James Spann: Alabama stays dry Tuesday; rain by Wednesday night

BLUE SKY: What a delightful December afternoon across Alabama. Sunshine is in full supply with temperatures generally between 57 and 62. Tonight will be clear and chilly; we project a low in the 30- to 38-degree range early Tuesday morning.

Tuesday will be much like today — ample sunshine with highs in the 50s and 60s.

RAIN RETURNS: Clouds gradually return Wednesday ahead of a storm system organizing to the west. Rain will arrive Wednesday night and will continue at times through Thursday. There will be some surface-based instability, so a thunderstorm is possible Thursday, but for now we are not expecting any significant severe weather threat in our state. We will maintain a good chance of rain at times into Friday on the back side of the departing system. Rain amounts from Wednesday night through Friday afternoon should be around 1 inch for much of Alabama.

The high will be close to 60 Wednesday and in the upper 50s Thursday. Friday will be colder, with temperatures hovering between 45 and 50 degrees much of the day.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Our weekend will be dry with pleasant afternoons and cold nights; expect a good supply of sunshine Saturday and Sunday with highs in the 55- to 60-degree range and lows in the 30s. Some of the colder pockets across north Alabama could reach the 20s early Saturday morning.

CHRISTMAS: Some clouds will return to Alabama early next week; it looks like we will have more clouds than sun Monday and Tuesday, but just an outside chance of some scattered light rain over the northern quarter of the state, up around the Tennessee Valley. The high on Christmas afternoon should be in the 50s, right at seasonal averages for late December.

The best chance of a white Christmas will be way up north, especially over the northern Rockies and near the Canadian border.

REST OF NEXT WEEK: It looks like rain will return toward the end of next week, by Thursday or Friday.

ON THIS DATE IN 1983: The temperature at Oklahoma City dropped below freezing. It did not rise above 32 degrees again until New Year’s Eve, setting a record length of subfreezing weather. That same Arctic air mass would push Birmingham’s temperature down to 2 degrees on Christmas morning in 1983.

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