Updates: Potential for severe weather across Alabama tonight – AL.com

This story will contain continuous updates on Alabama’s severe-weather threat.

8:55 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Birmingham said the best chance of severe weather for the remainder of the night will be along and south of a line from Marion to Calera to Wedowee.

More storms will be possible later tonight as a cold front crosses into the state.

8:45 p.m.: A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Autauga, Dallas and Lowndes counties until 9:45 p.m. That storm contains winds of up to 60 mph and 0.75 inch hail is possible, according to the National Weather Service.

8:30 p.m.: Damage appears to be considerable in Florida’s Escambia County where a possible tornado just passed through. Vehicles have reportedly been blown off the interstate. This is from veteran storm chaser Brett Adair:

8:25 p.m. The National Weather Service has canceled the tornado watch for Greene, Hale, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties in central Alabama.

Forecasters said that storms to the west in Mississippi could bring the threat of isolated hail later tonight, but the threat of tornadoes will diminish.

8:20 p.m. The National Weather Service in Mobile relayed a report from a 911 center that a tornado was seen crossing a bridge in Florida on Interstate 10 in Escambia County, and damage has been reported in that location.

There are no tornado warnings in Alabama at the moment.

8:18 p.m.:  A special weather balloon launch showed stable air in north Alabama, although the National Weather Service in Huntsville said that could possibly change later tonight.

8:15 p.m.: The severe thunderstorm warning has been canceled for Perry County. A warning is still in effect for Dallas County until 8:45 p.m.

8:15 p.m.: Alabama has no active tornado warnings as of 8:15 p.m. Several counties were under severe thunderstorm warnings, and more storms were moving eastward across Mississippi. 

8:06 p.m.: A severe thunderstorm warning continues for Dallas and Perry counties until 8:45 p.m.

8:04 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Mobile has canceled the tornado warning for Baldwin County. A warning continues for Escambia County in Florida. The weather service said the storm was located near West Pensacola.

7:53 p.m.: A tornado warning continues for Baldwin County in Alabama and Escambia County in Florida. No damage reports have come in to the National Weather Service so far:

7:51 p.m.: The tornado watch has been canceled for Choctaw County, according to the National Weather Service in Mobile.

7:50 p.m.:  A large mass of rain was moving over parts of west-central Alabama. The strongest storms were located in south Alabama, where the Storm Prediction Center has a moderate risk in place.

7:50 p.m.  A flash flood warning was in effect for several southwest Alabama counties until 10:30 p.m.:

7:45 p.m.: The tornado warning continues for Baldwin, Ala., and Escambia County in Florida. The storm was located near Perdido Beach and was moving northeast at 40 mph. 

Another tornado warning for Marengo County was set to expire at 7:45 p.m.

7:40 p.m.: Things still quiet in north Alabama, but storms could return to the area after 9 p.m.:

7:40 p.m.:  A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Dallas and Perry counties until 8:45 p.m.

7:25 p.m.: The tornadic supercell is still looking ominous. The National Weather Service said it was located near Orange Beach as of 7:32 p.m.:

7:25 p.m.: The Storm Prediction Center said that the tornado threat over western parts of central Alabama will remain limited for a while. However, there are more storms back to the west in Mississippi that could affect the area later tonight. There have been reports of at least two brief tornadoes in that area earlier this evening, although neither has been confirmed:

7:18: A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Baldwin, Clarke, Mobile, Monroe and Washington counties until 8 p.m.:

7:16 p.m.: The tornado warning for Sumter County has been canceled.

7:14 p.m.: Tornado warning issued for Baldwin, Ala., and Escambia, Fla. The weather service said the storm contained a large and extremely dangerous tornado and was located 8 miles south of Gulf Shores. It was moving northeast at 40 mph:



7:12 p.m.: The storm nearing the Gulf Coast is something to take seriously:

7:10 p.m.: Here’s a look at storm reports so far via the Storm Prediction Center:

7:05 p.m.:  The tornadic supercell off the Gulf Coast is being closely watched:


7 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Mobile has gotten a report of a tree down across Highway 69 south of Coffeeville in Clarke County.

6:57 p.m.: Trees reported down on County Road 9 in Sumter County near Ward.

