2003 Weather Year in Review

Twenty-two tornadoes occurred across north and central Alabama which was 138% of normal, or slightly higher than the annual average of 16. All 22 tornadoes that touched down in 2003 where either F0 or F1 on the Fujita Scale. Although property damage was estimated in the millions, only 7 people suffered minor injuries. Forty-two tornadoes touched down across the state which was well above the normal of 22.

Of the 22 tornadoes which touched down in North and Central Alabama in 2003, 11 occurred on May 7th. However, all tornadoes were weak and caused minor damage. Large hail in Alabama is not uncommon but hail up to the size of softballs was reported across central Alabama on April 25th. Supercell thunderstorms produced several long paths of hail damage. Numerous homes and automobiles suffered significant damage across several central Alabama counties on this April day.

The central part of the state was well above rainfall normals for 2003. The first 8 months of rainfall for Birmingham totaled 55.77 inches which was an all time record as the wettest January through August. Birmingham received a record 17.23 inches of rain in the month of May, making it the third wettest month since records began in 1895. Not only did severe weather occur on May 7th, but Birmingham International Airport observed 5.71 inches of rainfall, which became a record for this day and also the fourth wettest day ever. Numerous rivers and creeks rose out of their banks and caused historic flooding in the Birmingham metro area as well as several other locations in central Alabama. Supercell thunderstorms produced isolated rainfall amounts of 12 inches or more in a short period of time. Damage was estimated at 1 billion dollars across central Alabama.

A cooler than normal summer resulted in no temperatures above 95 degrees in Birmingham and Anniston. In fact, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa recorded only one day with a temperature of 95 degrees and nothing above. However, the first part of November was very mild as temperature readings in the low to mid 80s were observed across north and central Alabama. Birmingham and Montgomery both recorded 3 high temperature records during the first week in November.

The coldest temperatures of the year were observed on January 24th. Birmingham and Anniston dipped down into the single digits with temperature readings of 7 and 8 degrees respectively. Tuscaloosa and Montgomery observed temperature readings in the teens. On March 31st, Birmingham and Montgomery observed 29 and 30 degrees respectively, becoming the only record low temperatures for these two locations in 2003.

The 2003 Atlantic Hurricane Season produced seven hurricanes and a total of sixteen named tropical systems. These totals were slightly above average. However, only one tropical system directly affected north and central Alabama. Tropical Storm Bill made landfall along the Louisiana Coast during the afternoon of June 30. The storm entered Terrebonne Parrish near Terrebonne Bay, west of Houma, and continued on a northeastward path. This brought the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill across central Alabama on July 1. Doppler radar estimated a large swath of 4 to 6 inch rainfall amounts across central Alabama, with isolated totals approaching 8 inches. Due to the heavy rain amounts over the previous couple of months, flash flooding was experienced in many counties. Several roadways in each county were temporarily impassable because of the high water. Numerous creeks and streams rose quickly and flowed out of their banks. In response to the saturated ground conditions and winds of 30 to 35 miles an hour, numerous trees were knocked down. Many of these trees landed on power lines causing some 19,000 customers to lose power. At least one automobile was destroyed by the falling trees and one roof was damaged. One man was rescued after he drove his vehicle into high water near Loachopoka in Lee County. A brief tornado also occurred near Pintlala in association with this tropical system.

View Press Release
View Tropical Weather Summary


Preliminary numbers for severe weather in 2003:

Days with Severe Weather in 2003
Days with Tornadoes................................................................................8
Days with Wind Damage or Wind Speeds 58 mph or greater.....................46
Days with Hail greater than .75 inches.......................................................29
Days with Flash Floods...........................................................................22

Additional tornado facts and information can be found on the Alabama Tornado Database Page.

Additional severe weather information can be found in the Alabama Storm Data Section.

Some specific facts for selected cities in North and Central Alabama:


Location
Weather Elements Birmingham Montgomery Anniston Tuscaloosa
Hottest Day 93 on 8/15 95 on 8/24 93 on 7/18 95 on 8/25
Coldest Day 7 on 1/24 12 on 1/24 8 on 1/24 11 on 1/24
Wettest Day 5.71" on 5/7 4.55" on 4/7 3.45" on 5/7 3.09" on 4/24
Wettest Month 17.23" in May 7.94" in April 11.53" in May 9.33" in May


City Mean Temperature for 2003 Mean Temperature Departure from Normal Total Rainfall for 2003 Total Rainfall Departure from Normal
Birmingham 62.5 + 0.6 65.45" + 11.46"
Montgomery 64.6 - 0.3 47.85" - 6.92"


Here are the top 5 yearly records for selected cities:

Birmingham (records Since 1900)
Warmest Coldest Wettest Driest
1921 - 66.1 1983 - 60.2 1916 - 81.82" 1904 - 34.32"
1933 - 65.5 1976 - 60.3 1961 - 76.48" 1931 - 36.14"
1927 - 65.5 1966 - 60.5 1903 - 76.21" 1943 - 36.86"
1922 - 65.3 1968 - 60.7 1980 - 75.36" 1908 - 39.52"
1938 - 65.1 1969 - 60.8 1948 - 71.45" 1954 - 40.66"
Montgomery (records Since 1910)
Warmest Coldest Wettest Driest
1927 - 68.0 1976 - 62.4 1929 - 78.25" 1953 - 26.82"
1933 - 67.8 1983 - 63.5 1912 - 77.89" 1931 - 34.44"
1921 - 67.8 1969 - 63.6 1989 - 75.47" 1968 - 35.46"
1922 - 67.5 1996 - 63.6 1983 - 75.47" 2000 - 37.95"
1911 - 67.3 1968 - 63.7 1975 - 72.98" 1914 - 37.99"


This table compares rainfall amounts from previous years with the current year.
The current year's data has a green background.
The 30 year averages are shown just below the current year's rainfall with a yellow background.

