James Spann: Warmer days ahead for Alabama

WARMING TREND: The freezing fog that produced icy bridges and dozens of crashes across the Birmingham metro area earlier today has dissipated; we have a cloudless sky this afternoon with temperatures in the 45- to 50-degree range. Tonight will be clear and cold again; most communities will drop into the 20s early Wednesday morning.

Wednesday will be dry, and the warming trend continues. With a partly to mostly sunny sky, we rise into the mid to upper 50s.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: A deep surface low develops near Dallas Thursday, and south winds will increase across Alabama as the gradient tightens. Temperatures will rise to near 60 degrees, and rain will move into the state Thursday night. This is a fairly dynamic weather system, but thankfully we expect no surface-based instability, and there is no threat of severe storms for the northern two-thirds of the state. And probably no thunder.

We do note the Storm Prediction Center has Mobile and Baldwin counties in a marginal risk (level 1 of 5) for severe storms Thursday night as unstable air from the Gulf could creep up into those two coastal counties.

Rain will continue through Friday as the surface low passes just north of Alabama; the high Friday will be in the 55- to 59-degree range.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Showers will likely linger into Saturday morning across the state, but drier air begins to arrive Saturday afternoon as the rain ends. Sunday will be dry with ample sunshine; highs over the weekend will stay in the mid to upper 50s.

NEXT WEEK: For now the week looks quiet — generally dry with seasonal temperatures.

THIS MORNING’S FREEZING FOG: Temperatures dropped quickly down to the dewpoint across central Alabama, and with a clear sky, light wind and very wet soil conditions, freezing fog started to form. It became very dense by 3-4 a.m. The freezing fog did us in; tiny, supercooled liquid water droplets in freezing fog can create a coating of thin ice instantly on exposed surfaces like bridges and overpasses. Without the fog, most would not have had any problems this morning.

The concept of freezing fog is nothing new. The simple definition is fog that forms with surface temperatures below 32 degrees, much like freezing rain is simply rain that falls in liquid form when the temperature is at or below freezing. The freezing fog brought a huge impact to the Birmingham metro area this morning, with dozens of crashes, some with injuries. The ice was mostly confined to bridges, but some blacktop roads accumulated ice across higher terrain.

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