James Spann: Warm day ahead, but a big cool-down is on its way to Alabama

James Spann: Record highs likely again today for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

PLENTY OF RECORDS YESTERDAY: Birmingham’s official high yesterday was 89 degrees. That was a new record high for Oct. 18; the old record was 86, set in 1947. It is our first daily record high during October since 1984. Other record highs across the state included 92 at Montgomery, 90 at Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, and 89 at Anniston.

We are forecasting 88 for Birmingham today. If that verifies, it will tie the record high for Oct. 19, set in 1938. Look for a mix of sun and clouds today, and widely scattered showers are possible. In fact, we see a few small showers on radar early this morning over West Alabama. The chance of any one spot getting wet today is only about 1 in 8.

WE NEED RAIN: Birmingham has gone 30 consecutive days with no measurable rain, and there is a good chance today will be day 31, unless one of the scattered showers passes over Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport, where the records are kept.

We will finally see a decent chance of rain tomorrow afternoon and tomorrow night ahead of a cold front. A few strong storms are possible over the northern quarter of the state, where the Storm Prediction Center has defined a “marginal” severe weather threat. Note that Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston and Gadsden have been removed from that risk.

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The main threats over North Alabama will come from small hail and gusty winds; no tornado problems with weak wind fields.

Unfortunately, rain amounts should be light for most places; generally less than one-half inch. And many communities will see under a tenth of an inch — certainly not enough to make any dent in the drought conditions. South Alabama won’t see any rain at all.

COOL CHANGE: Friday will be a different kind of day: windy and cool. Despite a sunny sky, temperatures won’t get out of the 60s. Highs will be 20 to 25 degrees lower than recent days.

THE WEEKEND: Saturday morning will be cold, with lows between 38 and 43 for most places. Colder valleys and protected areas should see a touch of scattered light frost for the first time this season. Both days will feature sunshine in full supply; the high Saturday will be in the upper 60s, followed by mid 70s Sunday.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: For high school games Friday night, the sky will be mostly clear, and temperatures will be cool, falling through the 50s. You will need a jacket this week.

Alabama will host Texas A&M Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium (2:30 p.m. kickoff). The sky will be sunny; 68 degrees at kickoff, falling into the upper 50s by the final whistle.

Auburn hosts Arkansas at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday evening (5 p.m. kickoff). The sky will be clear, with temperatures falling from near 67 degrees at kickoff into the upper 50s by the end of the game.

RACE WEEKEND AT TALLADEGA: Friday will be breezy and much cooler, with a sunny sky and a high in the mid to upper 60s. Expect a bright, sunny sky Saturday and Sunday with fantastic temperatures; the high Saturday will be close to 68, followed by a high of 75 Sunday. Temperatures will drop to near 40 degrees early Saturday morning at the Superspeedway.

NEXT WEEK: For now it looks dry with sunny days and fair nights. Highs will be in the 70s and lows mostly in the 50s.

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AT THE BEACH: The weather stays dry through most of next week, with sunny days and clear nights. Highs in the 80s today and tomorrow, dropping into the 70s by Friday and the weekend. See a detailed Gulf Coast forecast here.

TROPICS: A disturbance east of the Bahamas has a chance of becoming a tropical or subtropical storm soon, but it will move northward and won’t be an issue for the U.S.

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