    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total Departure
Anniston 2001 4.14 2.98 9.23 5.21 4.92 6.39 4.29 3.26 4.30 2.37 2.60 3.56 53.25 +1.32
  2002 6.04 2.21 3.58 3.13 2.40 2.32 2.74 2.30 7.55 4.76 5.03 7.63 49.69 -2.24
  2003 2.67 5.62 3.79 4.69 11.53 9.32 8.22 2.47 1.74 0.42 5.86 2.94 59.27 +7.34
1971-2000 30 yr avg 5.34 4.80 6.28 4.87 4.16 4.14 4.49 3.35 3.32 2.87 4.20 4.11 51.93
 
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total Departure
Birmingham 2001 5.23 4.35 8.43 7.30 5.25 7.53 3.61 7.38 6.26 2.43 4.20 4.76 66.73 +12.74
  2002 6.02 2.88 6.47 3.02 4.15 5.27 7.72 1.60 9.94 5.46 4.65 7.23 64.41 +10.42
  2003 2.22 5.80 4.29 4.39 17.23 6.63 5.73 9.48 2.65 0.49 3.27 3.27 65.45 +11.46
1971-2000 30 yr avg 5.45 4.21 6.10 4.67 4.83 3.78 5.09 3.48 4.05 3.23 4.63 4.47 53.99
 
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total Departure
Montgomery 2001 3.86 3.99 12.14 3.00 4.69 1.93 2.88 4.87 2.02 2.18 2.96 3.10 47.62 -7.15
  2002 2.82 2.25 5.77 1.22 0.88 1.31 7.68 2.59 3.83 2.56 2.88 5.17 38.96 -15.83
  2003 1.17 3.53 3.27 7.94 3.31 4.02 7.69 3.73 3.57 1.70 3.98 3.94 47.85 -6.92
1971-2000 30 yr avg 5.04 5.45 6.39 4.38 4.14 4.13 5.31 3.63 4.22 2.58 4.53 4.97 54.77
 
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total Departure
Tuscaloosa 2001 5.82 3.73 6.36 2.32 3.53 4.37 2.37 6.46 8.88 4.95 5.35 6.02 60.16 +2.92
  2002 6.78 3.78 3.86 1.95 2.35 3.26 2.62 2.86 6.47 5.43 4.50 6.31 50.17 -7.07
  2003 2.06 7.29 3.36 5.91 9.33 4.12 4.42 6.39 4.70 2.82 4.12 1.95 56.47 -0.77
1971-2000 30 yr avg 5.72 5.07 6.37 5.10 4.55 4.20 5.71 3.70 3.54 3.47 4.84 4.97 57.24
 


This table compares average temperatures from previous years with the current year.
The current year's data has a green background.
The 30 year averages are shown just below the current year's temperatures with a yellow background.

    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Yearly
Anniston 2001 44.4 51.1 50.6 64.3 70.0 75.8 79.1 78.2 71.1 61.6 57.7 50.5 62.9
  2002 46.8 44.7 54.7 65.5 69.7 77.2 81.0 81.0 77.0 66.7 50.0 43.0 63.1
  2003 38.9 47.0 57.8 63.0 69.6 74.1 78.6 79.8 73.0 62.8 57.8 43.8 62.2
1971-2000 30 yr avg 44.7 47.4 50.4 60.8 69.4 76.4 80.0 79.5 72.8 62.8 53.5 46.1 62.0
 
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Yearly
Birmingham 2001 40.1 51.0 49.7 64.5 70.5 75.3 80.0 78.5 71.5 60.5 58.6 49.3 62.5
  2002 46.9 44.5 54.5 69.2 70.2 76.9 80.6 81.0 77.6 66.9 50.5 44.7 63.6
  2003 38.4 47.3 56.9 64.1 70.6 75.0 79.0 79.9 73.5 63.4 58.6 43.8 62.5
1971-2000 30 yr avg 41.5 45.7 54.7 62.0 69.4 76.3 79.8 79.0 73.4 62.5 53.1 45.2 61.9
 
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Yearly
Montgomery 2001 43.6 54.7 53.2 65.8 72.0 76.9 81.1 80.0 73.6 62.5 60.3 51.5 64.6
  2002 49.4 47.0 57.6 67.8 72.4 78.8 81.8 81.4 79.5 69.8 53.5 46.8 65.5
  2003 42.0 50.4 59.6 65.2 73.7 77.9 80.2 81.1 75.1 65.4 59.7 45.0 64.6
1971-2000 30 yr avg 46.1 49.8 57.2 64.7 71.9 78.7 81.3 80.6 76.5 65.8 56.6 49.5 64.9
 
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Yearly
Tuscaloosa 2001 41.5 51.9 51.3 65.8 71.2 77.1 81.4 80.1 73.0 60.9 58.1 50.2 63.5
  2002 47.2 45.6 55.3 66.7 70.8 78.3 81.8 82.0 79.2 68.6 52.1 45.3 64.4
  2003 39.8 48.3 57.5 64.6 72.6 76.1 78.3 81.1 71.7 63.8 57.8 44.1 63.0
1971-2000 30 yr avg 45.2 49.8 57.5 63.9 71.9 78.6 82.0 81.3 76.2 65.1 55.3 47.9 64.6


The following table shows the number of days the high or low temperature was equal or above/below a given temperature.

Location # of days greater than
or equal to 90oF
# of days greater than
or equal to 95oF
# of days less than
or equal to 32oF
# of days less than
or equal to 20oF
Anniston 33 0 54 6
Birmingham 29 0 50 7
Montgomery 57 1 48 4
Tuscaloosa 48 1 58 4
Produced by Krissy Hurley and Mark Linhares.

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