Severe storms still rolling across Alabama, and this is only the beginning

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A long-duration, high-impact severe weather event in progress across Alabama on Wednesday morning with severe storms continuing to move over the state.

And this is only the beginning of what could be several episodes of severe weather today, according to the National Weather Service.

Strong thunderstorms with large hail continued to roll from across parts of Alabama as of 10 a.m. Wednesday.

However, the activity was starting to clear out from west to east, and the forecasters said it was the beginning of an expected lull before more storms develop this afternoon.

A tornado watch was still in effect from roughly Birmingham southward. It will be in effect until noon:

The National Weather Service offices in both Mobile and Birmingham said they will remove counties from the watch as the worst of the first round of storms passes. However, that’s only to set the stage for another watch later.

Forecasters said computer models are still suggesting storms will redevelop later this afternoon and could become supercells.

Numerous severe thunderstorm warnings had already been issued Wednesday morning as of 10 a.m.

There have been several tornado warnings issued so far today — all in south Alabama. 

The Storm Prediction Center said the risks with these early storms are large hail, damaging wind gusts and a tornado or two.

Large hail has already been reported in many areas — some up to baseball sized.

To make things more complicated, two weather radars were out of order as of Wednesday morning.

The weather service said the radar in Fort Rucker in south Alabama was hit by lightning and would be down for 24 hours. The radar out of Maxwell Air Force Base near Montgomery was also not operational.

The weather service in Birmingham has put out the call to storm spotters in southeast Alabama for additional help with the radars being down.

A warm front was moving quickly northward across the state Wednesday morning, and the air south of it will become more unstable as the day progresses. 

Temperatures were rising quickly south of the front with 70s reported across south-central and south Alabama. The sun was also coming out in spots in south and west Alabama.

The weather service said more storms are likely to develop through the morning — and the main concern will be large hail, although a tornado or two can’t be ruled out.

However, the tornado threat will rise in the next few hours and peak in the afternoon.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has placed a large part of Alabama under a moderate risk of severe weather for today.

A moderate risk means widespread severe weather is likely — including a few strong tornadoes.

The area in Alabama under the moderate risk has grown steadily over the past 24 hours and now includes many of Alabama’s major cities, including (from north to south): Gadsden, Birmingham, Anniston, Talladega, Auburn, Montgomery, Greenville, Troy and Dothan.

The Huntsville area was shifted from the moderate risk area to an enhanced risk earlier this morning.

All of Alabama has some sort of severe weather risk. Areas in west and parts of central Alabama, including Huntsville, Decatur, Tuscaloosa and Mobile, have an enhanced risk, which means numerous severe storms will be possible.

The northwest corner of the state has a slight risk and could face scattered storms.

This setup differs from typical severe weather episodes in Alabama because areas in the eastern part of the state could face the greatest threat.

The weather service said the tornado threat could tick upward starting later this morning before this batch of storms moves into Georgia.

A second round of storms will be possible later this afternoon along a cold front that will move into Alabama from the west.

The greatest tornado threat is still expected to run along and east of Interstate 65 later this afternoon.

The weather service said a few strong, long-track tornadoes will be possible with the afternoon storms.

The worst of the weather was expected to move out of Alabama later tonight, with calmer weather expected for the rest of the week.

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