Winter Gridlock 2014: What went wrong? - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Winter Gridlock 2014: What went wrong?

Posted: Updated:
JEFFERSON COUNTY - AL -

Today has been the first "normal" day for many of us since Tuesday. The snow, for the most part, has melted.

Businesses are open. The gridlock is gone.

One of the big topics of conversation this weekend will be, how did all that happen? How did a forecast go so terribly wrong?

Jim Stefkovich, the meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service forecast office.

Mr. Stefkovich says this was a complicated and complex weather scenario. The National Weather Service did expect the snow to move into Jefferson County. What meteorologists missed, was how precipitation would fall.

"We were basically off by one county. But, that county happened to be the most populated county in the state of Alabama," Stefkovich says.

He explains the multiple variables that played a role in the Winter Gridlock of 2014.

"We didn't anticipate a quick heavy band that occurred further to the north. The second issue is, when you look at all the vehicles that were on the road and what happened once it hit the road and refroze that really caused a lot of problems."

Early Monday: Models began to indicate the precipitation could trend more to the north than anticipated.

Monday 8:45 PM:
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for areas just south of Birmingham

Stefkovich says, "That includes Bibb, Shelby, Talladega counties. As the models continued overnight, going into Tuesday morning, the trend for a little more precipitation to go north. We then upped the amounts of snow we were anticipating up to about 1 1/2 inches of snow."

Tuesday 9:00 AM:  A winter weather advisory was issued for Jefferson County.

"What we didn't' anticipate was as much snow getting further north into Jefferson County."

Tuesday 11:06 AM: The advisory finally was upgraded to a winter storm warning.

Here's the problem.

"We underestimated the amount of snow that would actually reach the ground, initially. And, the precipitation came in a little bit earlier, it saturated the entire atmosphere a little bit faster and because of that, we were off by about one to two inches of snow for Jefferson county and area's northward," Stefkovich explains.

Frigid temperatures kept the accumulation right where it fell.

Despite the chaos that ensued, Stefkovich comes to the defense of other agencies and municipalities.

But he acknowledges there's plenty to learn from this weather event.

"We're going to have what's called a 'hot wash'. We're going to be talking with emergency managers, looking at all of our data. Could we have done a better job on our end. And we'll review that and work to improve for the next time."

Stefkovich adds that many people may not know the difference between a weather advisory and a warning.

In central Alabama, an advisory is between one quarter and two inches of snow. Anything above two inches is a winter storm warning.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • Shelby wants plan to fix Central Alabama VA

    Shelby wants plan to fix Central Alabama VA

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:19 PM EDT2014-07-30 01:19:22 GMT
    U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today sent a letter with U.S. Representative Martha Roby to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. The letter requests that Secretary McDonald provide a plan within 60 days that identifies the problems at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, what can be done to correct them, and a timeline for implementation. It also requests that Secretary McDonald visit the facility in Montgomery with Senator Shelby and Represe...More >>
    U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today sent a letter with U.S. Representative Martha Roby to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. The letter requests that Secretary McDonald provide a plan within 60 days that identifies the problems at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, what can be done to correct them, and a timeline for implementation. It also requests that Secretary McDonald visit the facility in Montgomery with Senator Shelby and Represe...More >>
  • Athens man pleads not guilty in Craigslist kitten killings

    Athens man pleads not guilty in Craigslist kitten killings

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-07-29 21:14:53 GMT
    Ronald Fraser Golden, 49, of Athens pleaded not guilty to 22 cruelty charges during a brief hearing in Limestone County, where authorities say he killed the animals in a part of his home he called "the cat room."

    More >>
    Ronald Fraser Golden, 49, of Athens pleaded not guilty to 22 cruelty charges during a brief hearing in Limestone County, where authorities say he killed the animals in a part of his home he called "the cat room."

    More >>
  • Girl who was struck by plane that crashed on Florida beach dies

    Girl who was struck by plane that crashed on Florida beach dies

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 4:34 PM EDT2014-07-29 20:34:21 GMT
    A 9-year-old girl who was struck by a plane that crash-landed on a beach while she vacationed with her family has died from her injuries, law enforcement officials in Florida said Tuesday.More >>
    A 9-year-old girl who was struck by a plane that crash-landed on a beach while she vacationed with her family has died from her injuries, law enforcement officials in Florida said Tuesday.
    More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Greene County Schools ready to "turn up"

    Greene County Schools ready to "turn up"

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:49 AM EDT2014-07-30 12:49:10 GMT
    The Greene County School System has announced a back to school event. It's called the “Back to School Turn-Up.” More >>
    The Greene County School System has announced a back to school event. It's called the “Back to School Turn-Up.” More >>
  • Social Media Night big draw at Regions Field

