Freezing Rain Takes Aim on Dothan - 12 am Monday Update

By: Oscar Fann WTVY-TV meteorologist
By: Oscar Fann WTVY-TV meteorologist

12 am Monday Update

Latest warnings and advisories:

...WINTER STORM WARNING in effect for the Dothan area south to the Alabama - Florida line until 8am cst Monday...

...ICE STORM WARNING for Alabama counties south of I-20 (Birmingham) extending south to and including Pike and Barbour counties until late afternoon Monday...

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for Covington and Crenshaw counties until 6am cst Monday.

...No winter weather warnings / advisories for the Florida panhandle or for the Georgia counties bordering Florida. GALE WARNING for coastal waters until 6 am cst Monday.

The Mobile National Weather Service has ended its ice storm warnings for its southeastern Mississippi counties and has changed such warnings for its Alabama counties to Winter Weather Advisories.

What we are seeing FOR NOW is a lessening BUT NOT an ending to the freezing rain threat for the Dothan area and neighboring Alabama and Georgia counties.

Critical temperatures will be reached later this early morning, but will there be enough moisture to create icy problems for bridges, overpasses, power lines and branches?

We have to erred on the cautious side for now, so please curtail unnecessary travel until mid morning, or until it becomes evident that the icing threat has ended.

AGAIN, the FREEZING RAIN POTENTIAL STILL EXISTS for the Dothan vicinity.

6pm cst Sunday update...

No significant changes for now..snow continues north of Birmingham...thin band of mixed frozen precipitation across central Alabama between Birningham and Montgomery with rain south.

However, evaporational cooling and warm air aloft will lead to an expanding area of a freezing rain mix across central Alabama later this evening. As we mentioned earlier, maximum icing is expected along a line running east from Demopolis to Selma to just north of Montgomery to Auburn into central Georgia. Roughly 50 miles north and south of that line could also experience significant icing (that includes Crenshaw, Pike and Barbour counties in our area).

The occasional light sleet currently being reported from several areas around Dothan (including the Florida panhandle) does NOT represent an icing problem. Surface temperatures are well above freezing and the sleet is already melting as it reaches the surface.

Again, the THREAT of freezing rain (which WILL freeze upon contact with surface objects - mainly bridges, overpasses, power lines and branches) for the Dothan area is after midnight until mid morning Monday - especially 3am to 7am cst.

4:15pm cst Sunday Update...

Light rain is reaching the ground with occasional melting sleet. Again, this is NOT an icing problem, and no icing on bridges, overpasses, power lines or trees is expected for the Dothan area until after midnight - likely before midnight in Crenshaw, Pike and Barbour counties.

Quick 3pm cst Sunday Update..

As expected the WINTER STORM WATCH has been upgraded to a WINTER STORM WARNING for Houston, Henry, Dale, Coffee, Geneva counties in Alabama; and for Early, Miller, Clay and Quitman counties in Georgia.

No other changes to the information previosly listed below.

More later...

UPDATED 10am cst Sunday...
A few minor adjustments since I first wrote the accompanying weather outlook earlier this morning around 1 am cst...

Currently, radar shows virga (very light precipitation evaporating well before it reaches the ground) to the west and north of Dothan.

However, it looks now like the precipitation will not arrive until this evening for Dothan (sooner to the west, later to the east).

The Birmingham National Weather Service Office has upgraded their WINTER STORM WARNING to an ICE STORM WARNING for their counties south of I-20, which includes Pike and Barbour counties in our area.

This follows my breakdown (see SETUP below) of where freezing rain is most likely (south of Birmingham to just nothwest and north of Dothan). Again, the area (for now) at highest risk from freezing rain is the central part of the state (say 50 miles north and south of a line from Demopolis to Selma to Montgomery to Auburn east into Georgia.

HOWEVER, freezing rain is likely to occur just about anywhere in Alabama Sunday night into Monday morning - including Dothan. The question remains - just how much?

The Mobile National Weather Service which forecasts for Crenshaw and Covington counties in our area plans to upgrade that WINTER STORM WATCH to a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY.

