The Alabama Climate Report

Brought to you by the Office of the Alabama
Climatologist

Volume 7, Number 3 - December 2016

If we look back in a few years and remember 2016's weather at all, many of us are most likely going to remember the fall drought, when most of the state saw little or no measurable rain for about 70 straight days.

Several stations set records for their least rainfall in September and/or October, especially October. Several other stations might have broken October records if not to Alabama's unfortunate history with drought. When our sample of 25 stations statewide has nine spots where the prior record for least October rainfall is 0.00", it isn't likely those records are ever going to be broken.

We did see five of our 25 stations report 0.00" this October. Four others reported only a trace of rain during the month.

Most of the state would have reported record drought in November — if the month had ended on Nov. 26 or Nov. 27. While several stations recorded not one drop of rain during the first three and a half weeks of November, heavy rain during those last four days brought our statewide "average" for the month up to a relatively normal 2.95". (Still 1.65" below normal for November.)

That drought has been greatly reduced by heavy rain since the last three of four days of November. The average for our stations was slightly wetter than normal in December, although that was certainly not evenly distributed.

Counties near the Gulf coast got some serious rain in December. Fairhope reported a December record 10.05" of rain in December, while two dozen CoCoRAHS volunteers in Baldwin County reported an average of more than 13" for the month.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham says 62 tornadoes hit the state in 2016, which is just one below the 10-year average. All but two of those were small tornadoes — EF2 or smaller. The only tornado associated with fatalities was a Nov. 30 tornado in Jackson and DeKalb counties that killed three people and injured 10.

The New Year roared into the state with a fast-moving storm system that hit Mobile and the surrounding area with remarkable speed and force. And the recent snow, sleet and ice event reminds us how difficult it can be to accurately predict winter weather in Alabama more than four or five hours in advance.

It also is a reminder that if you live in Alabama, you need to be both weather aware and weather prepared. We might make jokes about bread and milk in advance of a snowstorm, but having the right emergency supplies on hand during a severe weather event is a serious matter. More information is available at weather.gov.

- John Christy