I hope you all had a good Christmas & that 2011 treats you well.
The most notable event about Christmas 2010 of course was that many of us received the first White Christmas on record. In my case technically it missed me. I did have one spot in the yard that received a dusting. I’ll count it as a White Christmas, even if it isn’t officially one. For the Birmingham Airport which is the reference point where weather statistics are recorded also received just a dusting. So “officially” Birmingham still hasn’t had a White Christmas. It was, however, certainly closer than in previous years when we had to worry about the tumble weeds, the heat index & that pesky cactus sprouting in December.
On New Years Day Alabama had the honor of being placed under Tornado Watches number 1 & 2. Special thanks to Howard Moss KC4QJA & Johnnie Knobloch KJ4OPX who manned K4NWS during the New Years callout. Howard Came in at Midnight & Johnnie came in at 1:30AM & stayed till noon.
Tom & Melissa Overall WX4WIA & WX4WIC also responded to the callout.
Thanks all for your participation & support!
Now for Round Two.
Forecast models are coming together and indicate a major winter weather event Sunday & Monday. It is certain that frozen precipitation will occur. Models differ showing freezing rain, snow or freezing rain and then snow. At any rate accumulations will occur, possibly significant.
If you have plans Sunday that involve travel I strongly urge you to reconsider these plans. If you do choose to travel, pack an emergency survival kit. For you may need it.
A Winter Survival Car Kit should include:
- Jumper cables to restart engine
- Cat litter or sand for tire traction
- Shovel to scrape snow away from tires
- Ice scraper to clear windshield
- Warm clothes gloves, a hat, sturdy boots, warm jacket and even a change of clothes
- Blankets to keep warm inside the vehicle
- Flashlights and extra batteries for increased visibility
- First aid kit also pack necessary medications in case you are stuck on the road
- Food pack items containing protein such as nuts and energy bars, or Snickers Bars also canned fruit and a portable can opener are good additions
- Water bring enough for each person in your car and any pets
- AM/FM radio to listen to traffic reports and emergency messages
- Bring a fully charged cell phone if you have one with a list of emergency numbers (don’t forget your phone charger)
- Flares or reflective triangle
- Make sure your gas tank is full
- Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child
If you find yourself stranded, be safe and stay in your car, put on your flashers, tie a bright cloth to the antenna, call for help and wait until it arrives. You don’t want to wander aimlessly seeking shelter, when your car already is a shelter. Even if it got buried in snow (and do remember that this isn’t the Yukon) all you would end up with is a igloo with bucket seats. STAY PUT! A car is a lot easier to find than a freeze dried body.
As this event nears stay tuned to your weather sources & make reasonable preparations. Eighteen loaves of bread & 42 gallons of milk don’t fit that description. Canned food, drinks and such do.
Be prepared to relay reports to the NWS. Usually we don’t have a formal callout, but, we always have the spotterchats.
The NWS will want our reports.
Speaking of chatrooms, there is a strong possibility that the local NWS chat system will soon have a major change in structure. These changes do not indicate that we are handling the chats wrongly, but are designed to make them run more efficiently.
The plans are still being worked out & tweaked.
When we have further details, you will be the first to know.
What lies ahead for ALERT in the next few months?
A brief rundown for the first six months is:
January 8 ALERT Presentation at Walker County Ares (8AM at Red Cross Building In Jasper)
January 11 Regular Meeting / Board of Directors Meeting
February 8 Regular Meeting
March 5 & 6 Birmingham Hamfest / ALERT & NWS table & Skywarn Forum
March 15 Regular Meeting / Nominating Committee Formed/ Board of Directors Meeting
April 12 Regular Meeting / Nominating Committee Report
May 10 Regular Meeting / ALERT Elections
June 14 Regular Meeting / Board of Directors Meeting
July 12 Regular Meeting / New Officers Take Office / Dues Due $$$
January is named for the Roman god Janus, the god of gates and doors, and so openings and beginnings.
January receives more sunlight than December, but the equilibrium between incoming solar heat and the heat radiated into space by the northern snowfields does not peak until late January and early February, six weeks after winter solstice. So the weather continues to cool, with January 8 – 20 being the coldest part of the year.
One of the most tragic outbreaks of cold weather in Alabama occurred January 10-18, 1982, when 20 people died and 300 were injured. 16,000 people were forced into emergency shelters and storm damage totaled 78 million dollars.
At least 5 people perished in the extreme cold of January 19-22, 1985, that rewrote low temperature records over much of Alabama. This storm brought ice accumulations up to one foot in Lauderdale County. Bridges were coated with ice well into Central Alabama and four people were killed in traffic accidents on icy roads.
On Saturday January 19, 2008 Central Alabama enjoyed a rare snowfall, with Trussville getting 0.8 Inch, and Central Alabama getting from 2 to 5 inches from Dallas to Chilton County.
Typically in January there is a 53% chance of up to one inch of snow & a 25% chance of over one inch of snow.
But, you never know when the Big One will hit. Having been a firm believer ever since my days in the Girl Scouts of being “always prepared”, I present “How To Build An Igloo” – just in case…
Barometric pressure is highest in January.
Venus, is now a morning star, rising 3 hours before the Sun & is the brightest of the year at magnitude -4.7 & will reaches its highest point in the sky in 2011 on the 8th, separated 47 angular degrees degrees from the Sun.
Mercury is also a morning star, visible at the lower left of Venus during the first 20 days of the month.
In the evening sky, Jupiter is the brightest “star” at nightfall, in the southwest. The Moon will be near Jupiter on the 9th.
Some say that binoculars should easily reveal blue-green Uranus just above Jupiter during the first week of the month, but, it’s always seems to disappear when I try to find it. I’ll have to escape to the county and try it again.
Elsewhere, Saturn, in Virgo, rises at midnight. While Mars is on the far side of the Sun & lost in its glare.
Earth reached perihelion, its closest point to the Sun, on the 3rd.
January’s Full Moon is “Wolf Moon” in Native American folklore & will occur January 19 at 21:21 UTC.
This month’s meeting will be on January 11 at 7PM at the National Weather Service
Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport.
I hope to see you there.
Mark / WD4NYL