As always there is uncertainty as to how the severe weather will play out on Wednesday. It's certain there will be watches and warnings and we will have storms to track. Factors that evolve during the event can change how things develop, but we have enough confidence to boil things down to a few basic probabilities. The storms are likely to come in four waves:
- From 5 to 7 AM all models are forecasting thunderstorms to fire up close to our area. We don't know whether this will happen close to Columbus/Auburn or further north thus missing the cities, but there's a consensus they will move north toward Atlanta. They are associated with a warm front, and tornado risk with these will be low since they most likely won't be supercells. Hail and high winds may be possible.
- After a break, the atmosphere should recover enough to start producing supercell-type storms in the warm sector sometime around midday or early afternoon, which is right where we will be at that time. These will be scattered, fast-moving, and could produce significant tornadoes for a few hours before moving east.
- The third wave is a bit more iffy, but by late afternoon we could see another eruption of supercell storms and potential tornado producers. This appears to be focused further north toward Atlanta in the current model data, but is not guaranteed to happen exactly that way.
- Finally, a line of storms just ahead of the advancing cold front will cross Alabama and move through our area in the mid to late evening. The prime threat with the line should be extreme straight-line winds, but tornadoes will still be possible within the line. Passage of the front prior to midnight will put an end to the storms.
I'm mostly concerned with #2 and #4 as I type this evening, but keep in mind that similar to an ongoing infantry battle or skirmish, conditions change, the atmosphere reacts, and meteorologists react to that.
My best advice is have your plan of action ready just in case you come under a warning at some point. If you live in a mobile home, when a watch is issued, leave your place for somewhere safer and don't return home until the watch expires or the last storm passes. Don't wait for the warning!
The First Alert weather team of meteorologists will spend much of the day tracking any storms that develop and of course will pass on to you the best information we have on dangerous weather. You will need to act on that information. Of course we will also let you know when the threat is over and you can rest easy.
This is potentially a volatile situation taking shape for Wednesday. Some of the atmospheric parameters for severe storms are shown on models to be as high as I've seen around here in quite some time. Please take it seriously, even if it turns sunny, windy and warm at some point because that would mean the atmosphere is primed for more.
Kurt Schmitz, Senior Meteorologist