James Spann: Dual threat of flooding, isolated tornadoes for Alabama today

James Spann: Heavy rain today for Alabama, with some tornadoes possible from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

CINDY IS INLAND: Tropical Storm Cindy moved ashore early this morning near the Sabine Pass — the Texas/Louisiana border — well to the west of Alabama. But the impact of the tropical storm extends well to the east, and Cindy is responsible for a fetch of moisture from the deep tropics moving right into our state this morning.

FLOODING POSSIBLE: A flash flood watch is in effect for much of west, central and south Alabama. Additional rain amounts of 2 to 4 inches could easily produce flooding problems. Lowndes, Butler, Crenshaw, Covington and Escambia counties in south Alabama are under flash flood warnings at daybreak; more warnings are likely later today.

There will be breaks in the rain, but when the rain falls, it will be heavy at times through tonight.

TORNADO WATCH: A tornado watch remains in effect until 1 p.m. for much of west, central and southwest Alabama. This watch extends westward into central and south Mississippi.

Storm relative helicity (shear) values will be very high across the western half of Alabama today and tonight, and some cells in feeder bands wrapping around the east side of Cindy will have potential to drop a tornado or two.

It is important to note that tornadoes associated with tropical systems usually are short lived, making it very challenging to provide timely warnings. Often they last only a few minutes, and by the time a warning is disseminated, the tornado has lifted. And, because of the low-topped nature of these convective cells, often we can’t see the low-level circulation clearly on Doppler Radar velocity.

Pay close attention to the weather conditions today, and listen for flash flood and tornado warnings.

TOMORROW: Rain and storms will become more scattered in nature, but Cindy’s remnant low will be near Memphis, and we will still have very high shear values, meaning the threat of isolated tornadoes will continue, mainly for the northern half of the state.

Weather conditions improve over south Alabama and the Gulf Coast region tomorrow, with only scattered showers and tropical downpours. The sun should peek out at times.

THE WEEKEND: A surface front will approach from the north, and we expect scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms Saturday, but it won’t rain all day, and we don’t expect any severe weather issues. Then, drier air finally moves into north Alabama Sunday with few, if any, showers. We expect highs mostly in the mid 80s.

NEXT WEEK: A dry, continental airmass will cover Alabama most of the week, giving us a nice chance to dry out. Mostly sunny, warm days and clear, cool nights, and lower humidity values. There’s a good chance we see lows in the 50s on a few mornings during the first half of the week — very refreshing for June.

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