James Spann: Scattered strong storms for Alabama as we watch Jose, Maria

RADAR CHECK: Showers and strong thunderstorms have become pretty numerous across north and central Alabama this afternoon. Stronger storms are producing lots of lightning, heavy rain and gusty winds as they move east.

Showers will fade away once the sun goes down.

REST OF THE WEEK: Temperatures aloft should be warmer and afternoon showers and storms fewer in number tomorrow through Friday. We expect partly sunny days and fair nights, with highs in the upper 80s. Afternoon showers are certainly possible each day, but they will be widely spaced.

EQUINOX: Fall “officially” arrives Friday afternoon at 3:02 p.m., the time of the autumnal equinox. That is when the sun is directly over the equator; we have approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: No real change as an upper ridge holds. Partly sunny, warm days with highs 85-89, along with widely scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms.

We will roll with a persistence forecast into early next week — highs well up in the 80s with only widely scattered afternoon showers. We do see a sign that the ridge will break down late in the month, opening the door for cooler temperatures as October begins.

HURRICANE MARIA: It remains an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane this afternoon, with sustained winds of 165 mph. It will move across the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico during the next 24 hours.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Dominica
  • St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques
  • Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata

Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph (17 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue through tomorrow night. On the forecast track, the eye of Maria will move over the northeastern
Caribbean Sea today, and then pass near or over the Virgin Islands overnight and Puerto Rico tomorrow.

Maria is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane until it moves near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

It will begin to gain latitude Thursday and is forecast to move northward, east of the Bahamas, this weekend. Confidence is growing that Maria will not directly impact the East Coast of the United States, but that is still not a total certainty at this point.

JOSE: Jose remains a minimal hurricane east of the U.S. Middle Atlantic coast; it will weaken to a tropical storm tomorrow and loop around in the Atlantic well offshore. We are hoping Jose will leave a good weakness in the subtropical ridge, allowing Maria to escape into the open Atlantic, well east of the U.S. Atlantic coast.

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