The Tallahassee Natioal Weather service which has forcast responsibility for everyone else in the WTVY-TV area will hold off any changes to the current WINTER STORM WATCH until later this afternoon.

Remember, the forecast (such as the track of the Gulf low) may vary slightly which would alter the forecast, so stay informed.

Otherwise, the following information still applies,

(end of update)

(previous post follows)

A WINTER STORM WARNING is in effect from late Sunday afternoon through Monday morning for north and central Alabama south to and including Pike (Troy, Brundidge) and Barbour (Clayton, Eufaula) counties.

Crenshaw (Luverne, Brantley) and northern Covington (south to Andalusia) counties are likely to be added to this WARNING Sunday morning.

A WINTER STORM WATCH remains in effect for Sunday night through Monday morning for the remaining southern Alabama counties (Houston, Coffee, Dale, Henry and Geneva). Also included in this Watch are the southwestern Georgia counties of Early, Miller, Clay and Quitman.

It is likely that these counties in the Watch also will be upgraded to a WINTER STORM WARNING for the same time period.

A mix of rain with freezing rain is likely for the Dothan area from after midnight Sunday to mid morning Monday.

The question is how much ice potential is there?

There is very cold dry arctic air centered well north of Alabama in the Ohio area.

In addition, a low will move across the northern Gulf throwing moisture into that cold air later Sunday afternoon into late Monday morning. This Gulf low will be south of Dothan late Sunday evening and exit to the east near the Atlantic coast near the Georgia/Florida line by late Monday morning.

Forecasts have shown a trend that enough of that cold, dry air will filter into Alabama and Georgia south to Florida to create frozen precipitation state wide - especially Sunday night into Monday.

If the track of the low moves farther to the south, then Dothan would see more icing potential. If the track of the Gulf low strays slightly northward, then there is less of an icing problem for Dothan.

For now, this appears to be the SETUP:
3-6 inches of mainly snow is favored from north of a line from Birmingham to Atlanta (along I-20);

South of that line to a 2nd line running east from Demopolis to Selma to just north of Montgomery and through Auburn into Georgia will see possibly 2-3 inches of snow mixed with freezing rain. This looks to be a major travel problem area Sunday evening through the day Monday;

The area between that 2nd line south to a 3rd line running east from Luverne to Troy to Eufaula may have a signficant amount of freezing rain as well as small snow acumulations. This area also has the potential to have significant travel problems Sunday evening into midday Monday;

South of the 3rd line to a 4th line running west to east from Opp to Dothan to Blakely in Georgia has the potential for freezing rain and icing but not to the degree areas north of Dothan in central Alabama will encounter.

Monday morning low temperatures for Dothan should be around 32 to 33 degrees.

However, some travel problems are possible in the Dothan area - especially with bridges and overpasses through mid morning Monday;

South of Dothan to the Florida line has the potential for more isolated icing problems.

On Sunday as rain develops late afternoon / evening from the west of Dothan and moves east into this area, there could be some sleet mixed but no icing problems are expected into early Sunday evening).

Only rain is expected for the Florida panhandle and the southwestern Georgia counties bordering Florida with possible thunder near the coast.

The time frame of concern for the Dothan area for a mix of rain and freezing rain would be after midnight Sunday to just after sunrise Monday.

In and around Dothan (and especially northwest and north of Dothan) as mentioned earlier, a primary concern would be icy spots on bridges and overpasses through mid morning Monday. Also, power outages could occur if enough freezing rain coats power lines or tree branches that fall on power lines.

In short, it would not be a good idea to be driving northwest or north of Dothan after 4 pm cst Sunday afternoon.

For Dothan it would not a good idea to be on area roads from after midnight Sunday/Monday though mid morning Monday.

IF YOU HAVE TO TRAVEL at that time, carry a CHARGED cell phone, blankets, fresh water and a working flashlight in case you are stranded.

Monday morning lows will be near freezing for Dothan but below freezing north of Dothan.

IMPORTANT - there may be changes in the forecast so stay informed.


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