2004 Weather Year in Review

An active hurricane season and severe weather outbreaks around two major holidays highlighted the weather across Central Alabama in 2004.

The year started out with Central Alabama flirting with wintry weather on several occasions in the months of January and February. The biggest dose of winter came on February 7, when a cold rain changed over to snow in higher elevations along the Interstate 20 and 59 corridors in Northeast and East Central Alabama.  These locations received several inches of snow during the overnight hours with some wet snow reported as far south and west as Birmingham.  Many people did not even realize there had been wintry weather as much of the snow had melted by sunrise. The rest of the winter was seasonable with no other invasions of arctic cold air into the state.

Although March is traditionally one of the wettest months for Central Alabama, March of 2004 was unusually dry for a large part of the area. Southeast sections of the area received less than a half inch of rain during the entire month, which was just ten percent of the normal rainfall for March.

With the dry weather pattern lasting through much of the spring, Central Alabama's traditional severe weather season was abnormally uneventful.    Just when the Spring Severe Weather Season was about over without any major severe weather affecting Central Alabama, an outbreak of severe thunderstorms including 2 F0 tornadoes struck on Memorial Day, May 31. Besides the two tornadoes, wind damage and hail was reported in the cities of Haleyville, Hackleburg, Brilliant, Fayette, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Mountain Brook, Inverness, Chelsea, Brierfield, Jemison, and Ladonia.

The summer of 2004 was for the most part seasonably warm with no extended major heat waves. Montgomery was the only city to reach the 100 degree mark during the summer, achieving that mark twice, first on July 24 and again August 4.

Central Alabama's biggest weather story of 2004 came in late Summer and early Fall, as the hurricane season got into full gear. While the area received glancing blows from Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, the main event of the season was Hurricane Ivan . On September 16, Ivan brought wind gusts of 60 to 90 mph as far north as Demopolis, Montgomery, and Opelika, and greater than 50 mph all the way up to Hackleburg, Birmingham, and Anniston. While the most intense damage from Ivan was along the coast, the high winds also caused damage to many trees and buildings well inland. Rainfall amounts of 6 to 9 inches were common.  In fact, Birmingham International Airport received 9.75 inches with Ivan which was the all-time 24 hour record rainfall.

The early and middle part of the fall season were seasonably dry and mild across Central Alabama. For the fourth time since 2000, Central Alabama experienced a major outbreak of tornadoes during the Fall Secondary Severe Weather Season. A total of 16 tornadoes struck the region on the day before Thanksgiving, November 24 , affecting areas from Marion, Lamar and Marengo Counties eastward to Calhoun, Clay, and Lee Counties.

The early winter was rather mild as Birmingham did not see a freeze until December 2 and Montgomery not until December 3. But as is often the case, cold air moved into the area just before Christmas.

Preliminary numbers for severe weather in 2004:

Days with Severe Weather
Days with Tornadoes 5
Days with Wind Damage or Wind Speeds 58 mph or greater 34
Days with Hail greater than .75 inches 26
Days with Flash Floods 14

 

Some specific facts for selected cities in Central Alabama:

  Birmingham Montgomery Anniston Tuscaloosa Calera Troy
Hottest Day 95 on 7/14, 7/24 100 on 7/24, 8/4 96 on 7/24 98 on 7/25 95 on 7/24 97 on 7/24
Coldest Day 15 on 1/7 21 on 1/11, 1/29 18 on 12/20 19 on 1/7, 12/20 19 on 12/20 21 on 1/11, 12/20
Wettest Day 9.75" on 9/16 5.07" on 9/16 4.48" on 9/16 3.74" on 9/16 6.50" on 9/16 4.64" on 9/16
Wettest Month 11.13" in November 8.46" in June 10.37" in November 11.12" in November 11.48" in November 8.66" in June
Average Temperature/
(Departure from Normal)
63.5 (+1.6) 67.0 (+2.1) 63.1 (+1.1) 63.9 (-0.7) 63.4 (+1.5) 63.0
(-1.5)
Total Rainfall/
(Departure from Normal)

61.25"(+7.26)

52.10"(-2.67)

58.81" (+6.88)

53.34

(-3.90)

57.39"

(-1.07)

51.70"

(-1.55)


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 36 1 49 3
Birmingham 32 2 44 7
Montgomery 94 30 39 0
Calera 37 1 41 3
Troy 46 2 51 3
Tuscaloosa 50 5 44 3

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