Thursday October 27, 2016
Forecaster: James Spann
DROUGHT CONDITIONS: I hear it all the time... why has it stopped raining in Alabama? Well, actually, parts of Alabama had 3/4 of an inch of rain last Thursday, up in the Tennessee Valley, but some of the larger cities have gone now without measurable rain for over 30 days. The streak of consecutive days with no measurable rain at Birmingham now stands at 38 (counting yesterday), and there is a high chance today will make 39.
The late, great J.B. Elliott, long time NWS meteorologist and my mentor, had a saying... "droughts beget droughts". We have been under an upper ridge since summer, deflecting the major rain producing systems away... and as the soil moisture vanishes and plants and vegetation begin to die, there is less water available for evaporation from the soil surface, meaning less water available for transpiration. Basically a nasty feedback loop, meaning no moisture available for waves and boundaries that pass through. It makes it very hard to break out of these things.
And, the lack of soil moisture sets the stage for very warm afternoons; the sun's energy doesn't have to work on evaporation, so it all goes into heating the ground, which in turn heats the air. If this were August, we would be dealing with nasty, triple digit heat. We will be close to record highs Friday and over the the weekend; droughts and heat waves go together.
WILL IT END? Yep, droughts always end, And, often in Alabama, they end with a bang. We are shifting from ENSO neutral to a La Nina phase; there is not a very well defined correlation between La Nina and precipitation in an Alabama winter. The main encouragement is that November and December, climatologically speaking, tend to be wet and stormy, and is the late fall severe weather season. This is when the mid latitude westerly winds aloft grow stronger, and can finally break down the nasty ridge. Just a matter of time.
Unfortunately, however, prospects for rain don't look good for the next 7 to 10 days, and drought conditions will worsen. October 2016, for Birmingham, will most likely go down with only a trace of rain on the books... joining 1901 and 1924, when no rain was measured during the month of October.
TODAY: A few isolated showers are possible today with a weak boundary passing through, but with little moisture and weak dynamic support, meaningful rain just won't happen. The day will feature a mix of sun and clouds with a high close to 80 degrees.
TOMORROW AND THE WEEKEND: We will be close to record highs on these three days; temperatures will reach the mid 80s with a sunny sky each day.
FOOTBALL WEATHER: A clear sky for the high school games tomorrow night with temperatures falling through the 70s.
For Saturday’s Magic City Classic in Birmingham (Alabama State vs Alabama A&M… 3p CT kickoff), the sky will be sunny with temperatures falling from near 85 degrees at kickoff, into the 70s by the fourth quarter.
Auburn is on the road this weekend; they play at Ole Miss in Oxford (6:15p CT kickoff)… the sky will be clear with temperatures falling from near 74 at kickoff into the mid 60s by the fourth quarter.
Alabama has the weekend off.
NEXT WEEK: We should turn cooler during the latter half of the week, but unfortunately global models are trending drier, and the idea of a rain event at the end of the week for now seems to be off the table. The European model (ECMWF) offers no real hope for significant rain here for the next ten days.
AT THE BEACH: Sunny days, fair nights on the Gulf Coast from Panama City Beach to Gulf Shores through the weekend with highs in the low 80s.
TROPICS: The Atlantic basin is quiet; over in the eastern Pacific Hurricane Seymore is still a category four system, but will weaken quickly later this week as it gains latitude and encounters colder water.
Today's Record Temperatures