It was nice day for late February. In fact, February 27, 2007 was a sunny day with temperatures in the mid 70's for most of South Alabama.
But it wasn't going to last.
In fact, forecasters were already pointing to March 1, 2007 as a rough day weather wise. The National Weather Service out of Norman, Oklahoma put the entire state on guard for the potential of severe weather just two days later.
ABC 33/40 Chief Meteorologist James Spann issued one of the first warnings to his weather blog followers:
"LOOKING TO THURSDAY: No real change in the thinking for Thursday; SPC has defined a risk of severe weather for all of Alabama now, with the risk extending from Little Rock and Shreveport all the way to the coast of the Carolinas.
Here are some selected severe weather parameters for Birmingham valid Thursday evening around 6:00 p.m...
Surface Based CAPE: 617 j/kg
0 to 3 km Helicity: 655 m2/s2
Surface dewpoint: 63
SWEAT Index: 400
850mb wind: 60 knots
500mb wind: 76 knots
The model runs generally have the surface low somewhere between Des Moines, Iowa and Milwaukee, Wisconsin Thursday afternoon, which is a little far to the north, but we certainly have had big events with a low in that position. One issue is the potential for morning rain and storms on Thursday with a northward moving warm front; if the rain is widespread during the morning hours, often the air can't recover by afternoon for the "big show". That would lessen the chance of a big severe weather event, and there is some hint of morning rain and storms in model output.
But, most all of the severe weather parameters are in place, and we have to mention a chance of severe weather statewide. At this point it looks like the best chance of severe storms will come from about 3:00 p.m. through 10:00 p.m. Large hail, damaging winds, and a few isolated tornadoes will be possible."
While the numbers above are greek to many, the information was clear and to the point. Alabama was going to be in for a long day.
Later that day the forecast started to change slightly with Meteorologist Brian Peters updating the forecast on the weather blog...primarily in the timing of the storms.
" The Storm Prediction Center has outlooked a large area centered on Arkansas for a slight risk of severe weather tomorrow. The slight risk area shifts eastward on Thursday to cover nearly all of the Southeast with the exception of the Florida peninsula.
The timing looks pretty good for us with the main threat of thunderstorms from 10 am Thursday through about 9 pm or so. There is still a concern about how unstable the atmosphere will be. The GFS and NAM MOS values keep dewpoints only into the upper 50s, so CAPE values remain a bit low while the shear or helicity values are up there. This is similar to what happened Saturday evening. I really think that we'll see the atmosphere recover more than what the MOS values are currently showing. With the weather forecast to come through during maximum heating, we'll have to watch small features like where the sun can break through and how well the moisture can recover. While not completely clear cut, it is looking favorable for a bigger event than the last one we had. So stay tuned.
After the front moves through Central Alabama on Thursday, we should clear out though there may still be some lingering cloudiness from the deep low over the Great Lakes. A secondary impulse will deepen the trough on the East Coast, so much colder air won't arrive until Saturday. Saturday and Sunday will remind us that it is still winter with highs only into the 50s. We might even see some moring lows Sunday morning dip into the upper 20s."
While the threat for severe weather laid out for the entire state, the Wiregrass would soon learn just how bad this event was going to be.