Winter storm threat for north Alabama late Monday - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Winter storm threat for north Alabama late Monday

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A cold front will move through Alabama Monday and stall out across South Alabama. Small waves along that front will produce an overrunning situation with warm air riding over the cold air near the ground. The question becomes just how far south the cold air will reach. And right now, it looks like the cold air should reach to or perhaps just south of Birmingham, so the I-20 corridor becomes the focus for serious icing while the Tennessee Valley is likely to see just snow. But this is not a line we can be completely certain about. If the cold air intrusion is slightly better than forecast that icing could reach further south toward Clanton and Prattville. Or, should the cold air intrusion be a bit weaker, then icing could be further north in the vicinity of Cullman while Birmingham sees just rain. The lines on these maps are NOT drawn in stone, they are fluid, and we must respond to and be aware of this uncertainty in making our plans in order to be safe.

Accumulation of ice/snow will bring deteriorating road conditions to North Alabama Monday night, possibly as early as 6:00-8:00 p.m. Monday. But, the main issues will come after midnight Monday night into the morning hours Tuesday. Bridges and overpasses initially will become icy and slick, and where precipitation is heavier all road surfaces will become dangerous. There is a good chance that Tuesday will be a "snow day" for much of North Alabama with many closings. Those decisions, of course, won't be made until tomorrow.

For Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Anniston, and maybe Gadsden, there could be more ice than snow, and while I would say it is not likely, there could be enough ice accumulation for some tree and power line damage. I would be prepared for power outages just in case.

The good news is that temperatures will be not in the 18-22 degree range like the snow event here January 28, so there is no comparison to the two situations. They are both significant, but different.

Another wave will bring rain to the state Tuesday evening into Wednesday, this should "wash away" what snow accumulates pretty quickly as thermal profiles become warmer across Alabama. Meaning, a decent chance life gets back to normal to some degree on Wednesday.

CONFIDENCE: Confidence in the large, synoptic scale is high. The hardest part of the forecast is on the southern periphery of the watch area. A few miles will mean the difference between a cold, rainy day, and a big ice/snow problem that shuts travel down completely. And, this boundary will be right over the larger cities in North-Central Alabama. Yes, it is possible Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Anniston could have just a cold rain, but with potential for a significant ice/snow so close, the NWS did the right thing by pulling the Winter Storm Watch southward overnight to include the big cities.

REMEMBER: I say this with every winter weather forecast we issue, and will say it again here. With any winter storm threat in Alabama, expect surprises. The forecast is always fluid, and you need to stay in touch with us for changes as we get closer to the event.

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