STORM CHASE STATUS: ACTIVE
TARGET: Central and southwest Georgia and southeast Alabama. Macon, GA to Columbus GA to Troy, AL to Panama City, FL to Valdosta, GA to Macon, GA.
TIME: Depart Atlanta at 11:30am EST. Arrive in target by 1pm. Actively storm chasing until approx. 9pm.
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DISCUSSION: A warm front stretches west to east across central Georgia this morning. This front should remain in this general area through the afternoon and will provide a corridor of increased low level helicity that could be a breeding ground for a few tornadoes. I don’t think we will want to stray too far south of that warm front today. Dewpoints in the mid 60s have moved into south-central Alabama this morning, and will continue to spread across southeast AL and into portions of southwest GA and the western FL panhandle this afternoon. All models indicate a broken line of supercells developing along and ahead of an advancing cold front from central GA into south-central AL after about 3pm today. These storms will have the potential to produce large hail and damaging winds, and in that corridor of higher helicity near the warm front there will be a threat for isolated tornadoes. There is a CAPE and EHI max that has been showing up now on a few runs of the NAM so I believe what we will do is head southwest from ATL on I-85 and establish a base of storm chase operations in Columbus for a while and then adjust locations from there.
WINTER STORM DISCUSSION: Forecast models remain consistent in showing an upper level low snow event across parts of the Southeast starting later today in the Mid-South and spreading south and eastward across Dixie tonight through Sunday. This is a very dynamic system with good moisture associated with it, and the potential certainly exists for some heavy snow. The last couple of runs of the NAM have taken the upper low on more of a southerly route over what it was showing this time yesterday, although the 06z NAM shifted north again. If this track comes to fruition then a swath of significant snow (3+ inches) will extend from Memphis, TN to Birmingham, AL Atlanta, GA to Greenville, SC and northeast from there. It is very difficult to pin down the exact location of the heavy snow in these upper level low snow events this time of year, so who is to say that the area I outlined above will ultimately verify, but we are gaining more and more of a consensus among the models that this track of significant snow is becoming more likely. In my opinion, there is still the potential for this system to produce some “jackpot snows” on the order of 5 to 10 inches, but it remains impossible to pin down the location for that. I want to strongly caution that certainly nothing is set in stone with this system as of yet. There is still a rather sizeable potential that it will end up being far less of a big deal than a lot are anticipating. Keep in mind that snow outside of the state of North Carolina and the mountains of Tennessee, has been basically non-existent this winter. La Nina winters simply do not breed big snows outside of those areas. Also, the forecast models have been less than stellar in their performance this winter. Honestly, we are not going to feel real confident about any snow forecast with this thing until it is actually happening. So, watch the system closely, but don’t be quick to jump onto any snow or non-snow bandwagons until the wagon is actually passing through your area.
If this system produces significant snow near Atlanta, GA on Sunday then I will be broadcasting it live on the internet. I’ll have details about this live broadcast in my Sunday morning blog.