Good Morning! This is a good day to stay weather aware. We’ll be monitoring a line of storms through much of the day, from the morning, in the western counties through mid-afternoon, at least, in the southeastern counties. A few of the storms could be severe. I can’t rule out an isolated tornado or two. On this video, we’ll look at the details, and the time line. And, we’ll look ahead. Looks another front arrives on Friday. It’s an active pattern, with up to 4 fronts in the next seven days. Hope you have a chance to watch the video.
The Storm Prediction Center has a “Marginal” Severe Risk covering most of our area for today. Greatest risk window is from about 9AM in the west counties until about 2PM in southeast Alabama. Damaging wind gusts are possible and a brief tornado or two can’t be ruled out.
We’ll be monitoring a line of strong/severe storms crossing the state. Here’s one model’s idea on the possible time line. This may be an hour too quick…but this is just a general idea on how this could unfold.
The front reaches central Alabama at Noon. High today around 70 around lunchtime, then windy and much cooler after the frontal passage, falling to the upper 30’s tonight.
Wednesday and Thursday will be quiet. Another front Friday and yet another one perhaps Sunday.
74 years ago today, a powerful F3 tornado devastated a large part of Montgomery, killing 26 and injuring at least 300. It‘s Montgomery’s biggest weather disaster. It was a Monday afternoon, February 12, 1945, 5:18pm, about 10 minutes before sunset. 73 degrees. The storm struck without warning. There were no warnings in 1945. Damage was extensive. Several neighborhoods were affected, from the western part of the city, from around Day and Bell St., and skirting across the northern part of Montgomery. The epicenter of the worst damage was the Chisolm community, where 35 homes were destroyed, at least a couple of dozen more heavily damaged. The greatest loss of life was here. It was one of 7 significant tornadoes in Alabama that day, killing close to 4 dozen people.
THE SET-UP: The morning weather map from the U.S. Weather Bureau shows, powerful low pressure developing along the Texas coast moving northeastward. Upper Air observations were not available yet. We can only imagine what severe weather ingredients had to be available that day. Probably, if it happened today, it would be a “high risk threat.” Showers had occurred off and on during the day in Montgomery. Official rainfall was .67 with a high of 73. In those days, observations were taken at Gunter Air Field which was the Montgomery public airport at the time.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER: We have a few snapshots from the front page of the Montgomery Advertiser that following Tuesday morning, including some damage pictures. Keep in mind, with the tornado occurring at 5:18PM, the newspaper had to do a lot of work to get the information in the morning paper. Thanks to Steve Arnold and his crew at the Advertiser for searching the archives. A quote from the paper that morning, 72 years ago: “We saw it coming and lay down behind a bush about 50 yards from the house.” Judge Carter related. “The storm swooped in, ripped the roof off showered bricks and boards all around us. It seemed like two or three minutes and then it was over.”
Here’s an aerial shot of the devastation the following day.
A member of our group, Tracey Stallings, just sent in this picture from her family’s archives of the damage that day. This is in Highland Park. Man pictured is Gordon Herring. Picture taken by E.Z. Herring (below)
Associated Press Story: Here is an Associated Press account of the Tornado. Remember, the year is 1945. The reporting is very politically incorrect on the reporting of the fatalities, but that’s the way things were in that day and age.
“Montgomery alone counted its dead at 26, and its injured at nearly 300. Two government warehouses were leveled. In Chisholm, a cotton mill community, 35 homes were demolished and many others damaged in a 20-block area. Worst hit was a crescent shaped area on the southern and western outskirts of Montgomery, Ala., where more than 50 boxcars of a freight train were ripped and tossed about like match boxes.
After a tour of the Montgomery area Gov. CHAUNCEY SPARKS of Alabama ordered three companies of the State Guard into action to prevent looting.
Montgomery hospitals, jammed with the injured, were handicapped by a lack of lighting. The entire capital city was without electricity for several hours. Telephone service was disrupted.
A baby was born at one hospital only a few minutes before the lights came back on.
One of the Montgomery dead was MRS. EDGAR BROWN, a resident of the Chisholm community, whose husband had just arrived home on a furlough from the Army.
Maxwell Field at Montgomery escaped damage but was plunged into darkness for several hours.
The State Guard distributed cots at vacant buildings to provide temporary shelter.
Fifteen of the Montgomery dead were Negroes. State patrolmen removed the bodies of six Negroes from one house.
The Montgomery storm, which came on the heels of a day long downpour of rain, struck first in the area of the Army’s huge holding and reconsignment point and leveled two of the six warehouses there.
It sliced a path of destruction through the western edge of the city and hit with new fury at Chisholm, near Kilby Prison.
As news of the tornado spread to the city, curious and anxious residents flocked to the scene by the thousands and traffic congestion blocked the roads at some places.
Law enforcement officers and military police from Maxwell and Gunter Fields, however, soon cleared the streets.
Gas escaping from broken mains threatened further devastation but no serious fires were reported.
Cadets from the two air bases were pressed into service to help clear away the debris and the Red Cross, Salvation Army and civilian defense agencies helped care for the injured and homeless.”
SWARM OF TORNADOES: 7 significant tornadoes touched down that day across Alabama, F2 and stronger, mostly from 4:30 to 10PM. Even one F4 in Sumter county that killed 11 around Livingston.
TORNADO DATA BASE: If you like detailed data, including times and tornado lengths and widths, here is the official Tornado Data Base from that day.
