On this date six months ago weather forecasters across the southeastern United States were becoming increasingly nervous. For eight days in a row computer model data had indicated that we could see severe weather in the Tuesday/Wednesday (26th and 27th) time frame. The numbers coming from the models were not marginal, they were extremely high. They were so high that it was hard for long time meteorologists and weather enthusiasts to really mentally grasp and believe it possible. As the days went on, forecasters waited for the models to flip flop or for them to at least back off on some of those extreme numbers. That never happened. The opposite happened.
Everything seemed to really ramp up as the weekend approached and it was becoming very obvious that severe weather would without a doubt occur. Still, the magnitude could have never been foreseen. While forecasters knew that severe weather would occur, they continued to think that SOMETHING would mess this setup, up just a little bit. At least enough that it would be just another day with a few tornado warnings. That never happened.
Instead it looked more and more that a tornado outbreak of historic proportions was possible across several southeastern and mid-south states. By Monday morning, a rare 3 day moderate risk was issued by the Storm Prediction Center. That continued into Tuesday. They neglected to go with a high risk on Tuesday because the models had actually changed; only slightly though. The idea was now that and area of showers and t-storms would move through late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning followed by the “big show” on Wednesday afternoon. No one knew for sure what those storms would do to our atmosphere.
Would they completely deplete us of our rich gulf moisture or would they lay down boundaries and increase both our speed shear and our directional shear. The second happened. Most people who study weather and who live in the southern United States got little sleep Tuesday night as they watch a huge complex of t-storms move out of Mississippi into Alabama.
Who would have thought that, that in itself would cause widespread wind damage and basically wipe out Alabama’s infrastructure when it came to communication in Alabama in particular. That would play a huge role as Alabamians and southerners would awaken on Wednesday morning. We will talk about Wednesday in tomorrows edition of the blog which will be the 6 month anniversary of that terrible day or tornadoes.