Hard Freeze for Alabama Tonight: More Arctic Air By Friday

The Chilling Reality: Alabama’s Deep Freeze

Alabama is bracing for an extraordinary wave of Arctic air, leading to a hard freeze that’s predicted to grip the state with unusually low temperatures. This weather event, marked by temperatures dipping into the 5-15 degree range across most of Alabama, is not just a fleeting cold spell but a significant meteorological occurrence that merits close examination and preparation.

The Current Scenario

As of January 16, 2024, northern Alabama is already experiencing sub-freezing temperatures, with some communities in the Tennessee Valley barely out of the teens despite sunny skies​​. The imminent hard freeze tonight is expected to bring temperatures to even lower ranges, potentially dropping to the upper teens even down to the Gulf Coast.

Subsequent days will see a slight rise in temperatures, but the relief will be short-lived as another surge of Arctic air invades the Deep South by Friday.

Implications and Precautions

This hard freeze warning, in effect from Friday, December 23, at 12:00 a.m. until Sunday, December 25, 9:00 a.m., includes a vast swath of counties in Alabama​​. The implications of such extreme cold are multifaceted, affecting everything from infrastructure to personal safety. Residents are advised to take several precautionary steps:

  1. Protect People and Pets: Ensure that everyone, including animals, has access to adequate warmth.
  2. Prevent Pipe Freezing: Pipes should be wrapped, drained, or allowed to drip slowly to prevent bursting due to freezing.
  3. Safe Heating Practices: Space heaters should be used cautiously, maintaining a safe distance from flammable materials and ensuring proper ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  4. Travel Preparedness: Those traveling should carry an emergency supply kit in their vehicles.
  5. Plant Protection: Tender plants should be shielded from the cold.

Weather Trends and Historical Context

This weather pattern is not entirely unprecedented. Alabama’s climatological history shows a range of weather extremes, especially during the winter months. For instance, Birmingham’s coldest day on record was -10°F on February 13, 1899, during a historic cold wave.

On average, February, the middle month of Alabama’s wettest season, witnesses about 4.53 inches of rainfall with an average of 0.1 inches of snow​​.

Looking Ahead

Following this hard freeze, Alabama expects a warming trend with temperatures reaching the 60s over the latter half of the week. However, this period will also bring unsettled weather with a risk of rain from Tuesday through Thursday​​.

Alabama’s weather is a study in contrasts, from sweltering summers to frigid winters. This hard freeze serves as a stark reminder of nature’s unpredictability and the need for preparedness. As residents bundle up against the cold, they can also look forward to the warmer days ahead, a characteristic swing of the Southern climate.