Friday Afternoon Forecast Discussion – 4:30 PM

A good Friday afternoon to you! Morning rain has ended across west and central Alabama. The rain was associated with an upper air disturbance that has now lifted east of our area. Lots of low level moisture lingers behind the disturbance, which means skies will remain cloudy for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Cold air as taken over all of the area, and many spots are in the lower 50s this afternoon. Ahead of the front, places like Montgomery and Dothan are in the 70s to lower 80s. The front will continue to drift south, so all of Alabama will feel the colder air soon.

The upper air disturbance will help to develop a vigorous low pressure along the east coast. This will bring a major winter storm to places like Washington DC, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. While winter is approaching, it’s very rare to get a winter storm like this in late October. I think this will be something we see for the rest of the fall and winter due to a colder and more active pattern. Look for many east coast winter storms. I think we’ll even see a bit of winter weather around here in December, January and February.

Highs will return into the middle 60s for the weekend, with lots of sunshine. Lows will reach the 30s tonight and each night through the middle of next week. We will likely feel a freeze first thing Sunday morning. This will be a morning where numerous spots see a light frost as well. A secondary cold front will move through on Tuesday. This will reinforce the cool air that is already in place, so look for temperatures to remain in the 60s during the day and 30s at night.

Another storm system looks to approach by Thursday and Friday. We’ll fine-tune the forecast as we get closer to it. There are no signs of severe weather with that feature at this point.

Be sure to join me on WVUA-TV news at 4, 5, 6 and 10pm weekdays for the latest on your forecast. Also, look us up on facebook and twitter by searching weather@wvuatv.com. You can like us on facebook by searching our new page WVUA-TV Weather. Also, send us your weather pictures by e-mail to weather@wvuatv.com. Have a great day!

WVUA Chief Meteorologist Richard Scott

rscott@wvuatv.com

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Rain Gone By 1 PM… Friday Morning Update 8:20 am

All of our area will pick up light to moderate rain for the rest of the morning in west and central Alabama. The heavier rain is in Tennessee, but a band of rain extends southward into our area. The back edge of the rain is in central Mississippi and that’s working towards us fast. The rain will be over in west Alabama between 11am and 1pm and should be over in east Alabama just after 1pm.

Look for rain totals near 1/4th of an inch areawide. There is no lightning involved with this batch. If the rain becomes heavier in your area, it won’t last long and will quickly return to light rain or drizzle soon. 

The local high school football games are looking dry but cold tonight. Temperatures will likely fall into the upper 40s by the ending of each game tonight.

WVUA Cheif Meterologist Richard Scott

rscott@wvuatv.com

Happy Halloween from the Roulaine and Jenkins family! Thursday Update 10:22 pm

“Hey this is Amanda Roulaine from Moundville. I just thought I would share this picture with you guys. The picture is of me and my mawmaw, Katie Jenkins. I carved the one in the middle and she did the ones on the edges! This was her first carving and I thought she did a really good job! I hope yall enjoy this, as well as the cupcakes a few days ago! =) Happy Halloween!”

Thanks for the Halloween picture Amanda! Don’t forget that you can send us your weather pictures. Send them to weather@wvuatv.com. We’ll show them right here on our weather blog page and sometimes on air.

Be sure to join me on WVUA-TV news at 4, 5, 6 and 10pm weekdays for the latest on your forecast. Also, look us up on facebook and twitter by searching weather@wvuatv.com. You can like us on facebook by searching our new page WVUA-TV Weather. Also, send us your weather pictures by e-mail to weather@wvuatv.com. Have a great day!

WVUA Chief Meteorologist Richard Scott

rscott@wvuatv.com

 

Daniel Sparkman’s Story of the April 27th Tornado Outbreak! Thursday Update 6:13 PM

Don’t forge to scroll down for my story as well…

-Richard

Here’s Daniel Sparkman’s story:

For this story I really have to start on Monday, April 25th. Richard and I had a conversation about what we really could expect on Wednesday. We knew at that point that it had the potential to be an historic day. That evening I contacted the Birmingham National Weather Service office to setup an interview for Tuesday, so I could do a story on how they were preparing for such a serious severe weather outbreak. On Tuesday I started the day off heading straight for the Weather Service office in Calera. At this point things were already firing up in Mississippi which would prove to be round one for us in West Alabama. We watched the severe weather across Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi and already knew that there was significant storms. Predictions for Wednesday were worse than those on Tuesday.

