North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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December 24, 2012

Update: Major severe weather outbreak forecast for Christmas

Another run of computer forecasts models shows no letup in the prediction of a major outbreak of severe weather for metro Birmingham and Central Alabama on Christmas Day.

Te latest data from the National Weather Service and its Storm Prediction Center shows that widespread severe thunderstorms, some of which may contain strong, long-track tornadoes, will occur across much of the state on Tuesday afternoon. The bad weather is expected to reach the Birmingham area around 4 p.m., and continue until midnight or possibly a bit later.

Rainy weather will begin as a warm front moves northward through the state in the morning hours. After that, the central section of the state will be wedged in a warm-air mass behind the warm front, but ahead of a strong cold front moving in from Mississippi and Louisiana.

Ahead of the cold front, supercell thunderstorms are expected to form, bringing with them the threat of strong tornadoes. The cold front itself will be accompanied by a squall line containing severe thunderstorms, strong straight-line winds, hail and possibly more tornadoes.

The NWS says that Central Alabama is under a moderate risk for severe weather, with a 40 percent chance of a severe storm within 25 miles of any given point within that area. Furthermore, there's a 10-percent chance of significant severe weather — including strong tornadoes rated EF-2 or worse — within 25 miles of any point.

This threat is made even worse by its timing on Christmas Day, when many media outlets are undermanned and may not relay watches and warnings as quickly as they normally would.

Everyone within the metro area should take extra care to stay informed about the oncoming storms, either with a weather radio or a smart-phone app. Those with travel plans are advised to be out of the central part of the state before 3 p.m., or else complete their travels and be in a safe place by that time.

We'll continue to monitor this weather system as it approaches our area.

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