James Spann: Warm in Alabama, with a few scattered showers; all eyes on Jose, Maria

RADAR CHECK: As expected, showers are almost impossible to find across the northern half of Alabama this afternoon. We are seeing just a few isolated showers over the central counties moving to the south; those will dissipate once the sun goes down. Temperatures are well in the 80s, and Tuscaloosa has hit 91 degrees this afternoon. The average high for Sept. 18 (based on data from Birmingham) is 85 degrees.

REST OF THE WEEK: The weather stays warm, with highs mostly in the mid to upper 80s. Showers will remain widely spaced tomorrow, but should show an increase in coverage Wednesday through Friday as moisture levels rise. Still, they will be random and scattered, and mostly during the afternoon and evening hours — pretty typical late summer/early fall weather in Alabama.

EQUINOX: We should note here that fall will “officially” begin Friday afternoon (Sept. 22) at 3:02 p.m., when the sun is directly over the equator.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Not much change. Warm, humid weather continues Saturday and Sunday with some risk of scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs will be mostly in the mid 80s. The Global Forecast System does hint that showers could be fewer in number Sunday, as we get into the subsidence ring of sinking air on the periphery of Hurricane Maria, but there is great uncertainty in that idea.

We will roll with a persistence forecast through at least the first half of next week.

TROPICS: Lee is a weakening tropical depression in the Central Atlantic; it should become a remnant low tonight. Jose and Maria are the issues to talk about today.

JOSE: Jose is now a minimal hurricane with sustained winds of 75 mph about 265 miles east/southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The center will remain offshore, but it will be close enough to bring tropical-storm-force winds to parts of the upper Atlantic coast; a tropical storm warning is in effect for:

  • Watch Hill to Hull
  • Block Island
  • Martha’s Vineyard
  • Nantucket

Jose is expected to lose tropical characteristics late this week as it begins to make a loop east of New England. There is a chance, if the circulation hangs on, it could interact with Hurricane Maria coming up from the south by the weekend or early next week. There’s some potential for the Fujiwhara effect, in which they would orbit cyclonically (counterclockwise) about a point between the two systems.

MARIA: The hurricane has been going through a rapidly deepening phase today. It now is packing sustained winds of 125 mph, a dangerous category 3 hurricane, and could very well be stronger by the time you read this. The eye is only 45 miles east/northeast of Martinique.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Guadeloupe
  • Dominica
  • St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat
  • Martinique
  • St. Lucia
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands

Maria is forecast to pass right over Puerto Rico Wednesday, then moving north of Hispaniola as it begins to gain latitude. It is still too early to know if Maria will impact the East Coast of the United States. Confidence is very high that Maria will not enter the Gulf of Mexico.

BEACH FORECAST: Click here to see the AlabamaWx Beach Forecast Center page.

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For more weather news and information from James Spann and his weather team, visit Alabama Wx.

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