Weird Winter Weather Continues
First things first, we have to talk about our chances for storms over the next few days. At the risk of typing out a full-blown forecast (we have a forecast page you should check out here), I’ll let you know we have chances for strong thunderstorms and severe weather on Thursday and this weekend. Right now there are a lot of factors that will play into this forecast, all of which aren’t really nailed down yet. We do know the timing of the storms on Thursday will be late afternoon and into the evening, with a chance of them spilling over into early Friday morning. Then, another couple of rounds of storms with severe weather risks move in for the weekend ahead. These severe weather risks do come with the chances of damaging winds and isolated tornadoes. We will really have to watch this closely as we get closer to the weekend.
We are finally starting to (slowly) climb out of our deep rainfall deficit. However, Alabama is still in a drought, with a big chunk of Central Alabama in Extreme Drought conditions (4th of 5 drought categories). It’s going to take 10-12” of additional rainfall, on top of what we should usually get, to eliminate drought conditions. Because of the wide-reaching impact of the drought, the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service or ACES launched alabamadrought.com. This website is chocked full of information for not only farmers or those in the agriculture industry, but for people who want to learn why the drought is continuing and how to help the environment during times of drought. Basically everything is covered here, from drought assistance options to how the drought can affect horses. Weather is also a prominent part of the website, discussing the differences between La Nina and El Nino and how these weather patterns can harm or help the drought situation. Emery Tschetter from ACES says that the site will stay up as long as the financial issues from the drought linger, which are expected to last longer than the drought itself. If this drought has impacted you at all over the past several months, check out the site.
Most people will know that a tornado creates a violent wind, leaving a path of destruction behind. But a new study didn’t focus on how tornadoes are created or why they can be so devastating. Instead, Concordia University mechanical engineering professor Georgios Vatistas revisited the story of a tornado that struck Scottsbluff, Nebraska in 1955. During the storm, three radio broadcasters had to take shelter in a basement, where they felt strange atmospheric changes. It went from a midsummer warmth to downright cold as the funnel passed overhead. They also reported that it was difficult for them to breathe. After 60 years, Vatistas and his team figured out the mystery of the dramatic changes. “As air pockets move from the outer periphery of the vortex toward its centre, the pockets expand, thereby bringing the temperature and density down.” They estimated the temperature dropped from around 80 degrees to the low 50s, in just a matter of seconds. They also concluded the air pressure was about 20% lower than what’s found at higher altitudes, which is why the reporters had trouble breathing.
There’s a lot we don’t know about tornadoes, so you can add this to the list. Let’s hope no one has to find out first-hand how cold it can get in the vortex of a tornado. The link to the study can be found here.
Complete Winter Storm Recap from the NWS
The National Weather Service completed their official review of the winter storm that impacted Alabama on January 6th..you can find that here. We talked about the storm last week, but the NWS does a great job of compiling all the geeky information that weather nerds will love.