The 48 Storm Team is once again tracking a weather maker that looks to bring another round of wintry precipitation back to the Valley. This time our focus and concern is for accumulating ice rather than snow.
The threat of winter weather hazards has led the National Weather Service to issue a Winter Storm Warning from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday. The warning includes all of northern Alabama and southern Tennessee.
Our severe threat with this system remains low this afternoon. That being said, gusty winds of 40-45 mph are possible with any stronger storms.
The bigger concern and potential for more widespread significant impacts with this system is due to freezing rain early Thursday morning.
We may have been in the 70s earlier, but late afternoon temperatures will fall quickly. There could be a spread of 20-30 degrees in temperatures from west to east across the Valley late Wednesday afternoon. We could still be in upper 60s and lower 70s east with temperatures falling into the 40s over northwestern Alabama and southern Tennessee.
The rain changes to freezing rain as surface temperatures drop below 32 after midnight. That conversion happens first in northwestern AL and moves southeast with time overnight. Here is a timeline on when to expect the changeover: Shoals around 1 a.m. HSV Metro around 4 a.m. NE Alabama around 6 a.m. Southern Tennessee between 1-3 a.m.
Freezing rain could be ongoing for several hours in the Valley early Thursday morning. Ice accumulation due to sleet and freezing rain could be more than 0.25” by late Thursday morning.
Any moisture left would become snow mid/late morning Thursday, but all indications are that moisture will be very limited by then. Snow amounts should be minimal, but a trace to an inch of snow can't be ruled out.
The potential exists for significant disruptions to travel due to slick roads Thursday morning, especially on bridges and overpasses. Areas that see more ice could be looking at power outages as well.
This is still a developing system, so it's important to check back throughout the week for more updates.
-Meteorologist David Ernst