 

I remember not sleeping too well Tuesday night because of my anxious anticipation of what Wednesday had to hold. I was awakened somewhere between 5-6 am by the first round of storms that blew through. I live about an hour north of Tuscaloosa so I didn’t go in to work, I also knew that it was going to be a long day and I thought it best to rest at home until I had to head to town. After the storms woke me up I turned on the tv to flip through the channels and see what was going on. I typically surf the local stations when I’m home during severe weather. I also open my computer and logged on to the National Weather Service chat so I could be up-to-date on watches, warnings and any damage reports that might come in. I am taking some classes at the University of Alabama so I knew I had to be in Tuscaloosa by 8am. I loaded up some items I thought I might need for extended severe weather coverage. I grabbed a bag and put a couple changes of clothes and my toiletries in it and got in the car to head down.

That drive in was very different than any I have had before or since. I knew as soon as I got on the road that today was going to be bad, it was just a feeling and a sense that things weren’t right, but I had no idea how this day would change me, my friends, and Tuscaloosa forever. While on the chat with the NWS I made note of damage around West Alabama and emailed the list to our news team so they could get out and investigate. I wasn’t planning on going in to work until about 3 pm, I knew that was just about the time that the storms would really start firing up around our area. I got maybe 10 miles into my 40 mile commute before I hit my first obstacle, a tree down across the road. I drive a pickup truck so I had no problem off-roading and going around. As I continue the drive, I noticed lots of wind damage and power outages all along my route to work. From here some details are a little blurry. I know that I had a class at 8am that I attended and I at some point went to the tv station to kind of just check on things and update myself as to what was going on around our area. That’s when I learned that we had a tornado come through part of Tuscaloosa County in the early morning hours. Richard had manned the storm center during that and was home “taking a nap” (he was actually watching the radar just like me). I spoke with a couple of schools that called wanting information and did a phone interview with a radio station. I had my laptop with me and I was on it all day checking the latest reports and watching the radar returns get closer and closer to Alabama.

I had another class at 2pm that I attended and at this point Richard is back at the station and I am sitting in class texting with him and we are discussing what’s going on around the South. Around now storms start firing in West Alabama. I’m already suited up so about 2:45 I rush over to work and from there it was basically non-stop for the next several days.

Richard and I went on the air with the first tornado warning in our viewing around I believe about 3:30. I recall the producers asking if we would have any shows that afternoon or if they would all be weather. I think Richard and I both said just be prepared to back us up with storm reports and video. We knew once it got started that it wouldn’t stop until late in the evening.

I worked in Montgomery for 5 years and while I was there a tornado tore through the town of Enterprise, killing 8 high school students and one elderly lady. I remember that day, March 1, 2007 and the NWS issuing a Tornado Watch and calling it a “Particularly Dangerous Situation” and that was the first time I had ever heard that phrase. The Storm Prediction Center had also placed south Alabama under a rare ‘High’ risk for severe storms that day. It was all coming true again. The same setup, High risk of severe storms, then comes the PDS Tornado Watch for much of Alabama. Soon followed the first tornado warning and another first for me, a ‘Tornado Emergency’, some community in West Alabama had been put under this situation fairly early in our coverage and it was just the first of many.

During our coverage of the days storms I was watching all the warnings come in and telling them to everyone. I was keeping in touch with the National Weather Service to find out any damage reports and if storm spotters were confirming tornadoes on the ground. I was also updating our weather blog with the latest information. I also coordinated with the producers as to what we were doing next, we had a couple of phone interviews and had some video from the morning storms. It was definitely a hectic position to be in but its also exhilarating.

We got our Tornado Warning that went along with the Tuscaloosa tornado around 4 p.m. as the storm entered Sumter County from Mississippi. We watched and followed it along as the storm eventually moved into Greene County and then into Tuscaloosa County. As it exited Greene County we picked it up on our towercam. As we start to see this tornado live on our air, that’s when I realized that this is no longer just a normal warning after warning scenario. We were watching a large tornado grow stronger and head toward Tuscaloosa.  It honestly was frightening, I knew what that tornado was going to do to the city but it was still like I was just watching a tv show.

During the time that we were watching the storm on our camera a storm chaser called in and gave us his view from the south of the storm. As we are talking about it the National Weather Service issues a Tornado Emergency for the city of Tuscaloosa, which means a large tornado is confirmed with the storm and heading at the city. We knew that the power at the station would eventually go out and we took a few power hits as the tornado start tearing up the city’s power grid.

The tornado was on a path heading for downtown Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama. It eventually made a right had turn as many tornadoes do and headed on a more across town path. I grabbed my phone and texted the last three people that I had conversations with and all i took time to send was ‘TAKE COVER!’. We watched the tornado, thinking it was heading right at us and we were on air warning everyone to take cover right up until the power went out.

