James Spann: Alabama stays warm through Saturday, then storms arrive

MORE RECORDS: Here are some 3 p.m. temperatures across Alabama:

  • Demopolis — 84
  • Tuscaloosa — 83 (new record; old record was 80, set in 1980)
  • Montgomery — 82 (ties the record for Feb. 22 set in 1897)
  • Auburn — 82
  • Gadsden — 81
  • Pell City — 81
  • Prattville — 81
  • Birmingham — 79 (two degrees shy of the record for Feb. 22, 81, set in 1897)
  • Anniston — 79 (new record; old record was 75, set in 1980)

The radar is fairly quiet; earlier showers and storms over the Tennessee Valley have pretty much dissipated. The upper ridge, responsible for the record warmth, will actually ease closer to Alabama tomorrow, so it will be very warm and mostly dry, with only isolated showers. The high tomorrow will be very close to 80 degrees.

WEEKEND STORMS: Saturday will be a warm, breezy day with a high close to 80; a few scattered showers are possible. But an organized band of rain and storms will move through late Saturday night into at least Sunday morning. The Storm Prediction Center maintains a slight risk of severe storms for areas west of a line from Huntsville to Blount Springs to Northport to Emelle. A marginal risk has been defined for Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Anniston and Gadsden.

TIMING: Storms should enter northwest Alabama late Saturday night between 10 and midnight, then move slowly to the southeast, reaching places like Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston and Gadsden between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. The main window for stronger storms will come from 10 p.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Sunday.

THREATS: The main issue will be strong straight-line winds over northwest Alabama, although an isolated short-lived tornado or two can’t be ruled out. Storms should slowly weaken as they move deeper into Alabama, and the overall severe weather threat for Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston and Gadsden looks relatively low for now, with limited instability and the better dynamics pulling away to the north. But you have to keep a close eye on storms associated with fronts like this in late February.

RAIN: Rain amounts of 1 to 2 inches are likely, and we can’t totally rule out some flooding issues with the band of rain and storms slowing down Sunday morning.

Sunday will be noticeably cooler; some communities north of Birmingham won’t get out of the 50s.

NEXT WEEK: The European global model suggests we will need to keep a chance of rain in the forecast Monday, but drier air will slip in here for one day on Tuesday. Then, more showers are possible Wednesday and Thursday, followed by even cooler air at the end of the week and into the following weekend.

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