James Spann: Stay alert for severe storms in Alabama tonight, Saturday

QUIET AFTERNOON: As expected, the weather is quiet across Alabama this afternoon with little showing up on radar. Temperatures are near 90 degrees, and the sky is partly sunny. The air is becoming very unstable; surface-based CAPE values are now at 6,000 j/kg just northwest of Muscle Shoals. This is “priming the pump” for the severe weather potential tonight.

SEVERE WEATHER THREAT TONIGHT: The Storm Prediction Center maintains an enhanced risk (level 3 out of 5) of severe storms for parts of northwest Alabama, with a slight risk (level 2 of 5) down to Demopolis, Prattville and Roanoke. There is a marginal risk of severe storms as far south as Evergreen and Troy.

Here are the key points for tonight:

  • The primary threat will come from damaging straight-line winds, but an isolated tornado is possible.
  • There is a chance this could bring widespread wind damage, similar to the June 28 derecho event.
  • The highest chance of wind damage will be along and west of I-65, but no doubt we could see severe storms over east Alabama as well.
  • Not everyone will see a thunderstorm tonight.
  • Be sure you can hear warnings, and pay attention to severe thunderstorm warnings.

SATURDAY: We should be in a relative lull Saturday morning and early Saturday afternoon, but additional storms will form late Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. Those could be strong to severe as well, and the SPC has expanded the slight risk (level 2 of 5) to include much of Alabama for this potential.

The main threat with the storms late Saturday and Saturday night will come from strong straight-line winds, but an isolated tornado is possible. These storms will be rather scattered, and some will see no rain at all. The main threat of heavier storms will come from 5 p.m. until midnight. Otherwise, Saturday will be partly sunny with a high in the low 90s.

SUNDAY: There is a marginal risk (level 1out of 5) for southeast Alabama, including places like Dothan and Geneva. Elsewhere, we are forecasting a mix of sun and clouds with a few scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. Sunday’s high will be in the upper 80s.

NEXT WEEK: There will be sufficient moisture and instability for scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and storms each day Monday through Friday; otherwise, look for partly sunny days with highs mostly in the upper 80s, below average for late July.

TROPICS: All remains quiet across the Atlantic basin, and tropical storm formation is not expected through early next week.

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