James Spann: Rain returns to Alabama late Friday ahead of cold front

FINE FALL DAY: Temperatures have responded nicely to a strong October sun today with readings in the low 70s for most places at mid-afternoon. Tonight will be clear and not as cold as recent nights; lows will be in the upper 40s tonight and the low 50s early tomorrow.

RAIN RETURNS: Clouds increase tomorrow ahead of a cold front; there is only a small risk of an afternoon shower over the western half of the state. A few scattered showers are possible tomorrow evening between 6 and 9 p.m., mainly over the western half of Alabama, but the most widespread rain will come late tomorrow night into Saturday morning. The window for the most widespread rain comes from 10 p.m. tomorrow through noon Saturday. Rain will linger over east Alabama Saturday afternoon. Rain amounts of one-half to 1 inch are likely.

A few strong storms are possible over southwest Alabama tomorrow night, where the Storm Prediction Center maintains a “marginal risk” of severe storms.

On the latest update, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham have been removed from the marginal risk.

WINTER-LIKE DAY SATURDAY: In addition to the rain, Saturday will be a cold, blustery day, with temperatures settling into the 48- to 51-degree range and holding there through the afternoon, with wind chill index values closer to 40. The average high for Oct. 28 (for Birmingham) is 72. Look for gradual clearing Saturday night, and by early Sunday we drop down into the mid 30s. Frost is not especially likely Sunday morning as the wind will stay up through the night.

Sunday will be a mostly sunny, cool day with a high in the upper 50s.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: For the high school games across north and central Alabama Friday night, we will need to mention the risk of scattered showers over the western half of the state. Stadiums east of I-65 should be dry, with the bulk of the rain holding off until late night. The sky will be cloudy with temperatures falling from the upper 60s at kickoff to near 60 by the final whistle.

The annual Magic City Classic (Alabama State vs Alabama A&M) kicks off Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Legion Field. It will be cloudy, breezy and cold, with temperatures hovering in the upper 40s during the game. Most of the rain should end by kickoff, but some drizzle could linger at times.

UAB plays Southern Mississippi at Hattiesburg Saturday (6 p.m. kickoff). The weather will be breezy and cold, with temperatures falling from 55 at kickoff into the upper 40s by the fourth quarter. Rain over south Mississippi should end well before kickoff.

Jacksonville State will host Southeast Missouri State Saturday (3 p.m. kickoff). It looks like most of the rain will be over by kickoff; otherwise, it will be cloudy, breezy and cold with some drizzle. Temperatures will be in the upper 40s and wind chill index values close to 40 degrees.

FROST/FREEZE THREAT MONDAY MORNING: The wind will be near calm early Monday, and we project lows in the 28- to 34-degree range for most communities along with widespread frost. For some, it will bring the first freeze of the season.

NEXT WEEK: Look for a slow warming trend beginning Monday afternoon, and by midweek highs return to the low 70s. A few showers are possible Wednesday night or Thursday, but nothing heavy or widespread.

TROPICS: A disturbance near the coast of Central America still has a medium chance of becoming a tropical depression over the next few days as it moves northeast; it will merge with a cold front and bring the threat of heavy rain to parts of the upper Atlantic coast of the United States by Sunday/Monday. The rest of the Atlantic basin is quiet.

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