North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

December 24, 2012

Large severe weather outbreak expected for Christmas Day

By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News

— When it comes to the weather, tomorrow will not be a very Merry Christmas for metro Birmingham and central Alabama.

A severe weather outbreak that is described by various forecasters as "major" and "significant" is expected to hit the area Tuesday afternoon, bringing with a good possibility for strong tornadoes, including long-track twisters of the variety that went through the state in April 2011.

A cold front will be approaching the state from Mississippi and Louisiana shortly after the lunch hour, affecting the southwestern counties of Alabama first. In the morning, however, some storms will develop in central and north Alabama behind a warm front moving from south to north, and a few of these storms may turn severe.

The greatest threat for metro Birmingham appears to be from roughly 4 p.m. to midnight. During that period, we can expect a wide range of severe storms, with damaging straight-line winds, large hail and possible strong tornadoes (EF-2 rating or worse). It's unclear yet as to whether these storms will develop as a squall line that will march through the state, or as a broken line of storms which will include embedded supercells, the kind that produce long-track tornadoes.

The NWS Storm Preiction Center's Monday morning data shows all of the central part of Alabama to be under the gun for significant severe weather, with a 30 percent chance of strong storms and tornadoes occurring within 25 miles of any given point in the area.

Residents are strongly advised to keep up with weather advisories, such as those from the National Weather Service, throughout Christmas Day. Severe weather safety plans should also be reviewed, and preparations made to take cover in a safe place if need be.

This forecast is expected to be updated several times between now and Tuesday morning. We'll have those updates as they become available.