TODAY/TONIGHT: We’ll continue to have mainly sunny skies throughout the remainder of the daylight hours, with afternoon highs reaching the upper 40s to the lower 50s. This evening and into the overnight hours, skies will remain clear for much of the area, but clouds will be moving in the northwestern parts of central Alabama as the cold front begins to move in before dawn on Tuesday. Overnight lows will be in the mid-20s to the lower 30s. Maybe a few flurries begin to fall before sunrise in the northwest, but the rest of us will see the snow well into the morning on Tuesday.
SNOW DAY: The cold front will have made it to the Birmingham metropolitan area by sunrise, but the snowfall will be lagging behind the front. Models have really slowed the forward progress of the snow, and if this turns out to be true, more moisture could possibly be pulled into the system.
TIMING: The timing for the main snowfall to start in the northwest will be around the 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. time frame, reaching the Birmingham area by 10 a.m. to noon, and the southeast by 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Snowfall amounts do not look to be impressive at this time, with a dusting in the southern parts of the area to a possible 1 to 1.5 inches in the northern parts. As I mentioned earlier, if more moisture is pulled into the system, we’ll have to up those totals a little bit. We still have to wait and see on that at this hour.
THREATS: The main issue will be the dropping temperatures that will allow for major icing issues throughout at least the northern half of the state, but maybe as far south as Montgomery, Troy and Eufaula. High temperatures will come at different times, topping out in the upper 20s in the northwest to the lower 50s in the southeast. By 3 p.m., temperatures north of the I-59 and I-20/59 corridors will be below freezing in the 25- to 30-degree range. Those temperatures will continue to plummet, ranging from the upper teens in the northwest to the freezing mark all of the way down to the I-85 corridor in the southeast. Overnight lows will bottom out in the lower teens to the lower 20s, and could actually be a few degrees colder if there is snow cover on the ground. The bigger story will be wind chills ranging from near 0 degrees to the mid-teens from north to south, with winds averaging 5 to 15 mph out of the north.
While road temperatures will be mostly above freezing to start with, those temperatures will quickly start dropping during the early afternoon. Any melting that occurred earlier could possibly flash freeze and cause widespread icing issues on all surfaces, even with the limited moisture associated with this event. I am no road expert, but I believe road conditions will deteriorate rather quickly once the snow starts falling decently. No need to take a chance on getting stuck out on the road somewhere.
SCHOOLS: School closings for Tuesday include Bevill State Community College, Haleyville City Schools, Jasper City Schools, Walker County Schools and Winston County Schools. For the latest on closings and delays, please visit the ABC 33/40 Closings page.
WATCHES AND ADVISORIES: The following are already in effect for Tuesday and Wednesday:
- Winter Weather Advisory, 3 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday for Lauderdale, Colbert and Franklin counties; 6 a.m to 9 p.m. Tuesday for Madison, Morgan, Marshall, Jackson, DeKalb and Cullman counties. Light snow is expected. Plan on slippery road conditions, including during the morning commute on Tuesday. Total snow accumulations of up to 1 inch are expected.
- Winter Storm Watch, 6 a.m. Tuesday to 3 a.m. Wednesday for Marion, Lamar, Fayette, Winston, Walker, Blount, Etowah, Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega, Clay, Randolph, Sumter, Greene, Hale, Perry, Bibb, Chilton and Coosa counties. Accumulating light to moderate snow is expected. Plan on difficult travel conditions, including during the evening commute on Tuesday. Total snow accumulations of up to 1 inch are possible, but isolated higher amounts cannot be ruled out.
- Hard Freeze Watch, 9 p.m. Tuesday to 9 a.m. Wednesday for all of the central Alabama counties. A range of 10-24 degrees is expected Wednesday morning. Prolonged exposure to these temperatures could result in exposed water pipes freezing and possibly bursting, as well as killing sensitive vegetation.
- REMINDER: Please remember the 4 Ps — People, Pets, Plants and Pipes. The cold air that will be in place can cause damage to plants and property, so be sure you take the proper steps to protect those. Be sure to check on the elderly and make sure they have proper and safe ways of staying warm. Bring those pets indoors, as this cold will be harmful or even deadly. It is possible that a Winter Weather Advisory or Winter Storm Warning could be issued for central Alabama later this afternoon or evening. Keep checking AlabamaWx throughout the day for the latest updates, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook (@AlabamaWxBlog).