James Spann: Warmer days ahead for Alabama

FINE SPRING DAY: We are seeing just a few high cirrus clouds over Alabama this afternoon; otherwise it is all sunshine with temperatures mostly in the low 70s. Tonight will be clear and cool; the low early Thursday will be in the 48- to 52-degree range for most communities across north and central Alabama.

Thursday and Friday will be dry and warmer; with a sunny sky Thursday we reach the upper 70s, and low 80s are likely by Friday afternoon with a partly sunny sky. South winds will begin to kick up Friday, averaging 15-25 mph in the afternoon, ahead of an approaching storm system.

Severe storms are possible west of Alabama Friday and Friday night; there is an enhanced risk for places like Tyler and Longview, Texas; Little Rock and Fort Smith, Arkansas; and Springfield, Missouri.

SEVERE STORMS POSSIBLE THIS WEEKEND: Confidence in the forecast of rain and storms in Alabama this weekend is very high, but it will be hard to nail down details until we get within 60 hours of the event (and we can get a look at the storms on the convection allowing models). For now the Storm Prediction Center has much of Alabama and Mississippi in a severe weather risk on its “Day 4” outlook, which runs from 7 a.m. Saturday through 7 a.m. Sunday.

TIMING: After a review of the new model data, it looks like the core severe weather threat in Alabama will come from 4 p.m. Saturday through 4 a.m. Sunday. It is important to note that a weakening line of storms will probably enter northwest Alabama Saturday morning, but those should continue to weaken and dissipate. New storms will form to the west over Mississippi by early afternoon, and those will roll through Alabama late Saturday afternoon and Saturday night.

THREATS: Forecast soundings suggest that all modes of severe weather will be possible, including strong, potentially damaging wind, large hail and a few tornadoes. Rain amounts of 1 to 2 inches are possible, meaning there could be some localized flooding.

The storms will exit the state early Sunday morning. Sunday will be mostly cloudy, breezy and much cooler, with temperatures in the 50s during the day. Again, watch for forecast changes as the weekend gets closer.

NEXT WEEK: For now, most of the week looks dry; it will be chilly early Monday and Tuesday morning with potential for lows in the 30s. It seems like the best chance of a more widespread frost will come early Tuesday with a clear sky and light wind; growers will need to keep an eye on the forecast.

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