Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wild Weather Day in Alabama....


It was a wild 24 hours across parts of the Southeast Saturday into Sunday Morning. Severe weather and tornadoes followed by snow affected much of the southeast as a strong storm system moved from the Mid South to the Southeast Atlantic Coast. Three tornadoes touched down in East Central Alabama Saturday morning and ranged from an EF-0 to an EF-2 in intensity. I took a few snap shots from the FFC Doppler velocity data to show where the rotation was as it moved through Lee County. The first shot shows an area of rotation just east of Notasulga near the Macon-Lee County line. This area of rotation would eventually touch the ground near Salem, AL becoming the strongest tornado of the day. A second area of rotation is just north of Auburn. This rotation would lead to the EF-1 tornado near The Bottle at the intersection of highway 147 and US 280. Top winds in this tornado were estimated to be near 100mph. (source National Weather Service BMX) The next image shows a strong area of rotation near exit 51 on interstate 85 or near Chewacla State Park. I have not heard of any damage reports from this area so it appears the rotation was still in the air. The final image is the area of rotation as it passed through Salem. From the damage survey performed by the National Weather Service in Birmingham, an EF-2 tornado passed through at this time. Several buildings and homes were damaged and there were a few minor injuries. If you look closely at this image and compare to the last image, the rotation does not appear to be as tight. A large area of light blue color is becoming dominate in this image showing a strong outflow which eventually lead to the demise of this tornado. The Salem tornado was on the ground for 2.65 miles and had a maximum width of 500 yards. Top winds were estimated to be near 130 mph making this a strong EF-2 tornado. (source National Weather Service BMX) If you look closely again at the last image, the large area of light blue is showing the possibility of strong straight line winds over a large area. A few minutes later this area spread across Smiths Station causing wind damage to many building and trees. Normally having a day packed with severe weather is wild enough but Mother Nature was not done with East Central Alabama. A little more than 24 hours later this area received the heaviest snow it has seen in many years. Parts of Eastern Lee County received over 5 inches of snow. Below is a map from the National Weather Service in Birmingham showing the snowfall accumulations for Alabama on Sunday. A wild weather day indeed!

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