    Social Media Night big draw at Regions Field

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:22 AM EDT2014-07-30 11:22:59 GMT
    In Baseball, it's important to keep your eye on the ball, but local baseball fans are also keeping their eyes on social media. It's something that's helping the Birmingham Barons fill the seats for home games.Lynnsey Nowell says, "I keep up with a lot of things around Birmingham through Facebook, Twitter, Instragram. I'm one of those people always re-posting stuff." It's that effort that scored Nowell free tickets to Tuesday night' s Barons Game.She also threw the first pitch.Nowell says, "I'...More >>
    In Baseball, it's important to keep your eye on the ball, but local baseball fans are also keeping their eyes on social media. It's something that's helping the Birmingham Barons fill the seats for home games.Lynnsey Nowell says, "I keep up with a lot of things around Birmingham through Facebook, Twitter, Instragram. I'm one of those people always re-posting stuff." It's that effort that scored Nowell free tickets to Tuesday night' s Barons Game.She also threw the first pitch.Nowell says, "I'...More >>
  • Jews and Christians pack out the Levite Community Center for the largest rally since 1974

    Jews and Christians pack out the Levite Community Center for the largest rally since 1974

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:13 PM EDT2014-07-30 03:13:13 GMT
    The guns and rockets are on the other side of the world but the conflict is impacting people in Alabama.More >>
    The guns and rockets are on the other side of the world but the conflict is impacting people in Alabama.More >>
  • Shelby wants plan to fix Central Alabama VA

    Shelby wants plan to fix Central Alabama VA

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:19 PM EDT2014-07-30 01:19:22 GMT
    U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today sent a letter with U.S. Representative Martha Roby to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. The letter requests that Secretary McDonald provide a plan within 60 days that identifies the problems at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, what can be done to correct them, and a timeline for implementation. It also requests that Secretary McDonald visit the facility in Montgomery with Senator Shelby and Represe...More >>
    U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today sent a letter with U.S. Representative Martha Roby to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. The letter requests that Secretary McDonald provide a plan within 60 days that identifies the problems at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, what can be done to correct them, and a timeline for implementation. It also requests that Secretary McDonald visit the facility in Montgomery with Senator Shelby and Represe...More >>
  • Sam factor prepares Rams for sensitivity session

    Sam factor prepares Rams for sensitivity session

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 8:26 PM EDT2014-07-30 00:26:35 GMT
    To guard against another Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, NFL teams are holding sensitivity sessions during training camp.More >>
    To guard against another bullying scandal, NFL teams are holding sensitivity sessions during training camp.More >>
  • Uber blasts Birmingham Councilwoman over transportation code

    Uber blasts Birmingham Councilwoman over transportation code

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-07-29 23:14:19 GMT
    A weeks-long, heated debate over the City of Birmingham's transportation code ends with more friction.More >>
    A weeks-long, heated debate over the City of Birmingham's transportation code ends with more friction.More >>
  • UAB guard Chad Frazier granted his release from basketball program

    UAB guard Chad Frazier granted his release from basketball program

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 7:12 PM EDT2014-07-29 23:12:02 GMT
    The leading scorer on the UAB basketball team is leaving the program. Guard Chad Frazier was granted his release and will not return."Chad Frazier has been granted his release from our program," head coach Jerod Haase said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to our program and wish him the best." Frazier, a first team All-Conference USA selection, was arrested last month and charged with third degree domestic violence. The case was later dismissed.Frazier played one season at UAB...More >>
    The leading scorer on the UAB basketball team is leaving the program. Guard Chad Frazier was granted his release and will not return."Chad Frazier has been granted his release from our program," head coach Jerod Haase said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to our program and wish him the best." Frazier, a first team All-Conference USA selection, was arrested last month and charged with third degree domestic violence. The case was later dismissed.Frazier played one season at UAB...More >>
  • Stephen A. Smith suspended by ESPN for comments on Ray Rice domestic abuse discussion

    Stephen A. Smith suspended by ESPN for comments on Ray Rice domestic abuse discussion

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 6:50 PM EDT2014-07-29 22:50:13 GMT
    ESPN has suspended outspoken sportscaster Stephen A. Smith for a week because of his comments about domestic abuse suggesting women should make sure that they don't do anything to provoke an attack.More >>
    ESPN has suspended outspoken sportscaster Stephen A. Smith for a week because of his comments about domestic abuse suggesting women should make sure that they don't do anything to provoke an attack.
    More >>