Wednesday starts dry with even some sunshine through the late morning. However, by the afternoon clouds quickly overspread North Alabama along with southeast winds picking up to 20-30 mph. This is all ahead of a strong cold front that will sweep through North Alabama in the early morning hours Christmas Eve.
Ahead of the front, widespread rain with a few embedded thunderstorms will develop. This mass of rain is expected to move into the Shoals Wednesday evening and will move through the rest of North Alabama during the overnight hours. Some of the embedded thunderstorms will be capable of producing gusty winds. For that reason, a small portion of our southwestern communities (Franklin, Lawrence, and Morgan Counties) have been added to an Isolated risk for strong storms late Wednesday night and early Christmas Eve morning. While some gusty winds can't be ruled out, the main concern will be heavy rain. If you have any travel plans tomorrow, consider leaving during the morning or early afternoon to beat the rain and storms that arrive tomorrow evening.
As the cold front moves through early Thursday morning, deep Arctic cold air will arrive in its wake. The battle between how fast the cold air moves in and how much moisture is still around will ultimately decide whether or not North Alabama will see any snow Christmas Eve. However, we do believe a brief changeover to snow is possible Christmas Eve morning, especially for northeast Alabama. Even so, we expect minimal impacts to travel at this time. Some data is even indicating a second round of snow showers Thursday afternoon and into the evening hours. Accumulation chances are low but possible for some areas, especially east of I-65.
Besides the snow chance we will be tracking a shot of brutally cold air. Temperatures sink into the 30s Thursday afternoon, with a bitter wind chill making it feel like the 20s. Santa will need to find a way to stay warm Thursday night! Overnight lows fall to the low 20s with wind chills in the teens in many spots. While we will see plenty of sunshine Christmas Day, highs will stay in the 30s with wind chills continuing to remain in the 20s. A modest warming trend returns this weekend before more rain chances arrive Sunday evening.