The Storm Prediction Center outlines all of north Alabama with the potential for severe weather today.
There are five categories based on statistics. What YOU need to know is that we have a significant threat of severe storms; don’t worry about the colors and numbers.
How Saturday’s threats line up:
We face three primary threats:
- Strong winds (30-50 MPH) that could interrupt utilities and knock down trees/branches
- Severe wind gusts (58 MPH to as high as 100 MPH) that can do damage to homes, buildings, trees, etc.
How are strong winds different from severe storms? An unusually strong pressure gradient force ahead of this storm system enhances the wind. At 2,500′ above the ground, it will be screaming along at close to 60-70 miles per hour. At 5,000′ above the ground, it will be even stronger: around 85 to 95 miles per hour. That kind of wind aloft will be able to generate 50-60 mile per hour wind gusts at ground-level (especially on the mountains), and you won’t need a thunderstorm to do the damage.
The risk of severe storms comes ahead of a cold front that arrives sometime Saturday evening. Those storms will force some of the powerful wind aloft closer to the ground enhancing surface winds to over 70-80 MPH in spots.
Saturday’s timeline is clear now. Storms could start as early as 8 AM near the Alabama/Mississippi state line.
The line of storms then approaches areas around I-65 (generally north-central Alabama) sometime in the late morning and early afternoon.
Storms continue east towards the higher terrain in northeast Alabama between 2-6 pm.
After 6 pm, the storms will enter northwest Georgia, winds will begin to die down across north Alabama, and our severe threat will be over.