Winter Weather Awareness Week
Sunday, November 17, 2013 through Friday, November 22, 2013

The snowstorm of February 9, 2010 dumped several inches of snow over portions of Limestone County, Alabama. This image shows one of the several wintry scenes in the town of Lester. The winter storm of February 14, 2010 brought several inches of snow over Madison county, Alabama. This picture was taken near New Market.
The historic snowstorm of January 9-10, 2011 dumped 6 to 12 inches of snow across a large portion of North Alabama and Southern Middle Tennessee (8.9 inches was recorded at the Huntsville International Airport). Heavy snow blankets Florence during the overnight hours of January 9-10, 2011.  Around 1 foot of snow fell across portions of northwestern Alabama. 

The National Weather Service will observe the week of November 17th through November 22nd, 2013 as Winter Weather Awareness Week in Alabama and Tennessee.

While the frequency of extreme winter weather events is relatively small in north Alabama and southern middle Tennessee, winter weather can cause significant property damage, injury, and even death. With the start of each new season, preparation is the key to lessening the dangers and hazards associated with winter weather. Please join us in promoting winter weather safety during this year's Winter Weather Awareness Week.

 

Winter Weather Safety and Preparedness

Travel Safety:

Many people travel throughout the winter months (around the holidays) so it is very important to check the weather ahead of time and be aware of any potential hazards. In addition, having a travel safety kit  could save your life! Below is a list of suggested items to consider in your travel safety kit. 

      --  Batteries                              --  Sand/Cat Litter
      --  Blankets                              --  Ice Scraper
      --  First Aid Kit                          --  Water/Non-Perishable Food
      --  Pocket Knife                        --  Road Maps/GPS Equipment
      --  Tow Rope                            --  Mobile Phone/Charger
      --  Shovel                                  --  AM/FM Radio 

What are the differences between freezing rain, sleet, and snow???

The challenges of winter weather forecasting go beyond predicting when it will snow or how much snow will fall. At times, determining the type of precipitation is an even bigger forecast challenge! Precipitation type with winter weather is largely related to the temperature profile in the atmosphere (basically between the ground and ~ 20K feet up). Typically, it gets colder as you go up in elevation but sometimes there can be a “warm layer” of air that gets wedged between the ground and the clouds. This will have an effect on the melting/freezing processes of precipitation. Refer to the graphic below that explains how you can get freezing rain versus sleet versus snow or just all rain.

 Local Winter Weather Products and Criteria

Product Criteria
Winter Storm Watch At least a 50/50 chance that warning criteria (>2 inches of sleet/snow and /or ice accumulations of 1/4 of an an inch or greater) will be met in the next 12 to 24 hours.
Winter Weather Advisory 1" to 2" of snow and/or sleet in less than 12 hours
Freezing Rain Advisory

Ice accumulations up to 1/4"

Wind Chill Advisory Wind chill readings between -10°F and 0°F
Winter Storm Warning Greater than 2" of snow and/or sleet in 12 hours or greater than 4" of snow in 24 hours
Ice Storm Warning Ice accumulations of 1/4" or greater
Blizzard Warning Greater than 2" of snow and/or sleet in 12 hours or greater than 4" of snow in 24 hours AND sustained winds of 35 MPH or greater AND considering blowing and drifting snow reducing visibilities to 1/4 mile or less for 3 or more hours
Wind Chill Warning Wind chill readings at or below -10°F
Freeze Warning Temperatures at or below 32°F for 3 or more consecutive hours during a climatalogically significant time of the year (first widespread freeze of the Fall or a freeze after the growing season has started in Spring)
Frost Advisory Temperatures between 33°F and 36°F are forecast. (widespread frost in the Fall or after the growing season has begun in Spring.)

 

 Wind Chill Values Are Important

Remember, breezy to windy conditions combined with cold temperatures can cause hypothermia within 15 to 30 minutes if no precautions such as layered clothing, gloves, warm hat, etc are used. Click here for a table showing Wind Chill values given a certain air temperatures and wind speeds.


 

 Tennessee Valley Winter Weather Images and Events:

Up to an inch of snow fell over elevated sections of Jackson County on December 1, 2008. This was the scene that morning at our Hytop radar site. (Photo by Daniel Lamb)

 The snowstorm of March 1, 2009 dumped up to a half foot of snow over portions of Lincoln County, Tennessee. This image shows one of the several wintry scenes in the town of Petersburg. (Image by Daniel Lamb) 

An icy tree branch in Madison County on January 29, 2010 The winter storm of March 1, 2009 also brought a few inches of snow to parts of north Alabama. This picture was taken in Florence on the morning of the 1st. (Image courtesy Drew Richards)
An icy tree branch in Madison County on January 29, 2010.  Roughly one quarter of an inch of ice accumulation in this picture.
The winter storm of March 1, 2009 also brought a few inches of snow to parts of north Alabama. This picture was taken in Florence on the morning of the 1st. (Image courtesy Drew Richards)

Other significant storms that have impacted the Tennessee Valley in the past are listed below:

  • 1993 "Storm of the Century":  Huntsville received 7.3 inches of snow, 17.7 inches of snow fell in the Valley Head area, and a foot of snow was reported in Scottsboro.
  • 1988 January Winter Storm: Over a half a foot of snow fell across much of the Tennessee Valley, including 9.6 inches at the Huntsville Airport and 10.5 inches at Bridgeport.  Also, around 1 foot of snow fell across much of northwestern portions of Alabama.
  • 1963-1964 New Year's Storm: An all-time record snow event for the city of Huntsville that resulted in 17.1 inches of snowover a 24-hr period. (For more information on winter weather events, visit our significant weather event posters page.
Related Links and Publications

 


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