6:53 p.m.: The Storm Prediction Center said there is a “significant” tornado threat for extreme south Alabama for the next hour or so. The weather service in Mobile said a tornadic supercell is over the Gulf and moving toward the Baldwin-Escambia county coast:


6:50 p.m.: New tornado warning — this one for Marengo County. It is a radar-indicated tornado:

6:45 p.m.: Here’s a look at the radar in central Alabama as of 6:45. Storms still ongoing:

6:45 p.m.: There are no active severe weather warnings in north Alabama, but the National Weather Service in Huntsville issued a significant weather advisory for western Lauderdale and western Colbert counties until 7:15 p.m.

The weather service said wind gusts of up to 50 mph are possible with that storm.

6:39 p.m.: The tornado warning has been canceled for Baldwin, Mobile, Washington and Choctaw counties. That leaves two active tornado warnings in the state — one in Clarke County and one in Sumter County. 

6:37 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Birmingham said there were several cells capable of producing tornadoes in Sumter County, which is under a tornado warning. The storms were located along a line extending from Tamola to near Butler.

6:35: A new severe thunderstorm warning has been issued in southwest Alabama until 7 p.m.:

6:31 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Birmingham said damage has been reported from what could have been a brief tornado earlier near Hackleburg in Marion County:

6:29 p.m.: Tornado warning extended for Baldwin, Clarke, Mobile and Washington counties in southwest Alabama until 7:15 p.m. The National Weather Service in Mobile got a report of a funnel cloud near Tallahata Springs in Clarke County just after 6:15 p.m.

6:25 p.m.: A tornado warning has been issued for Sumter County in west-central Alabama until 7:30 p.m. The tornado was radar indicated and was moving northeast at 55 mph. 


6:20 p.m.: A tornado warning was still in effect in southwest Alabama until 6:30 p.m.:

6:20 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Huntsville was watching a storm tracking eastward from Mississippi. No warnings at this time:

6:15 p.m.: A tornado warning remains in effect for several southwest Alabama counties until 7 p.m.:

6:12 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Birmingham said another spin-up tornado may have touched down briefly near Hackleburg in Marion County. The weather service has not gotten any damage reports so far. 

Here’s a look at radar returns from that storm:

6:05 p.m.: A flash flood warning has been issued for Choctaw, Clarke and Mobile counties until 9 p.m.

6:02 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Mobile said the tornado watch for southwest Alabama will be extended until 10 p.m. Here’s what the radar was looking like in southwest Alabama:

6 p.m.: Severe thunderstorm warning for Choctaw and Clarke counties until 7 p.m.:

5:55 p.m.: New tornado warning issued and includes part of Mobile County. The tornado was radar indicated and moving northeast at 55 mph:

5:52 p.m.: A new tornado watch has been issued for central Alabama until midnight. It does not include Jefferson County. It is not a PDS watch like the one in southwest Alabama:

5:48 p.m.:  A new tornado watch will be coming for parts of central Alabama soon. The National Weather Service in Birmingham said it was “imminent.”

5:45 p.m.: Severe thunderstorm warning issued for several southwest Alabama counties until 6:30 p.m.: 

5:35: The National Weather Service in Mobile said a “large and extremely dangerous” tornado had been confirmed on the ground. The storm was located 12 miles northwest of Leakesville, Miss., and was moving northeast at 50 mph. That tornado warning also includes part of Washington County, Ala.


5:27 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Birmingham said it was coordinating with the Storm Prediction Center on a possible tornado watch for part of central Alabama.

The weather service said severe storms in west Mississippi could move into west Alabama in the next few hours.

5:26 p.m.: First tornado warning of the day has been issued for southwest Alabama. Will be in effect until 6:15 p.m.:

5:25:  The Storm Prediction Center said that strong tornadoes will be possible over the next several hours in parts of southwest Alabama as well as Mississippi and Louisiana.

Forecasters noted that wind shear has been increasing rapidly and the area has continued to become less stable and more favorable for the development of rotating storms.

5:15:  Photo of damage from a possible tornado in Pickens County was posted on social media. There has not been an official confirmation of a tornado yet:

4:55 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Mobile was continuing to track severe thunderstorms in eastern Mississippi. Forecasters there expected the cells to increase in number and move rapidly into southwest Alabama over time.

