James Spann: Severe storms possible in Alabama Friday night

RADAR CHECK: We started off the day with a batch of rain and storms this morning over northwest Alabama, but this afternoon the action has shifted over to the eastern counties of the state on the outflow of the morning storms. Most of the rain at midafternoon was east of a line from Anniston to Selma; some places there are seeing heavy amounts of rain.

Showers and storms will settle down later tonight.

SEVERE WEATHER THREAT: Friday will be hot, and a decent part of the day looks dry with a high in the low 90s. A few storms, of course, are always possible during the peak of the heat, but high-resolution models suggest they will be few and far between. This will allow temperatures to rise into the low 90s, and with a rather deep upper trough for July, instability values will rise greatly across the state by evening.

We still expect an organized batch of storms to roll through north and central Alabama Friday night into the pre-dawn hours Saturday. The Storm Prediction Center has expanded the severe weather threat on its outlook for Friday night; we now have an “enhanced risk” (level 3 out of 5) across the Tennessee Valley of far north Alabama, and a “slight risk” (level 2 out of 5) down to Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Anniston. A “marginal risk” (level 1 out of 5) is defined as far south as Thomasville, Greenville and Opelika.

Here is the current thinking:

  • The main window for severe storms will come from 9 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Saturday.
  • The main threat will come from damaging straight-line winds, but an isolated tornado is certainly possible based on the projected wind fields.
  • Be sure and pay attention to warnings, including severe thunderstorm warnings tomorrow night.
  • Forecasting these northwest flow thunderstorm events can be challenging, so look for forecast changes over the next 24 hours.

REST OF THE WEEKEND: Storms will wind down Saturday morning, and a decent part of the midday and afternoon should be dry, although a few isolated showers or storms will be possible. The high Saturday will be close to 90. Then, on Sunday, we are forecasting a mix of sun and clouds with scattered showers and storms; the high will be in the mid to upper 80s.

NEXT WEEK: Temperatures should be below average through the week with highs in the 80s; we will have scattered showers and thunderstorms daily with some sun at times.

TROPICS: Tropical storm formation is not expected across the Atlantic basin, including the Gulf of Mexico, for the next five to seven days.

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