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Winter Storm Ulmer Could Reach to the Gulf Coast


As Winter Storm Ulmer hits the Midwest and northeast the next few days, there is a related slight to marginal risk for severe weather across northwest Florida and south Alabama the next couple of days.

Because Ulmer is a storm that got very intense very quickly, it’s being called a “bomb cyclone.” The southern end of Ulmer is projected to come through the area late Thursday evening and early Friday morning, according to Jack Cullen at the National Weather Service in Mobile.

“It’s probably going to bring a thin line of showers, maybe a few thunderstorms,” said Cullen. “At this point, not expecting any severe weather, especially near the coast. All the really strong dynamics of this system are moving well off to our north; so this is going to be a kind of weakening system as it moves in.”

To keep some perspective, Ari Salsari at The Weather Channel lets us know, that things here could be worse.

“We’ve got high wind warnings all over the place; blizzard warnings and this is a remarkably strong storm,” said Ari Salsari at The Weather Channel. “It’s just going to crawl across the Plains and the whole time it’s doing that, we’ve got a serious blizzard going on.”

After the storms – in whatever form – move out of this area, forecaster Jack Cullen says a short round of cooler and drier air will take over.

“Saturday will probably be the upper 50s or low 60s, and night times are going to be knocked down back into the mid-40s, maybe some in the upper 40s,” said Cullen. “I would definitely get out and enjoy this weekend, because I’m not sure how many more of these cool shots we have left before the heat and humidity return.”

The greatest risk for severe weather locally will stretch from coastal counties of Mississippi to the east, to the Florida Panhandle. Damaging straight line winds, large hail and isolated tornadoes will be possible with some of the stronger storms. Cullen says a return to weather normalcy is expected by early next week.

“Once the weekend passes, we’ll be a nice couple of days next week with highs in the mid and upper 60s and lows in the mid and upper 40s.”

Ulmer’s southern tour – and the devastating tornadoes that hit Lee County, Alabama last week – should serve as a reminder that the March-April-May period is perhaps the most turbulent of the year in the South.

“While we’re not expecting any severe weather with this system, it is definitely a reminder to have your severe weather plan in place,” Cullen says. “And know what you would do if a warning is issued for your location.”

Cullen also reminds those heading to the beach, of potentially dangerous conditions across the Gulf Coast over the next couple of days. The surf is expected to climb from 5-7 feet – and that’s dangerous for swimmers of all skill levels.

“We have a high risk of rip currents,” said Cullen. “Anybody – all the spring breakers and locals that are at the beaches definitely want to stay out of the water.”

Look for southerly winds at 10-15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 on Thursday. That can blow around loose, lightweight objects, and could prove hazardous driving conditions for high-profile vehicles.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.