Forecasters on Wednesday stepped up their predictions of severe weather in Alabama, saying that tornadoes, winds up to 60 mph and quarter-sized hail are possible in Anniston and surrounding areas Thursday.
The National Weather Service predicts a wave of storms pushing through northwestern Alabama and arriving in Calhoun and surrounding counties Thursday afternoon.
“The event is primarily focused across central and western Alabama, but you are in the affected area,” said Jason Holmes, a forecaster for the weather service office in Calera.
Holmes said the state could see showers Thursday morning, some of them severe. After a break in those storms, more storms are expected to move through the area in the afternoon, possibly including the supercells associated with tornadoes.
Much of the state — roughly northwest of a line from Gadsden to Tuscaloosa — is at the weather service’s second-highest threat level on Thursday. Calhoun and Talladega counties are at a lesser, “enhanced” threat level.
Storms are expected to arrive at some time between 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday. At least two tornadoes that struck Calhoun County in the past decade — the 2018 Jacksonville storm and a twister from the April 27 outbreak — hit in late evening. Holmes said that’s not unusual, because heating of the air during daylight hours leads to instability that lasts into the night.
“We get a lot of severe weather at night,” he said. “We never want people to think that just because the sun is down we don’t have a chance of severe weather.”
At least 21 tornadoes hit the state last week, with no fatalities. Weather service forecasters warned about the potential for a storm outbreak days in advance.