James Spann: Rain returns to Alabama Sunday, along with cooler air

LATE WINTER WARMTH: Temperatures are close to 80 degrees across north and central Alabama again this afternoon, but the persistent upper air pattern responsible for the warmth is beginning to break down, meaning some big weather changes over the weekend for Alabama.

TOMORROW: The day tomorrow should be warm and breezy, and while a few scattered showers are possible, most of the day will be dry. The high will be in the 76- to 80-degree range with more clouds than sun.

STORMS MOVE IN: The good news is that the Storm Prediction Center continues to trim back the severe weather threat for Alabama late tomorrow night and early Sunday. Now, only the northwest corner of the state is in the slight risk classification; otherwise, there is a marginal risk for the pre-dawn hours Sunday down to I-59 (Tuscaloosa/Birmingham/Gadsden).

A band of strong storms will enter northwest Alabama between midnight and 3 a.m. with potential for strong, gusty winds and some small hail. The tornado threat is very low, but not zero. Those storms will weaken as the best upper support lifts away and the air become more stable, and odds of severe storms in the Tuscaloosa/Birmingham/Anniston/Gadsden area early Sunday morning are fairly low. Still, we will watch radar trends closely since, when it comes to thunderstorms, you expect the unexpected.

SUNDAY: The front will stall out over central Alabama, and rain will continue much of the day over the northern half of the state in the cooler air. Communities north of Birmingham could hold in the 50s all day. Rain amounts of 1-2 inches are likely between midnight Saturday night and midnight Sunday night, and we will have to watch for flooding potential. South of the front, a few strong storms are possible Sunday afternoon over the southern half of the state, where the SPC has a marginal risk in place.

NEXT WEEK: Showers will end Monday morning, and our weather looks dry Monday afternoon through Tuesday. Then, showers return Wednesday as a surface low develops west of the state, and a cold front pushes through early Thursday morning, followed by sharply cooler air.

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