WINTER IS HERE: The winter solstice was this morning at 4:02a CT, and on this first day of the new season we are enjoying a cloudless sky across Alabama this afternoon with temperatures approaching 60 degrees in most places. The sky will stay clear tonight; the low will be close to 40 degrees, with 30s for colder spots.
Tomorrow will be another sunny, pleasant December day with a high in the low 60s. Then, clouds will increase Wednesday ahead of a strong cold front.
RAIN, THEN COLD: Rain returns to the state Wednesday night; a few strong thunderstorms are possible over far South Alabama, where SPC has defined a “marginal risk” (level 1/5) of severe thunderstorms.
The air will be stable over the northern 2/3 of the state, and no thunder is expected there. Rain amounts of 1/2 to 1 inch are likely, and the rain ends early in the day Thursday. And, as the rain moves out, much colder air will roll into the state with an icy north wind. Thursday will be cloudy and cold with temperatures falling into the 30s, and in the cold air a few snow flurries are a pretty good possibility over the northern third of the state during the afternoon and evening hours. However, at that point the deeper moisture will be well to the east, and no meaningful accumulation or impact is expected.
It is possible a few spots could see the ground white on grassy areas across high terrain of Northeast Alabama by Thursday evening, but even there travel should not be impacted. The big story is the cold air.
The sky will clear after midnight Thursday night, and by daybreak Friday we project temperatures in the 15-25 degree range. Roads should be dry by the time temperatures go below freezing, and no icy travel is forecast. Christmas Day will be sunny and cold with a high between 36 and 42; if Birmingham stays below 40 degrees it will be only the 12th time that has happened on December 25 since 1900.
THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Saturday morning will be clear and very cold; once again we expect temperatures to wind up somewhere between 15 and 25 degrees. Then, the day Saturday will be sunny with a high close to 50 degrees. We reach the mid 50s Sunday; clouds will increase ahead of a cold front that will bring rain back to the state Sunday night. For now this doesn’t look like a major rain producer; amounts should be under 1/2 inch.
NEXT WEEK: Rain ends early Monday followed by a clearing sky; the high will be close to 50. Then, after a mostly sunny day Tuesday, more rain will move into the state at mid-week on Wednesday as a surface low passes through. For now no sign of winter weather issues, or severe thunderstorms…. See the Weather Xtreme video for maps, graphics, and more details.
GREAT CONJUNCTION: Tonight we have the “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn. What makes this year’s event so rare? It’s been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night, as it will for 2020, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this “great conjunction.”
The closest alignment will appear just a tenth of a degree apart and last for a few days. Tonight they will appear so close that a pinkie finger at arm’s length will easily cover both planets in the sky. The planets will be easy to see with the unaided eye by looking toward the southwest after sunset (around 5-7pm CT). But, the best viewing is with binoculars or a telescope. In Alabama, the sky will be clear this evening.
ON THIS DATE IN 1967: An F4 tornado traveled 33 miles across Iron and Washington Counties in Missouri around 1:00 a.m. The tornado killed 3 and injured 52 others. Most of the intense damage occurred in the town of Potosi, about 55 miles southwest of St. Louis.
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Look for the next Weather Xtreme video here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow….