Stormy, Wet End to 2015
The last week and a half leading up to the New Year had lots of wild weather in Central Alabama, including widespread flooding and a couple of tornadoes. Let’s talk about the tornadoes first. On the afternoon of Christmas Day, a super-cell thunderstorm produced a tornado near Coaling in Tuscaloosa County. This tornado was weak (EF-0) doing minimal damage. However, the same storm, produced a much stronger tornado around 4:55 pm in Midfield, just SW of Birmingham. This tornado did significant damage to Jefferson Ave. in Birmingham, and was rated an EF-2. Several homes were destroyed and dozens of people were either permanently or temporarily displaced.
The flooding impacted a lot more people, for a longer period of time. The first heavy rain event started on the 21st of December and lasted until the day after Christmas. Rainfall totals measured 4-6″ in most spots. But a few isolated places picked up anywhere from 7-10″. Roads were impassable in some spots in Blount and Cullman Counties, and rivers and streams reached minor flood stage. Another squall line, with lots of heavy rain moved through on Monday the 28th, and dropped an additional 3-5″ of rain in the area. The lack of rain since the new year began has allowed rivers, streams, and lakes to return to normal levels.
Cold Weather Returns to Start 2016
The weather pattern has been a lot more typical of winter since the calendar turned. Temperatures have actually trended below normal most days, with highs in the mid and upper 40s to upper 50s and lows in the upper 20s and low 30s. The abnormally warm air we saw to end December won’t return anytime soon. The rain chances we’ll see in the coming days (1/7-1/9) will be accompanied with slightly warmer temps, getting into the upper 50s and low 60s in the afternoon, but not the 70s we had a week or so ago. And after the rain exits on Sunday (1/10) very cold weather returns, with lows dropping again into the 20s to start the work week.
El Nino Wreaking Havoc on the West Coast
One of the strongest El Ninos ever has continued to batter the Pacific Coast this week, with another strong storm that brought flooding rains to southern California. Local officials have urged people to stay off the roads and be wary of mudslides, that have already triggered accidents all over the busy roads in Los Angeles. The LA Times has a live blog with updates on the impacts of the flooding there. You can follow the latest right here.
California has been the hardest hit by far. Drainage systems have been unable to keep up with the amount of water they’ve picked up in the last few weeks. The next couple of days (1/7-8) will feature more scattered showers than the relentless, all-day rain they’ve seen in recent days.
This Week in Weather History (January 4-10)
January 4th, 1888 – Sacramento, CA, received 3.5 inches of snow, an all-time record for that location. The heaviest snow in recent history was two inches on February 5th in 1976.
January 5th, 1982 – A three day rainstorm in the San Francisco area finally came to an end. Marin County and Cruz County were drenched with up to 25 inches of rain, and the Sierra Nevada Range was buried under four to eight feet of snow. The storm claimed at least 36 lives, and caused more than 300 million dollars damage.
January 7-8, 1973 – A severe icestorm struck Atlanta GA. The storm paralyzed the city closing schools and businesses, and damage from the storm was estimated at 25 million dollars. One to four inches of ice coated northern Georgia leaving 300,000 persons without electricity for up to a week. Between 7 PM and 9 PM on the 7th, 2.27 inches (liquid content) of freezing rain, sleet and snow coated Atlanta, as the temperature hovered at 32 degrees.
January 10th, 2001 – Storms dumped more than seven inches of rain on parts of southern California, including Los Angeles, where nearly four inches of rain fell. The heavy rains caused mudslides and road closures along much of California’s central coast and up to three feet of snow was deposited in some coastal mountain areas.
*Historical weather information provided by WeatherForYou.com
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