4:40 p.m.: The National Weather Service office in Birmingham is getting reports of what some say was a small tornado in Ross Bridge in the Birmingham metro area just after 4 p.m. No confirmation on whether a tornado did touch down so far.

A report also has come in to the weather service of a tornado touching down northeast of Reform in Pickens County. Some damage has been reported and the weather service was told emergency responders were on the way to the scene.

4:30 p.m.: 

A new tornado watch may be coming for portions of south Alabama, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

4:10 p.m.

Alabama appeared to be in the bullseye of a prime area for severe weather on Tuesday, and Gov. Robert Bentley issued a state of emergency in anticipation of a rough night ahead.

A rare form of tornado watch was issued Tuesday afternoon for part of southwest Alabama and will be in effect until 10 p.m.

The watch, issued by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, is called a PDS tornado watch. PDS in this case stands for “particularly dangerous situation.”

According to the SPC, a PDS watch is rare and used in a situation where “long-lived, intense tornadoes are likely.”

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Rain and storms were breaking out across parts of the state on Tuesday afternoon, but so far no storms had become severe. The National Weather Service expects that to change as the afternoon wears on.

The weather service in Mobile was watching supercells evolve in southeast Louisiana and out over the Gulf. Forecasters were expecting those storms to move toward southwest Alabama in the next few hours.

South Alabama had a moderate risk of severe weather on Tuesday. The rest of the state is also facing a severe weather risk, especially later Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night.

All forms of severe weather will be possible, including damaging winds, large hail, heavy rain and tornadoes. The SPC said a few of those tornadoes could be strong, long-track storms.

The weather service also said winds apart from storms would be on the increase for the rest of the afternoon and tonight. Wind advisories covered much of the state as of Tuesday afternoon.

The storms also had the potential to add to rain amounts from Monday’s wet weather, and a flood watch was in effect for parts of north and central Alabama.

The weather service said the combination of saturated ground and strong winds could bring down trees statewide — even without the help of thunderstorms.

John De Block, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Birmingham, said Tuesday that the threat of severe storms should not be taken lightly.

“I think for an early-season severe weather threat this is a very significant threat,” he said. “Certainly, everybody’s frame of reference is April 27, 2011. This is not going to be an April 27th-type of event. However, we are looking at a significant threat for severe weather for about the southern half of the state — from Clanton all the way down to the Gulf Coast or the Florida state line. In that area we’re looking for the possibility of strong to violent tornadoes — some of them may be long-track. So that’s obviously the big concern.”

The rest of the state also faces the risk of severe storms.

“Anyone that lives in the north half of the state shouldn’t let their guard down — there is still the threat for tornadoes,” De Block said. “It’s just not the best conditions that we’re looking at but we’re still looking at an elevated threat for severe weather and certainly the possibility of strong thunderstorm winds will be enough with our wet ground to knock down a whole bunch of trees.”

A powerful storm system taking shape to the west will continue to bring an influx of warm, moist air over the state. That will help prime the atmosphere for severe storms to develop later this afternoon with the approach of a cold front.

De Block called it a “textbook setup” for severe weather.

“An intensifying upper-level low pressure system, a surface low that tracks just to our west, that’s really the ideal situation,” he said. “That’s what makes a severe weather season in Alabama happen.

“Fortunately, they don’t happen that frequently.”

Forecasters expect storms — some of them supercells — to develop late this afternoon and tonight and move across parts of Alabama. Another round of storms — this one in the form of a squall line — could also cross the state ahead of the cold front later tonight or early Wednesday morning.

Clouds were thick across much of the state on Tuesday afternoon, but De Block said the lack of sunshine won’t do a whole lot to diminish the severe weather threat.

“We’re looking at the significant warm, moist air still being advected to the north,” he said. ” … (that) air is working its way northward. So, certainly we expect with this intense low-pressure system the southerly winds will increase. And, really, it should be able to overcome the cloudy, rainy conditions that are ongoing, especially south of Birmingham.”

The storms are expected to clear the state by Wednesday morning, and cold air is expected to make a return, possibly bringing a few snowflakes to northern Alabama through Thursday morning. No accumulations are expected.

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