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Damaging wind and tornadoes possible Saturday

With the weekend approaching, we are getting some clarity in regard to the threat for severe weather Saturday.

Posted: Jan 9, 2020 8:47 PM

There's still a bit of variation in exact arrival times, but model data is generally indicating a line of strong to severe storms reaching the Shoals as early as 10 AM and as late as 1 PM. Those storms track eastward, reaching the I-65 corridor between 1 PM and 3 PM. Sand Mountain can expect storms between 3 PM and 6 PM.

STORM THREATS: Overall, here's how the risk breaks down - damaging straight-line winds are the most widespread concern. Wind easily exceeding 60 mph will be possible along the line of storms. Embedded tornadoes are possible, too. That means the tornado threat exists with the first round of storms (if they can strengthen enough) AND with the main line. Flooding is a concern as well, with a quick one to two inches of rain possible.

BEFORE THE MAIN EVENT: Another threat we're monitoring is the risk for severe storms ahead of the main line mentioned earlier. With plenty of warm, humid air in place, there's the potential for strong, rotating storms in advance of this "main event." This is a risk that must be watched closely because it means the severe threat starts earlier than the aforementioned timeline. While the hail threat is fairly low overall, it would be present (in addition to a tornado threat) with the storms ahead of the line.

HOW TO PREPARE: Friday is your last day to get a plan in place in the event you're placed under severe warnings. Don't wait until the storms are on your doorstep. Make sure your wireless devices are fully charged with an extra power supply on hand. Check the batteries in your weather radio. If you're not already, become familiar with a county map of North Alabama. Know your county and where you are located within than county. Locate the nearest storm shelter and be able to get there quickly. The bottom line: HAVE A PLAN. Remember, you can't rely on outdoor warning sirens to alert you danger - they're only meant to be heard OUTDOORS. You will need AT LEAST one other way to receive warnings.

JUST PLAIN WINDY: Warm, humid air rushing northward away from the Gulf of Mexico will be a contributing factor in fueling severe storms Saturday. It can also cause problems as early as Friday night. A WIND ADVISORY takes effect at midnight Saturday morning and lasts through 9 PM. Wind can gust up to 40 mph. This will be enough to knock down small limbs and potentially cause power outages. With the possibility of power outages BEFORE the storms, it's doubly important to make sure you can get warnings from alternate sources (weather radio, cell phone, etc.)

When severe storms strike, you can livestream continuous coverage at waaytv.com/livestream. Stay tuned for updates to this forecast as Saturday approaches.

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