What Happened…. Tuesday’s Weather Disaster… Wed Update – 9:40am

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Picture above is from Dr. Chandra Clark in Northport.

Good Wednesday morning! The snow stopped across our area yesterday afternoon and evening, yet we still have major road issues all across west and central Alabama. If you can avoid travel today, I would highly recommend it! There have been thousands of wrecks across Alabama, due to the sudden accumulating snow and the fact that schools and businesses closed as the accumulations started. This placed thousands on the roads at the same time, causing a disaster. Many people were left stranded in their cars… It’s a scene I’ve never seen in my life-time, where highways and interstates turned into a parking lot. People had to literally leave their cars behind and walk to some sort of shelter in many areas, especially around the major cities of Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden and Anniston.

So, what went wrong…. The forecast called for snow flakes across all of west and central Alabama, but we were expecting the best chance of accumulations to occur south of I-20. It appeared that areas along and south of HWY 80 would have big issues, with heavy snow accumulations and travel issues. Most of our forecast data suggested that there wouldn’t be enough moisture north of Demopolis to cause issues. In-fact, some forecast models still suggested snow accumulations would not occur as late as Tuesday morning. Based off radar trends, we knew models were wrong, but it was too late. Schools were in session and business were going as normal. By 9am, the snow had started for some areas, and by noon, it was a disaster. Roads iced over extremely fast, due to the very cold infrastructure. The waves of extreme cold air we’ve had this month set the stage for the problem. Typically, our winter storms occur where ground and road temperatures are well above freezing, which causes melting and limited problems. This was obviously not our typical event… The forecast error was due to something as simple as more moisture than expected. It’s amazing how such a factor could cause or prevent a disaster, but we now know it can. Just like a severe weather event, one factor could cause or prevent a major event.

I did not expect the major roadway issues and accumulations across central Alabama. As a meteorologist, it’s a shame for me to miss such a disaster, so please accept my apology. Because of our forecast, thousands of people were left in a very dangerous situation and some lost their life. This event caught us all off guard, even meteorologists that have been in the business for over 30 years. This goes to show you that meteorology isn’t an exact science and things can go wrong and fast. We will use this system as research for upcoming events. We move on and learn a lesion from each system. This disaster will help us understand and prepare for the next one.

Please be safe everyone! We are still in a dangerous situation across all of west and central Alabama, due to snow and ice. Travel is highly discouraged, until roads can thaw…

Send us your weather pictures! Send them to weather@wvuatv.com. Also, look us up on facebook and twitter. Like us on facebook by searching facebook.com/wvuaweather or WVUA-TV Weather. You can find us on twitter by searching weather@wvuatv.comor WVUA-TV Weather. Great way to get weather updates! Plus, facebook is a great way to send us weather pictures. Simply tag us!

Join us live on WVUA-TV weekdays at 5, 6 and 10:00 P.M. and weekends at 10PM for the very latest on your news, weather and sports.

Richard Scott

WVUA Chief Meteorologist

rscott@wvuatv.com

Twitter: Richard_wvua

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One Response to What Happened…. Tuesday’s Weather Disaster… Wed Update – 9:40am

  1. WVUA Weather says:

    Thanks for the kind response! Needed that! – Richard Scott

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