As soon as the power went out Richard and I started yelling for everyone to get in the studio and under the desk. We herded dozens of students, faculty and staff into the news studio with flashlights, cell phones, whatever we could find to give us some light. We had battery back-ups on some things so we had a couple of computers for a little while, we were able to update social networking saying what was going on and we could watch the online broadcast from another station as well as keep in touch with the NWS and the radar.

We all hunkered down in the studio, I honestly didn’t know what to do so I ended up squatting on the floor and watching the computer. We waited a few minutes and then someone came in from a different part of the building and I think told us that it was over. Everyone slowly started trickling out of the station and finding their way to their destinations. Richard got a text message from his roommate that their house had been hit so he took off to go see. I saw video that our News Director shot on her camera of the thing and it looked like it had gone just south go the campus. I ran outside to go see what had happened and I tried to get in touch with my family to let them know I was alright.  I didn’t realize that some cell towers had been knocked down by the tornado so cell service was very spotty. I got upset when I couldn’t get the phone to work and I was worried about my house because I knew that it was headed toward my town. I did eventually get in touch with my family, all of who had been watching tv and knew what had happened.

There was no damage just south of the stadium which baffled me, I was sure it had just missed us. I later realized that the tornado was just so big that it looked like it was that close. I went back inside and kept watching the radar. I had my laptop so I used that battery as I could to keep on the internet, which still worked. I let the NWS know that the tornado had gone through town. At some point rumor got going that another was headed toward us and I confirmed on radar that it was false.

This was the worst part of it for me, we are in the dark and I all can do is watch the coverage from another station online. I have no idea how bad it is at this point. Then Richard comes back and tells me his house is destroyed and just seeing the look on his face…he and I hugged and I teared up along with him. I started to realize that this was the worst case scenario. We slowly started hearing more stories of destruction from more of our coworkers and friends. It got harder with every person who discovered they lost everything they owned.

Being the only other weather anchor I stayed back at the station to keep on eye on the weather just in case something did pop up. I sort of consider this a blessing, it was more than a week before I saw the brunt of the destruction in Tuscaloosa. In fact, on Sunday I went and covered the damage in Hackleburg, where an EF-5 tornado when through.

The night drew on and we slowly started seeing more and more video coming back in from our reporters out in the field and it was still unreal and hard to grasp just how bad it was in town. Midnight eventually rolled around and still no power so we decided to go home and come back the next morning to start again.

I spent the next several nights sleeping at one of our producer’s house with some of my coworkers. I couldn’t get to my house because of all the destruction around Central Alabama. The emotional affect of the tornado wasn’t all negative. Those of us who were together after the storm, we worked, slept, and had our free time together for the first couple of weeks, we all grew to become very close. Those are some of my closest friends now.

I feel like since the tornado I have matured more and better appreciate what I have and the people that I have around me. I know that everything could be taken away in an instant. I think my attitude toward life and my reaction to everyday things has changed. I’m not scared of storms from this, it has just made me realize that storms are serious and it makes these storms I see on tv and I warn people about real. I will never look at another tornado warning the same way.

Above all, I thank God for everything he has done for me, sparing my family and my friends and my home. I will never forget how blessed I am.

Daniel Sparkman

WVUA Weekend Weather Anchor

dsparkman@wvuatv.com

Thursday Afternoon Forecast Discussion – 4:50 PM Update

A good Thursday to you! A cold front is moving into the area now, and much cooler air is about to reach Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. Temperatures are in the 70s in Tuscaloosa, while Haleyville is in the 50s. The clouds and rain are located behind the front, so expect a chilly rain to develop later tonight and on Friday, as an upper air disturbance moves in from the west.

Temperatures will hold steady in the 50s all day on Friday, with a breezy north wind. Some spots south of HWY 80 could reach 60, but we’ll remain cooler than that to the north. As skies clear out Friday night, it will get cold. Look for lows to reach the 30s by Saturday morning.

The forecast will remain very consistent over the weekend and early next week. Highs will top out in the 60s over the weekend and early next week. Lows will continue in the 30s at night. Some spots could see a little light frost by early Sunday morning.

Scroll down for my story on the Tuscaloosa tornado and the big outbreak on April 27th!

Be sure to join me on WVUA-TV news at 4, 5, 6 and 10pm weekdays for the latest on your forecast. Also, look us up on facebook and twitter by searching weather@wvuatv.com. You can like us on facebook by searching our new page WVUA-TV Weather. Also, send us your weather pictures by e-mail to weather@wvuatv.com. Have a great day!

