James Spann: One more mild day for Alabama, then sharply colder

FINE JANUARY DAY: With a good supply of sunshine, temperatures are in the 60s over the northern half of Alabama this afternoon, with a few 70s across the southern counties. Montgomery and Eufaula reported 73 degrees at 3 p.m.

Clouds will increase tonight ahead of a cold front, and that front could squeeze out a few widely scattered showers across north and central Alabama on Tuesday. Moisture will be very limited, and rain amounts will be light and spotty. The weather stays mild Tuesday with a high in the 60s.

COLDER DAYS: Wednesday will be sunny but windy and colder, with a high between 50 and 55; a north wind of 10-20 mph will make it feel colder than that. The wind will die down Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning most communities across the northern half of the state will see a low in the 20s. Thursday and Friday will be cold and dry; the high will be in the 46- to 51-degree range Thursday and close to 50 Friday. We expect sunshine in full supply Thursday, and just a few scattered clouds Friday.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: A wave of low pressure will move across the Gulf states as the weekend begins, and for now Saturday looks cool and wet with periods of rain; the high will be only in the 48- to 52-degree range for north Alabama and 55 to 60 for the southern counties. Sunday will be mostly cloudy and colder, with highs only in the 40s across the northern half of the state; we could see some lingering light rain or drizzle during the morning.

NEXT WEEK: The week looks fairly quiet at this point — generally dry Monday through Wednesday, with some potential for light rain by Thursday or Friday.

ON THIS DATE IN 1988: A major snow storm hit the South; the heaviest snow in Alabama was over the Tennessee Valley, where Huntsville measured 9.6 inches. Storm total accumulations ranged from around 2 inches in the Smith Lake area of southern Cullman County to more than 10 inches in the far northeast corner of Alabama, with the majority of the area seeing more than half a foot. At least a trace of snow remained on the ground in Huntsville for nine days after the snow began, with at least a half foot of snow remaining on the ground for four days. Around a million chickens were killed when the houses they were in collapsed from snow and ice accumulations. An additional quarter million birds survived but were not economically salvageable. Damage to poultry houses were estimated to be more than $15 million in Cullman, Morgan, Marshall, DeKalb and Lawrence counties. This prompted Gov. Guy Hunt to declare a state of emergency for north Alabama.

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