The 1945 Montgomery tornado was by far the strongest and deadliest tornado in the recorded history of this city. The only other that compares in more recent history would be the F3 tornado that moved across north Alabama on May 3, 1984, killing 5 and injuring 37.
Good Morning! We have a very active weather week ahead with two systems on the menu. The first front moves through the state early tomorrow with a line of showers and storms. Will the storm be severe? I have an update from the Storm Prediction Center. And, another frontal system will affect us before this week is over. Will that storm system bring a round of strong storms to the state? Maybe… We’ll look ahead to the next weekend, and we’re always looking ahead to see if there’s any arctic air on the distant horizon. I’ll run it all down in a couple of minutes on your Monday morning weather briefing.
Frontal system in Oklahoma will become a big player by tomorrow morning. Today, a disturbance running well ahead of the front will bring s chance of showers by this afternoon. Breezy by tonight.
For now, the Storm Prediction Center has backed off on the Severe Weather Threat for Tuesday. Still though, there will be a tiny window for a “non-zero” severe threat by mid-day.
Band of rain reaches central Alabama during morning rush hour tomorrow. By mid-day some stronger storms need to be monitored from central through south Alabama on Tuesday.
Rain and thunderstorms tomorrow. Then, a nice, but cooler day Wednesday. Rain chances increase again by Thursday night into Friday. There could be some thunderstorms, too. Saturday looks nice, but cool..
Another storm system (frontal system) affects the area by Friday. Could some of the storms be strong or severe? Too early to say, right now. There will be some marginal instability.
It’s a quiet forecast on this Sunday. A “cool wedge” will make some counties colder than others. For instance: Today’s high in Atlanta will reach 36 while Troy could reach 66. More about today’s cool wedge below. But, what has my attention, are two storm systems we’ll be dealing with this week. There is at least a potential severe threat from the Tuesday system, and perhaps a more substantial severe threat from the Friday system. Both have my attention.
TODAY: Mostly cloudy. High temperatures will vary widely depending on where you live. Look at the high temperature map below. Some towns in Lee county will struggle to reach 50. Over the border in Georgia, only 30’s and 40’s are expected. I think Montgomery will get to about 58 (on the edge of the “cool wedge”) But, If you live in Camden, Greenville or Troy, you’re more likely to see the 60’s today. Low tonight, upper 40’s for most.
Should be mainly dry for most of us with rain chance 20% or less. Still, though, Future Radar depicts some Isolated showers this afternoon.
WEEK AHEAD – SEVERE WEATHER RISK?: I think there will be a brief window of severe weather potential with this Tuesday storm system. The threat will begin in the early morning hours before dawn in the western counties through mid-morning across the southeastern counties, as a line of thunderstorms sweeps through. This appears to be what I would call a “non-zero tornado threat”. Tiny, but worth mentioning.
The second storm system on Friday, has the potential to be a bigger deal. This way out there on Day 6, some I won’t over speculate. However, early model indications indicate plenty of the ingredients of severe weather will be present – including instability or CAPE, and direction shear with altitude or “spin” for tornadoes. It’s early, but keep in mind, we’ll need to zero in on this threat as we get closer to Friday. ‘Tis certainly the season.
NEXT FEW DAYS: Low 70’s Monday with scattered showers possible. Showers and storms late Monday night in through mid day Tuesday. The high of 68 will be in the morning. Then falling. Upper 30’s Wednesday morning, but a nice day. The second storm system arrives late week, with all eyes on Friday in particular.
I’ll have a complete video update Monday morning at 4:45AM. Have a great Sunday!
There are a few new wrinkles in the weekend forecast, but the bottom line remains unchanged. Clouds will dominate most of the time. It will be rather cool to chilly at times. Sunday’s forecast will be complicated by a “Cool Wedge” affecting the eastern counties. The high temperature forecast Sunday will vary widely, depending on where you live. Showers and storms will increase early next week, as an important front approaches.
Interesting set up this morning. A weak front is stretched across north Alabama. Do you see that precipitation on the radar? Early this morning there’s a A slight chance of snow, freezing rain, and sleet, mostly before 8am along the I-20/I-59 corridor. But, it’s very light and minor. No travel problems are anticipated. Much of the precipitation is not reaching the ground.
TODAY: Mostly cloudy and cool. High 57. North wind 10-15 mph today. Winds could gust to 20 overnight tonight. Overnight low 42.
TRICKY SUNDAY FORECAST: Sunday will be a cloudy day. There could be a little drizzle or light showers. Temperatures will be tricky. A “cool wedge” will allow some chilly air to sneak into the eastern counties. Sunday’s high will range from, perhaps the mid 40’s at Lake Martin and Auburn to as warm as 60 or above in Troy and Greenville. I’ve got Montgomery’s high in the lower 50’s.
NEXT FEW DAYS: Monday will be a little warmer, as the “wedge” breaks down. High near 70. Scattered showers are possible. Better rain chances begin late Monday night in Tuesday as showers and thunderstorms become likely. Wednesday should be dry and cooler. Showers return Thursday.
We’ll monitor the situation late Monday night into Tuesday for the potential of severe weather. It’s hardly worth mentioning, but there could be a brief severe weather window, with a “non-zero tornado threat”. We’ll take a closer look as we get closer. Here’s the Severe Risk Map for Monday, through 6am Tuesday.
I’ll have another blog update on Sunday morning, early. Have a nice weekend!