshine! So don’t fear the warm-up; enjoy it while it lasts!

Cooling down for the weekend: A strong cold front moves into the region Thursday evening; rain is ‘likely’ Thursday night into Friday morning, and then it will turn sharply colder.

Computer model guidance suggests temperatures as cold as 30s/40s for highs on Saturday and Sunday; however, given this season’s trend for Arctic air to have a tough time getting in and given the expected upper-air pattern, that seems a bit too low. We’ll keep it cool and dry on Saturday and chilly, cloudy and occasionally wet on Sunday.

Is Winter over? The short answer is no. The long answer is ‘it’s complicated.’ Very few long-range ideas have panned out well this season; that’s no secret. Some large-scale signals do indicate a turn toward ‘colder’ weather after Valentine’s Day (maybe closer to the last week of February), but the guidance we use to help trend the forecast that far doesn’t seem to notice. The good news? We’ve got plenty of time to watch for cold snaps or anything else; as of now, there’s nothing obviously ‘wintry’ on the horizon.

Looking for the forecast? It’s always online at WHNT.com/Weather and in the “Daily Forecast” section on Live Alert 19!

-Jason
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