James Spann: Alabama’s eyes remain on the Gulf of Mexico

James Spann has the latest on what’s brewing off the Alabama Gulf Coast from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

EARLY THIS MORNING: We have a dense fog advisory for parts of central Alabama; that fog will dissipate by mid-morning, and today will be very similar to the last few days — warm and humid, with a mix of sun and clouds and scattered, random showers and thunderstorms this afternoon and tonight. The odds of any one spot getting wet are about 1 in 2, and the storms will be slow movers, meaning some places will see heavy amounts of rain. The high today will be in the 80s.

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: For the northern two-thirds of the state, there’s little change Saturday and Sunday — warm, humid, the sun out at times and more scattered showers and thunderstorms. Most of the showers will come during the afternoon and evening hours, but a late-night or morning shower can’t be ruled out completely. Highs will remain in the 80s. But Monday will be breezy, with rain becoming more widespread as a tropical system approaches from the south.

TROPICAL SITUATION: There’s not much change in the thinking. The National Hurricane Center is showing a 90 percent chance of a tropical depression or storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico over the Memorial Day weekend. Using the best blend of tropical models, the system will move to a point near the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Monday as a tropical storm (it will get the name Alberto), then will move slowly northward through east Mississippi early next week.

NORTH/CENTRAL ALABAMA: This scenario will have Alabama on the wet, east side of the system, and we will deal with soaking, tropical rain at times Monday, Tuesday and maybe even into Wednesday. Some flooding is possible, and we can’t rule out an isolated tornado. Rain amounts for places like Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Anniston Monday through Wednesday will be in the 3- to 4-inch range.

THE GULF COAST: For today and tomorrow, we project about 4 to 6 hours of sunshine in the zone from Panama City Beach west to Gulf Shores with scattered showers and storms. Then, wind and rain will be increasing Sunday as the tropical system approaches. Look for windy, wet weather on the coast Sunday, Sunday night and into at least part of the day Monday. Here are the key points if you have a beach trip for the holiday weekend:

  • Rain amounts could exceed 6 inches in spots on the Gulf Coast Sunday and Monday, with flooding likely.
  • The rip current danger will be high all weekend long; red flags are already flying. Stay out of the Gulf. The risk is NOT worth it.
  • Most likely, this will be “Tropical Storm Alberto” as it moves onto the coast Monday. We do not expect the system to reach hurricane strength. Rain/flooding is clearly the big issue, but winds could gust in the 40/45 mph category at times Sunday night and Monday.
  • A few isolated tornadoes will be possible along and east of the circulation center late Sunday into Monday.
  • Weather conditions will improve greatly on the coast Tuesday and on through the rest of the week as the tropical system dissipates inland.
  • There is always going to be some uncertainty involving tropical systems as they tend to have a mind of their own sometimes, so keep an eye out for forecast changes.

When I get the question “should I cancel my trip” to the coast, I remind them that various people have various reasons for going to the beach. I would not hesitate to go if it was me, but I don’t go to swim in the Gulf or soak up the sun. I am there to relax and enjoy some good seafood. Your two “bad” days weatherwise will be Sunday and Monday; otherwise, they will have just the routine scattered summer storms for the next seven days.

REST OF NEXT WEEK: The weather for north and central Alabama will trend drier Thursday and Friday as the tropical system moves north and slowly dissipates.

WEATHER BRAINS: You can listen to our weekly 90-minute netcast any time on the web, or on iTunes. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including meteorologists at ABC 33/40.

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

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