Good Tuesday afternoon! This has been an incredibly tricky forecast over the past 36 hours, as we deal with a tropical low moving out of the gulf and a weak upper level low moving in from the southwest. We had originally expected a large batch of rain to spread over our area on Monday and today, but two changes prevented a big rain event for our area. First, a large cluster of storms formed on the coast Sunday and remained there through Monday night. Storms in that position often rob our area of fuel for showers and storms, and that caused our area to miss out on a much needed rain. While our area still got some rain and is getting a few showers and storms this afternoon, the coverage isn’t as great as expected. The second issue was the track of the Gulf low. All forecast models suggested the Gulf low would move right over Alabama, putting our area in a large batch of rain and storms. The low cut northeast and has tracked across the big bend of Florida, putting Alabama on the west side of the low, which is the dry side. This is why I love the study of meteorology. Events like this keep us on our toes, and we can learn from this for future events.
Now, into the future we go… A weak upper level low is tracking into the area from the west, and uplift from this feature is allowing scattered showers and storms to pop up over the area. Expect the risk of a passing downpour or two this evening and tonight. A few showers and storms will remain possible on Wednesday, especially south of I-20. Since showers and storms are very slowly moving this afternoon, they will dump some heavy rain in a small area. Unfortunately, the rainfall distribution will be very uneven, and some of you will not get rain at all.
A deep eastern US trough will dig and send a sharp cold front into Alabama Wednesday night. Expect highs to reach the middle 70s on Thursday, with a nice northwest breeze. Skies will remain partly sunny on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as moisture wraps around the upper level low to our east. Highs will only reach the lower 70s on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with lows in the lower 50s at night! The cooler airmass will stick with us through the weekend.
Below is the track and discussion on Tropical Storm Joaquin from the National Hurricane Center. Keep in mind, this track has many uncertainties, as some models suggest the storm will move into the east coast of the US somewhere between North Carolina and New York. Other models keep the storm out to sea, so it will be a worrisome few days for our friends along the east coast.
At 500 PM EDT (2100 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Joaquin was located near latitude 26.0 North, longitude 71.0 West. Joaquin is moving toward the west-southwest near 5 mph (7 km/h) and this general motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days.
Reports from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds have increased to near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Joaquin could become a hurricane on Wednesday.
Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 90 miles (150 km) from the center.
The Hurricane Hunter plane reported a minimum central pressure of 990 mb (29.24 inches).
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WVUA Chief Meteorologist