James Spann: Warming trend continues in Alabama; storms Saturday morning

WARMING UP: Temperatures are in the 60s over much of west and south Alabama this afternoon as the warming trend continues, but cool air is still over northeast Alabama, where some places have struggled to get out of the 40s. The sky is mostly cloudy, and there is nothing significant on radar at mid-afternoon. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with just a few isolated showers; lows early tomorrow will be in the 50s as warm air advection continues.

FRIDAY/SATURDAY: A vigorous storm system will bring the threat of severe storms to areas west of Alabama on Friday; there is an enhanced risk (level 3 of 5) defined for much of Arkansas and some of the adjacent states. Here in Alabama, occasional showers are likely with a cloudy sky. The high will be in the upper 60s.

Heavier storms will move into Alabama late Friday night, and it now looks like the main window for strong thunderstorms in our state will come from midnight Friday night until noon Saturday. The Storm Prediction Center has a slight risk (level 2 of 5) defined from Birmingham south Saturday, with a marginal risk (level 1 of 5) for areas north of Birmingham.

It still looks like this system will be a bit out of phase; good thermodynamics will become established Saturday afternoon with rising instability values, but by then the main dynamic support will have lifted away to the northeast. Still, there could be a window late Saturday morning when storms could form with gusty winds and small hail. Forecast shear profiles suggest a low-end tornado risk as well. We always have to watch these cool-season systems closely for surprises.

Most of the new model guidance suggests that most of the showers and storms will be over south Alabama by Saturday afternoon, with dry conditions for the northern half of the state. The temperature will be mild, with a high around 70 degrees, and Saturday night will be dry statewide.

SUNDAY: Morning clouds will give way to a partly sunny afternoon, and the high will be up in the low 70s. Any showers should be confined to south Alabama, and even there they should be widely spaced. A cold front could bring some rain to the state late Sunday night or early Monday morning, but global models have greatly backed off on the idea of significant rain with this feature.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: Saturday’s SEC title game between Alabama and Georgia (3 p.m. Central kickoff) will be played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta (in the dome). For those walking to the game, showers and thunderstorms are likely with temperatures in the 60s. The rain will end Saturday evening.

UAB will take on Middle Tennessee State in the C-USA Championship game in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Saturday (12:30 p.m. Central kickoff). The good news is that it now looks like most of the rain will be over by kickoff, with just an outside risk of a lingering shower during the first half. Otherwise, look for a mostly cloudy afternoon with temperatures in the 60s.

Jacksonville State travels to Orono, Maine, to take on the Maine Black Bears Saturday (11 a.m. Central kickoff). The sky will be partly sunny with 29 degrees at kickoff, rising into the mid 30s by the fourth quarter.

NEXT WEEK: Monday will feature a clearing sky, a stiff north wind and potential falling temperatures. Then, the weather looks cold and dry for the rest of the week; there’s a good chance we won’t get out of the 40s Tuesday through Thursday.

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