By: Kate Bilo
I can honestly say that in all my time studying weather, geeking out over weather, being a severe weather fanatic, I have never quite seen or heard of anything that compares to the utter destruction of yesterday’s tornado outbreak in Alabama, except for perhaps the historic outbreak in 1974 that killed 310 people. However, think about it this way: in 1974, we didn’t have all the advanced technology, the extensive warning systems, the ability to disseminate severe weather information via instant platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Ustream, etc. I think that alone speaks to the fact that yesterday’s outbreak might have been the most devastating in all of US history – because just imagine the death toll and destruction if yesterday’s outbreak had hit in 1974.
The atmosphere yesterday was absolutely textbook for a tornado outbreak. The combination of moisture, heat, the wind profile through the atmosphere – I’ve never seen anything like that on the model soundings. Almost every cell that developed in Alabama was tornadic. My thoughts and prayers are and continue to be with those who experienced this tragedy.
Locally, the same front is advancing through our region today with the risk for severe weather. A squall line has been dumping rain on our Western regions all morning, and now it is poised to move through the metro area this afternoon. The storms have been moving in from the southwest, so their arrival has been a bit delayed. This has allowed the sun to break out in some areas. Don’t be fooled and think the threat is over! In fact, the combination of the sun breaking through, temperatures getting near 80, dew points in the 60s and a brisk southerly breeze could actually enhance our threat for severe weather through the afternoon hours in Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs, New Jersey and Delaware.
The front should clear the coast by this evening (could activate along the sea breeze boundary in coastal New Jersey later on), and then the whole regime changes. Much cooler air will advance into the region via an area of high pressure tomorrow, and highs should top out in the mid-60’s with a chilly wind. A weak surface cold front will slip through in the afternoon, but it shouldn’t bring anything more than a passing shower.
After that, some good weather news. For those of you telling me the summer-like heat earlier this week was just too much too soon (and I agree that yesterday was FAR too muggy for late April!), we will enter into a pattern of beautiful spring weather this weekend – highs in the low-to-mid-70’s both Saturday and Sunday, with lots of sunshine, a pleasant breeze and low humidity. Make those barbecue plans now!
As always, stay with cbsphilly.com for the latest details on today’s storms. You can also follow @cbs3weatherteam on Twitter, or follow me @katebilo for up-to-the-minute updates. I’ll also be posting updates on my Facebook page so add me as a friend!
Stay safe today, guys.