WEATHER WEDNESDAY: Our current snow ‘drought’ in central Alabama

Weather Wednesday

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Happy Weather Wednesday, everyone! 

We’re now halfway through January, which means we’re DEEP into the depths of winter. There’s just one problem…where’s the snow?! This is the time of year where we’re supposed to cross our fingers and hope for a snow day, right?

It definitely is! Going back to when our records begin in 1895, in Birmingham on average we receive 1.6” of measurable snowfall per year, and HALF of that on average (0.8”) falls in January.  The keyword here is “measurable.”

Oftentimes, we may SEE snowfall, but surface temperatures may be too warm for the snow to accumulate. Usually, in this case, the snow melts shortly after hitting the ground. You may remember parts of North Alabama saw snowflakes back on Dec. 10, but again…we were just too warm to see any of it stick.

Think back for a second…do you remember the last BIG snowday we had?  If you like snow, it feels like an eternity! As of today, our current snowfall drought 768 days long. That’s 2 years, 1 month, and 7 days since we last saw measurable snowfall in Birmingham. Turning the clock back that amount of time reveals that Alabama is no stranger to BIG snowdays…

December 8, 2017 was a doozy of a snowstorm, on par with the 1993 Storm of the Century! On that day, an abundance of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico along with cold, dry air from Canada mixed to produce heavy, wet snow across all of Central Alabama. Surface temperatures that day were actually NOT outlandishly cold, either some places were even 1 or 2 degrees above freezing when snow began to fall. But, with this particular setup, the amount of lift in the atmosphere plus the abundance of Gulf moisture combined to produce snowfall rates high enough to compensate for this.

When it was all said and done, we were left with over a FOOT of snow in some areas east of Birmingham. That’s HUGE by Alabama standards! Here are some of the snow totals reported from across our region from that day:

OFFICIAL

Birmingham: 4 inches

Shelby County Airport: 5 inches

UNOFFICIAL

Tuscaloosa County: 2-3 inches

Jefferson County: 4-6 inches

Talladega County: 5-10 inches

Calhoun County: 8-12 inches

Clay County: 7-12 inches (one iso. 15-inch report)

Cleburne County: 9-12 inches (two iso. 13-inch reports)

So, for all of you out there thinking we’re NEVER seeing snow again, keep in mind that not that long ago we had enough to build a hefty-sized snowman!

Also, even though it’s now been over two years since then, this is a long way away from being our longest snowfall drought. In the 2000s, we went over 8 years without snowfall in Birmingham (2,962 DAYS, or 8 years, 1 month, 9 days) That snowfall drought extended from January 2000 to March 2008, which still stands as our longest snow drought since 1895!

Currently in the forecast, we don’t have ANY chances for snow over the next seven days, but winter is not over yet.


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