James Spann: Severe storms possible in Alabama tonight

THIS AFTERNOON: The sun is breaking through the clouds over Alabama this afternoon, with temperatures generally in the 68- to 72- degree range. Radar is quiet, but it should light up later tonight with a cold front slicing through the state.

The Storm Prediction Center now has much of North and Central Alabama in the standard “slight risk” of severe storms, with a “marginal risk” down to Montgomery.

TIMING: The line of storms will begin to form between 6 and 7 p.m. over Northwest Alabama, reaching Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Gadsden around 8 and Anniston close to 9. The storms will be out of the area by 11 p.m.

THREATS: The main issues will be hail and strong straight-line winds, but models have become more aggressive with helicity values, and we will need to introduce the risk of an isolated tornado or two. Significant Tornado Parameter (STP) values have increased to 2-3 units ahead of the front.

Just be sure you have a way of hearing severe weather warnings tonight in the event they are needed.

TOMORROW/FRIDAY: Much colder air blows into the state tomorrow; the day will be sunny, but breezy and very cool with a high in the 48- to 51-degree range. We drop below freezing by early Friday morning, with a low between 25 and 30 degrees for most communities. Friday will be sunny with a high close to 60.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Another quick warm-up; we expect afternoon highs around 70 degrees both days. Saturday will be mostly dry with a mix of sun and clouds. Any showers should be confined to far North Alabama. Then, on Sunday, the sky will be mostly cloudy, and we will mention scattered showers. But nothing especially heavy or widespread.

NEXT WEEK: The chance rain looks fairly low Monday and Tuesday thanks to a cooler, drier airmass, but rain is a good bet sometime in the Wednesday/Thursday time frame as a potent upper low lifts out of South Texas.

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