James Spann: Windy, colder in Alabama Friday; brighter Saturday

WET: Clouds cover all of Alabama this afternoon with rain, mostly light to moderate, over a decent part of the state. Periods of rain will continue tonight and in the morning as a deepening low-pressure center begins to lift away.

The pressure gradient will become tight across the state on Friday, meaning strong northwest winds of 12-25 mph, with higher gusts. Clouds will linger through the afternoon, and the day will be raw and cold, with temperatures holding in the 40s. The strong northwest winds will make it feel colder. The sky will clear Friday night as drier air returns.

THE WEEKEND: Saturday will be dry day with a good supply of sunshine; we start the day around 30 degrees, followed by a high in the mid 50s. Clouds will increase Saturday night, and Sunday will be a mostly cloudy day. A passing disturbance could squeeze out a few scattered, light rain showers — nothing heavy or widespread. The high Sunday will be in the mid to upper 50s.

CHRISTMAS WEEK: The weather looks mostly dry Monday and Tuesday; we might see a few isolated showers on Christmas Day over south Alabama, but even there odds of getting wet, for now, look small. Afternoon highs will be comfortable, in the upper 50s and low 60s. Communities across the southern part of the state will see mid 60s Tuesday afternoon.

Clouds will increase Wednesday with a few isolated showers possible; then, we will deal with rain and thunderstorms Thursday into Friday with a vigorous storm system in the state. This one could bring strong storms and potential for heavy rain, but it is way too early to be specific.

WINTER SOLSTICE: Winter officially arrives over the northern hemisphere Friday afternoon at 4:23 p.m., when the sun will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. Most can notice the late dawns and early sunsets this time of the year, and the low arc of the sun across the sky each day. Be sure to look at your noontime shadow (when it returns Saturday). Around the time of the December solstice, it’s your longest noontime shadow of the year. We will see an increasing amount of daylight beginning Saturday, which will continue through the summer solstice on June 21, 2019.

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