James Spann: Warm through Friday, then a stormy weekend for Alabama

RADAR CHECK: We have a few isolated showers and storms on radar this afternoon over far north and east Alabama. These will dissipate soon after sunset.

Away from the showers, it is a warm day with a mix of sun and clouds; temperatures are in the mid 80s, about 10 degrees above average for mid to late April in Alabama. No records, however — we need to reach the low 90s to tie records for April 19.

Unless an isolated shower forms over the city this evening, today will be the 15th consecutive day without measurable rain at Birmingham.

Tomorrow will be much like today, very warm with only isolated afternoon showers or storms. The chance of any one spot getting wet tomorrow afternoon is only about 1 in 10. Then, we do expect an increase in the number of scattered showers and storms Friday afternoon and evening with the approach of a surface front from the north. The weather stays warm, with a high between 81 and 84 degrees Friday afternoon.

THE WEEKEND: A weather system will bring rain and storms to Alabama, but it won’t rain all weekend. Here is our latest thinking based on new model data:

  • The main window for the heavier storms will come from 5 p.m. Saturday until 3 a.m. Sunday. Light rain could linger through the morning Sunday. But the news is generally good for the daytime events around the state Saturday with the later arrival time.
  • Rain amounts should be in the one-half-inch to 1-inch range; no flooding issues are expected.
  • While forecast shear and instability will support strong, possibly severe storms, it doesn’t look like a “red-letter day” by any means. Heavier storms Saturday night could produce hail and strong, gusty winds; the overall tornado threat, for now, looks fairly low. The Storm Prediction Center has defined a severe weather risk for the northwest corner of the state in its outlook that includes Saturday night.

Remember, we are still a few days away, and this forecast could change, so keep in touch with the latest discussions.

Sunday will be much cooler, with highs only in the low to mid 60s. Some communities across North Alabama could even hold in the 50s all day with a cool north breeze.

NEXT WEEK: Monday morning will be cool, with upper 40s likely; then the rest of the week will be dry, with a warming trend. We reach the 80s again by Thursday and Friday.

PRE-SEASON TROPICAL ACTION: “Subtropical depression one” formed this morning in the eastern Atlantic, west of the Azores. It has top winds of 35 mph, and probably won’t last beyond the next 36 hours.

The subtropical depression is forecast to become absorbed by a large extratropical low tomorrow, and is no threat to land. The hurricane season “officially” begins June 1.

HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX IS THIS WEEKEND: The Honda Indy Grand Prix begins Friday at the beautiful Barber Motorsports Park. Make plans for the event that has been voted “Best Annual Event” and “Best Sporting Event” in Birmingham. Kids 15 and younger are admitted free with a ticketed adult, and three-day general admission tickets are $69. Single-day tickets are $15. Pack a picnic cooler and bring the family out for a weekend full of activities and racing. Get tickets and more information here. The weather news is pretty good; looks like the main risk of rain and storms will be Saturday night, without much impact on races during the daytime Saturday and Sunday. Get the detailed race forecast here.

ALABAMA A DAY: The annual spring game kicks off at 2 Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The latest model data suggests there is a reasonable chance that most of the rain and storms will arrive after 5 p.m., meaning a pretty good chance most of the game will be played with dry conditions. The temperature will be near 80 degrees at kickoff. I will be doing “Drive Home Weather” on the big screens with former Tide star Andre Smith (now with the Cincinnati Bengals). Come see us in the fan zone at the KS Services booth from 11 a.m. until noon.

Click here to see the Beach Forecast Center page.

STORM SPOTTER TRAINING IN JASPER TOMORROW EVENING: The last spotter training event of the year will be held in Jasper Thursday; we will be at the Jasper Civic Center, and the session begins at 6:30. It is free, and there is no need to register. Just come with a curious mind.

WEATHER BRAINS: You can listen to our weekly 90-minute netcast anytime on the web, or on iTunes. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including meteorologists at ABC 33/40.

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For more weather news and information, visit AlabamaWX.

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