Prepare for the worst but hope for the best - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

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Prepare for the worst but hope for the best


As forecasters, we are challenged with the decision of gauging the severity of possible storms whenever they threaten our area. The certainty with these events vary and are unique each and every time.

Many people are curious as to the anti-climactic development of the anticipated storms we have been calling for all week. As we sit at the tail end of this event, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the worst did not occur. But why so much hype prior to the arrival of the system?

Taking a look at the system in question, we had many factors to consider and plenty of evidence that we were looking at the potential for very powerful storms.

First, the ingredients:

The low pressure system responsible for generating the severe weather threat laid over 1200 miles away over the state of Nebraska. This generated a powerful southern flow into the southern states, bringing in an ample amount of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Significant warming ahead of the slowly moving cold front also made for a very unstable set up which would further enhance storm development. And finally vertical wind shear, the changing of direction and speed, also indicated the formation of "Supercell" Thunderstorms, which are long living storms that can sometimes generate tornados.

Secondly, the history of the storm:

The system we were watching is the same system responsible for over 30 fatalities across six states and posed severe weather threats over much of the country, effecting over 75 million people. Beginning on Sunday, the storms generated caused devastating property damage as well as life threatening conditions in its wake.

Seeing this same system aimed right for the Carolinas with the current ingredients in place, encourages us to anticipate the full strength of the system and initiate concern for the well being and safety of our viewers.

Monday evening into Tuesday morning did see a number of tornado warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings as well as flooding for parts of western North Carolina. After which conditions significantly calmed down and have remained that way ever since.

Cloud cover in advance of the cold front helped to limit the amount of heating that occurred across the Carolinas and northeast Georgia. The lack of significant heating helped to stabilize the atmosphere, which would help to buffer any significant storm development.

Also, off to our south over southern Georgia, Mississippi and the Panhandle of Florida have been experiencing a significant amount of storm development which interrupts the southern flow to the Carolinas. This allows much of the moisture to get sucked up and rained out before ever reaching the upstate.

Though we did experience a brief moment of severe weather across Western North Carolina, many of us can consider ourselves lucky to have "Dodged the bullet" as much of the south is currently in a state of recovery after the devastating storms hit their region this past week.

Though close, we are not completely out of the woods yet. We still are holding on to a chance of rain and a possible thunderstorm into this afternoon. However, Thursday will be the start of a much brighter forecast with the return of sun and pleasant conditions into the weekend.

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