James Spann: Alabama heat levels drop next week; eyes on Florence

HOT SEPTEMBER AFTERNOON: Many spots have reached the low 90s across Alabama this afternoon with a partly sunny sky. Showers are small and rather isolated; they will fizzle out quickly once the sun goes down.

THE WEEKEND: Tomorrow will be much like today — partly sunny, hot and humid, with only isolated afternoon showers. The high will be at or just over 90 degrees, and the chance of any one spot getting wet is only in the 10-20 percent range. On Sunday, scattered showers and thunderstorms will become more numerous over the northern half of the state as a surface front drifts down into Tennessee. The high Sunday will be in the mid to upper 80s.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: For the high school games tonight, there will be just a small risk of a shower during the first half; otherwise it should be mostly fair and very warm, with temperatures falling though the 80s during the games.

Alabama hosts Arkansas State Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa at Bryant-Denny Stadium (2:30 p.m. kickoff); the sky will be partly to mostly sunny with just a small risk of a shower during the game. It will be a hot and humid day. The kickoff temperature will be close to 90 degrees, falling back into the 80s by the fourth quarter.

Auburn will host Alabama State Saturday evening at Jordan-Hare Stadium (6:30 p.m. kickoff). The sky will be mostly fair with only a slight risk of a shower during the first half. Temperatures will fall from near 86 at kickoff into the upper 70s by the final whistle.

UAB travels to Conway, South Carolina, to take on Coastal Carolina Saturday evening (6 p.m. kickoff). A shower or storm is possible during the first half of the game; otherwise it will be warm and humid, with temperatures falling through the 80s during the game.

NEXT WEEK: Look for rather unsettled weather for the first half of the week, with scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms Monday through Wednesday as the surface front stalls out near the Tennessee border. Highs will be in the low to mid 80s with only a limited amount of sun. Showers should thin out Thursday and Friday.

TROPICS: We are near the climatological peak of the hurricane season, and we have lots of action. In the far eastern Atlantic, two well-organized waves will most likely become Tropical Storms Helene and Isaac within 24 hours. The wave near 35W could become a hurricane threatening the Leeward Islands in four to five days. It’s way to early to know if this one will get into the Gulf or threaten the U.S.

The one to watch is Tropical Storm Florence. Florence for now has winds of 65 mph, but conditions favor strengthening in coming days, and the National Hurricane Center forecasts the system to be a major hurricane off the Southeast U.S. coast by the middle of next week.

Morning model data shows an increasing hurricane threat to the U.S. East Coast next week, but there is no skill in forecasting the exact track or intensity beyond five days, and accordingly the threat for any one point on the coast. Those from Jacksonville to Savannah to Charleston to Cape Hatteras need to monitor the progress of Florence through the weekend and ensure they have their hurricane plans in place.

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