James Spann offers a detailed look at Sunday’s severe weather threat

APRIL IN ALABAMA: This is the core of the spring tornado season in Alabama, and for the second Sunday in a row we have the threat of strong to severe thunderstorms across the state. A vigorous weather system will bring multiple rounds of rain and thunderstorms to the Deep South; dynamically speaking this one is not as strong as the one last Sunday (we don’t expect 24 tornadoes tomorrow, like we experienced Easter Sunday), but still potent enough to bring a significant threat of severe weather.

SPC maintains an “enhanced risk” (level 3/5) of severe thunderstorms for roughly the southern 2/3 of the state, south of a line from Reform to Hoover to Talladega to Wedowee. A “slight risk” (level 2/5) is as far north as Sulligent, Oneonta, Gadsden, and Piedmont, and a low end “marginal risk” (level 1/5) runs up to Russellville, Decatur, and Fort Payne. No severe storms are expected north of the Tennessee River.

TIMING: A morning round of storms is expected between 4 and 11 a.m. These storms will be generally along and north of a northward moving warm front, and will be capable of producing hail and strong winds. They should be elevated, and tornadoes are not expected during that time frame.

Then, more thunderstorms are likely during the afternoon and evening hours, between 2 p.m. and midnight. These storms that form south of the warm front will be surface based in unstable air. The pattern will be somewhat chaotic, and we can’t give specific arrival times for any one community. Just be aware that a storm is possible anytime during this 10 hour window.

THREATS: During the morning storms, hail and strong winds are the threats. Then, Sunday afternoon and Sunday night, storms will be capable of producing large hail, damaging winds, and a few tornadoes. A strong tornado (EF-2 or higher) can’t be ruled out in the “enhanced risk”, especially over the southern half of Alabama.

FLOODING: A flash flood watch is in effect for much of Central and South Alabama, where rain amounts of 2-4 inches are expected.

CALL TO ACTION: You know the drill; be sure you have a way of hearing severe weather warnings, and an action plan if you are in a tornado warning polygon.

  • Have a NOAA Weather Radio in your home and business, properly programmed with a fresh battery in case of power failure.
  • Be sure WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts) enabled on your phone … this is not an app, but built into every phone sold in the U.S. Check settings, and notifications, and be sure emergency alerts are on. Have the free ABC 33/40 weather app on your phone as a secondary way of getting warnings. Search the App Store for “ABC 33/40 Weather” if you don’t have it already.
  • In a site built home, identify the safe place. Small room, lowest floor, near the center of the house, away from windows. And, in that safe place, have helmets for everyone in the family (including adults!), portable air horns, and hard sole shoes.
  • You can’t stay in a mobile home if you are in a tornado warning polygon. Know the closest shelter, and how to get there quickly.
  • Sheltering from a tornado is first priority when it comes to the COVID-19 situation. A tornado is an immediate threat to life; get to your safe place or shelter and do the best you can to protect yourself from exposure to the virus.

As pointed out above, this system most likely won’t produce 24 tornadoes like last Sunday. But, all it takes is one tornado in the entire state. If that one comes through your neighborhood, it is YOUR red letter day. We all have to be prepared.

ANXIETY: I think Alabamians are tired of dealing with COVID-19, and after last Sunday, tired of dealing with severe weather. We don’t do this to scare anyone, or make them more anxious, but at the same time we have to let you know there is a risk of severe thunderstorms tomorrow. But remember, even on a big severe weather day, odds of any one place being hit by a tornado are low. We will get through the day together.

Keep an eye on the blog for updates!

For more weather news and information from James Spann and his weather team, visit AlabamaWx.com.

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