James Spann: One more dry day for Alabama, then some rain

SUNNY JANUARY AFTERNOON: Temperatures are in the 55- to 60-degree range across north and central Alabama this afternoon under a cloudless sky. Tonight will be clear and cold; we drop to near 30 degrees early tomorrow morning. And we will enjoy one more dry day tomorrow with a partly to mostly sunny sky; the high will be at or just above 60 degrees. Clouds increase tomorrow night.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: A wave of low pressure will move through the northern Gulf of Mexico, meaning some rain at times for our state both days. Expect some rain Saturday with a high between 57 and 60 degrees. The most widespread rain should come Saturday night into Sunday morning; the rain ends from west to east by the afternoon hours Sunday. Rain amounts over the northern half of the state should be one-half inch or less, with potential for heavier values over south Alabama. Some thunder is possible, but there is no risk of severe thunderstorms with the surface low passing to the south.

NEXT WEEK: The first half of the week looks cold and dry; it looks like we won’t get past the mid 40s Tuesday. Early morning lows will be well down in the 20s early Tuesday and Wednesday morning, with potential for upper teens for colder spots.

A cold front will bring rain back in here Thursday and Thursday night, followed by sharply colder air for Friday and the following weekend, Feb. 2-4. The Global Forecast System hints at some risk of flurries Thursday night as the cold air begins to arrive, but the 12Z European model shows no snow, and ensemble output suggests no real threat of any “winter mischief” for now.

The overall pattern for the first half of February suggests a series of cold fronts that could very well keep temperatures around here, and over much of the eastern U.S., below average. Of course, there’s no skill in a specific forecast beyond 7-10 days.

DROUGHT CONDITIONS CREEPING IN: The new U.S. Drought Monitor data released this morning shows drought conditions creeping higher across Alabama.

Birmingham has received less than 1 inch of rain since the first of the year (0.94), and the total since Dec. 1 is 4.95 inches, which is 3.19 inches below average.

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