I've read through some of the archived AFDs from the Alabama CWAs (which are archived somewhere on the Iowa Mesonet site; can't remember where off the top of my head, unfortunately). In them there's mention of some possibilities for severe weather coming through in the early morning hours, but they didn't seem overly concerned about that (which seems to me that the storms were anticipated but their severity was greatly underforecasted).That early round of storms killed 6 people, knocked out power, cable, and weather radio repeaters. Even cell service was spotty. I can't help but think that played a role in the deaths and injuries that occurred later on. Was that early morning round predicted to be as bad as it was? What about the late morning round that hit N AL? I don't remember the hearing or reading that either before or after.
Here you go.can't remember where off the top of my head, unfortunately
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BIRMINGHAM AL
347 PM CDT WED APR 27 2011
...SIGNIFICANT SEVERE WEATHER OUTBREAK ONGOING...
A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION IS CURRENTLY UNFOLDING ACROSS CENTRAL
ALABAMA...AND SUPERCELLS HAVE ERUPTED ACROSS THE NORTHERN AND
WESTERN SECTIONS OF THE CWA THIS AFTERNOON. A FEW TORNADOES HAVE
ALREADY TOUCHED DOWN...AND REPORTS OF MAJOR DAMAGE ARE STARTING TO
COME IN. THE 18Z SPECIAL SOUNDING THAT WAS PERFORMED PRESENTS A
DESTRUCTIVE SETUP...WITH 2700J/KG OF CAPE...EXTREMELY STEEP LAPSE
RATES...AND DRY AIR ALOFT. 0-3 KM HELICITY VALUES ARE ALMOST 700.
THE PARAMETERS WILL ONLY WORSEN AS WE GO THROUGHOUT THE REST OF
THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING. THE TIME FRAME FOR THE WORST SEVERE
WEATHER WILL PERSIST THROUGH THE EARLY AFTERNOON HOURS FOR
NORTHWEST SECTIONS OF THE STATE...ROUGHLY FROM 2PM TO
8PM...CENTRAL PORTIONS OF THE STATE...INCLUDING THE BIRMINGHAM
METRO AREA...FROM 4PM TO 10PM...AND THE SOUTHEAST SECTIONS FROM
6PM TO 2AM. I CANNOT STRESS HOW SERIOUS THIS SITUATION IS. DO
WHATEVER YOU CAN TO PROTECT YOUR LIFE AND PROPERTY NOW...YOUR LIFE
MAY DEPEND ON IT! ALL WEATHER WILL CLEAR THE AREA AFTER 6Z
TONIGHT...SO THE CLEANUP PROCESS CAN BEGIN.
The forecasting by all local mets in Birmingham was surreal as early as Monday. Usually with severe threats you would hear them say "threats are: large hail, damaging wind, and isolated tornadoes" wash, rinse, repeat. Well as early as Monday just about everyone had Tornadoes as the number one threat even the more conservative meteorologists were saying that. That alone should have gotten people's attention.I will never forget telling my producers that we need to lead with weather that Sunday night, for a possible event on Wednesday. I got that look of "you crazy?". The last time I saw them they remarked at how well they remember that conversation and how things were as bad as I told them off air....while I did use some strong wording, I probably didn't go as far as I should on air...but again, it was 3 days away,
A gentleman said the tornado looked like a giant octopus coming over the mountain from Oak Grove into Mount Hope.
Now grown massive, the storm shaved the trees from the hills at the northern edge of Bankhead Forest, coming to a precipice overlooking the valley that gives way to Mount Hope.
Most trees snapped near the base. But hundreds of pines were doubled over, treetops attached but resting on the ground, trunks twisted around five and six times, until the wood turned soft and slack like taffy.
In the valley below, the carcasses of tens of thousands of birds and the tin of the poultry houses had been bulldozed together and set aflame. Dozens more dead chickens were piled by the roadside, while thousands of birds wandered freely through the fields. These pictures were taken about 10 months later.
Looking back on things now, it really seems like a lot of the smaller scale details that help the morning QLCS become so intense (as well as produce as many tornadoes as it did in north central Alabama) was the development of the mesoscale convective vortex. That's a smaller scale feature that really can't be modeled well until maybe a few hours ahead of time by the higher resolution convection allowing models... and even then, we all know how well they sometimes don't perform. That's not something that was exactly driven by the large scale environment. Sure, the larger scale environmental CAPE and shear supported severe storms and tornado potential that morning, but you wouldn't expect 70-something tornadoes with five of them EF3 (one almost rated EF4). The morning QLCS alone would've verified a High Risk (driven by a tornado threat, not wind).I've read through some of the archived AFDs from the Alabama CWAs (which are archived somewhere on the Iowa Mesonet site; can't remember where off the top of my head, unfortunately). In them there's mention of some possibilities for severe weather coming through in the early morning hours, but they didn't seem overly concerned about that (which seems to me that the storms were anticipated but their severity was greatly underforecasted).
One can only wonder what factor(s) caused the forecasts to be so grossly off regarding the severity of the morning event...
(time-sensitive) The outbreak thread has reached the point where posters are questioning Huffines's approach/forecast.Not all meteorologists told the public that it was going to be historic. Brad Huffines is one notable example, and as you follow the thread, you may just get to relive his blunder(s).