Specifics About Wednesday’s Winter Storm

Posted on: 3:49 pm, February 11, 2014, by , updated on: 06:05pm, February 11, 2014

***This is an update as of 6:00 PM on Tuesday afternoon. If you’re reading this after 8 PM Tuesday or Wednesday morning, you are not seeing the latest information. Click to the home page for the latest updates.***

Snowfall on Tuesday morning was very impressive, and it far outpaced our expectations. That’s how this works more often than not, though. Winter storms always bring a surprise because they are extremely complicated beasts.

Speaking of complicated, Wednesday’s changing weather will make your head spin. Let’s start with the end game: another significant snow is likely over northeastern Alabama on Wednesday. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect starting at 3 AM Wednesday through 6 AM Thursday; that time corresponds to the time of largest impact by wintry precipitation.  (Map updated at 6 PM to increase snow totals a little).

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The Timeline:

Let’s start with the RPM model output for 6 AM Wednesday – most of this is a wintry mix with surface temperatures near 32ºF. That means sloppy, slushy roads, but it probably won’t be totally iced over in the morning. If you wake up in the morning and see nothing but rain or a mix, don’t just expect that it’s a busted forecast. The main event is still to come. As you advance these graphics, you see the blue area expanding as heavy snow develops from late morning through the early afternoon.

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The Impacts: If you remember the snow we had in January 2013, you recall heavy snow came and went pretty quickly with some folks getting a quick 4-6″ of snow in Cullman, Morgan, and Marshall Counties. Temperatures were in the low-30s, and it didn’t fall below freezing until the snow started falling. Once the snow stopped, it bounced back up into the mid-30s and most roads improved quickly except the hardest hit areas along I-65 in Cullman County.

This will be a lot like that. It’s not cold enough for this to cause icy roads for days to come; this will be a here-and-gone snow event. The heaviest areas (4 inches or more) will see travel problems that could last into Friday. The areas that get less snow will see things thaw out on Thursday. The higher terrain on Sand, Lookout, Brindlee, Cumberland, and in Madison County may see icy roads through much of Friday; that’s where this will make the biggest impact.

We will be updating things throughout the rest of the day and night as we watch this unfold. Expect some adjustments to the forecast maps through the night.

-Jason
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