WVUA Chief Meteorologist Richard Scott

rscott@wvuatv.com

Looking Back… 6 Months Ago… A Horrible Tornado Outbreak. Thursday Update 1 PM

Today, 6 months ago, a horrible tornado outbreak changed my life. It’s a day that affected so many people on so many ways. Not only did a powerful tornado hit the city of Tuscaloosa, Alberta City and Holt, but numerous tornadoes tracked across the state. Many people lost their home, including myself. I lived in a neighborhood behind Big Lots and Hobby Lobby. I was so fortunate because all of my friends and family made it through the storms fine.

The days leading up to the big outbreak were more than concerning, they were downright frightening. We had a dangerous squall line move through that morning, which left many without power. When the sun came out early that morning, many folks though the severe weather was over, but the worst was yet to come. The sun added to the instability. The instability was a disastrous ingredient thrown into strong wind shear. Shear and instability are the ingredients that aren’t good to have together.

Every storm was producing large tornadoes, and the chance of tornadoes in one area was higher than I’ve ever seen before. Since the Tuscaloosa/Birmingham tornado affected me personally, I’ll focus on that tornado. Understand, there were numerous tornadoes that day that led to the largest single day tornado outbreak in Alabama’s history and nearly the most deadly.

At about 4pm, we started eyeballing a storm that was located in east Mississippi. This storm had a path directly towards Tuscaloosa. It was producing a tornado as it crossed the state line. Once it moved into Tuscaloosa County, we got the report of a wedge tornado with this storm. That was frightening! We knew this would become a disaster for the city of Tuscaloosa, Holt and Alberta City. We got the first glimpse of the tornado from our Tuscaloosa towercam when it was 20 miles away. It was at 5:13pm, when the tornado moved into the southwest side of Tuscaloosa. The warning system was as good as it gets for the storm, yet the tornado was so large, it was simply un-survivable in spots. Be sure to watch the video above from our severe weather coverage. It’s amazing that we stayed on air as long as we could. The main thought going through my mind at the time was warn as many as we can before we get hit. I thought the tornado was going to make a direct hit on our TV station. We were very close! Fortunately, the tornado just missed us to the south by 0.90 miles. Aka. Less that one mile…

After the tornado hit and we and lost power, I knew we had no way to broadcast on television. My main concern was getting to my house, where my roommate and WVUA Director, Jonathan Newman, was at the time. I had no idea what to expect, but I feared the worst. I parked my truck on the side of McFarland BLVD less than 10 minutes after the tornado hit. Rescue personal wasn’t even on the scene just yet. The sound of store and car alarms and police sirens filled the air. The smell of mud, tree sap and natural gas was so strong, it would nearly choke you. The sight of people climbing out of a pile of wood and brick was a sight I’ll never forget. When I got to my house, Jonathan was standing in the front yard. I was so relieved when I saw he was ok and so were my neighbors. Some of my neighbors had injuries, but they were not life-threatening. Unfortunately, that was a different story only 200 yards away, where several people didn’t survive the storm. More than 50 people died in the Tuscaloosa area alone and nearly 250 people died in the state of Alabama, making it one of the most deadly tornado outbreaks in US and state history. Below is a picture of my house the day after the tornado hit.

 

This event changed my life, and I’ll never look at storms the same way. Severe weather will continue to happen at times, and that’s a part of life we will have to live with. I don’t think we will ever see an event nearly the magnitude of this one. I sure hope so!!!

Be sure to join me on WVUA-TV news at 4, 5, 6 and 10pm weekdays for the latest on your forecast. Also, look us up on facebook and twitter by searching weather@wvuatv.com. You can like us on facebook by searching our new page WVUA-TV Weather. Also, send us your weather pictures by e-mail to weather@wvuatv.com. Have a great day!

WVUA Chief Meteorologist Richard Scott

rscott@wvuatv.com

Nice Sunset in Tuscaloosa! Wednesday Update 6:20 PM

Here’s a nice way to end our Wednesday. We’re looking west from our Tuscaloosa towercamera towards downtown Tuscaloosa. Notice the sun has already set by 6:20pm. Sun sets in west Alabama at 6:05pm now! I sure miss the days where the sun set after 8pm…

Be sure to join me on WVUA-TV news at 4, 5, 6 and 10pm weekdays for the latest on your forecast. Also, look us up on facebook and twitter by searching weather@wvuatv.com. You can like us on facebook by searching our new page WVUA-TV Weather. Also, send us your weather pictures by e-mail to weather@wvuatv.com. Have a great day!

WVUA Chief Meteorologist Richard Scott

rscott@wvuatv.com