James Spann: Tropical trouble ahead; more showers, storms for Alabama

James Spann has an eye on the Gulf as Alabama approaches the holiday weekend from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

FOGGY START: A dense fog advisory is in effect for most of central Alabama this morning; that should dissipate by mid-morning. Otherwise, today will be partly sunny, very warm and humid with a few scattered storms around this afternoon. The chance of any one spot getting wet today is about 1 in 5; temperatures will rise into the 87- to 90-degree range.

The air will be a bit more unstable tomorrow, so scattered showers and storms should be a little more numerous with a high in the mid 80s. The sun will be out at times.

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: Our weather won’t change much Saturday — warm and humid with a mixture of clouds and sun, along with scattered showers and thunderstorms, most likely during the afternoon and evening. The high will be in the mid 80s. Beyond that, our weather will be determined by the behavior of a tropical system in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

TROPICAL TROUBLE: The National Hurricane Center now has an 80 percent chance of tropical depression or storm development in the Gulf of Mexico over the next five days. We are getting better model agreement on the track placement, but there is still a good bit of uncertainty in the timing.

The American model (GFS) now pushes the tropical system into the Gulf Coast Sunday night, and then into south Alabama Monday. However, the European model (ECMWF) is considerably slower, and moves it slowly northward through Mississippi through the middle of next week. We will side with the slower Euro model for now.

In terms of intensity, this could become Tropical Storm Alberto, but some guidance suggests it remains a tropical depression. On way or another, the main threat will come from rain, and not wind. This will be a fairly lopsided system because of shear, and the heaviest rain will come along and east of the circulation center on the journey northward.

NORTH/CENTRAL ALABAMA: We expect a gradual ramp-up in rain coverage Sunday and Monday as the tropical system approaches from the south, but even on these two days there should be some decent breaks in the rain, and the sun could peek out at times. But the rain could become heavy at times, especially by Monday. Highs will be in the low to mid 80s.

GULF COAST: Here are the key points if you are headed to the Gulf Coast (Gulf Shores east to Panama City Beach) for the Memorial Day weekend:

  • The tropical disturbance won’t become a hurricane, or even a strong tropical storm. The main threat for the Gulf Coast is from rain, and not wind. But no doubt it will be breezy on the coast over the weekend.
  • Saturday should be the “least rainy” day on the coast with a few hours of sunshine likely, but scattered showers and storms will be possible. The coverage of rain will increase Sunday and Monday, but even on these two days there will be breaks in the rain — maybe a glimpse of the sun at times.
  • Dangerous rip currents are likely, and if red flags are flying, stay out of the Gulf. The risk is not worth it.
  • Depending on the strength of the tropical system, a low-end tornado threat could develop somewhere on the coast, but the main issue will be the threat of heavy rain and some flooding. The heaviest rain will be along and east of the point where the lowest pressure comes inland.
  • Click here to see the AlabamaWx Beach Forecast Center page.

Be alert for potential forecast changes as we approach the weekend.

NEXT WEEK: The tropical system will slowly dissipate inland during the week, but moist air will remain and we will hold on to the risk of at least scattered showers and storms through Friday. Highs will be in the 80s.

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

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