James Spann: Showers today, storms Saturday for Alabama

James Spann forecasts rapid changes in Alabama’s weather for the next several days from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

CLOUDS, SHOWERS TODAY: A short wave in the upper atmosphere will bring clouds and showers to our state today; moisture is pretty limited, and rain amounts should be less than one-half inch for most communities. Radar shows showers in progress over the western half of the state at daybreak; they will continue to spread eastward during the day. Today’s high will be around 50 degrees for north and central Alabama. Some places north of Birmingham could hold in the 40s all day. Showers will end early tonight.

FRIDAY: It will be a mostly cloudy day with a high in the low 60s and just a small risk of a shower. Most places will be rain-free.

WEEKEND ROLLER COASTER: Saturday will be unseasonably mild, with a high well up in the 60s; some places could actually touch 70 degrees. A vigorous weather system will push rain into the state, and the Storm Prediction Center has introduced a marginal risk of severe thunderstorms for the southern two-thirds of Alabama.

Despite a lack of surface-based instability, dynamic forcing could bring a few strong thunderstorms to our state from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The main threat will come from strong, gusty winds with a line of storms, but an isolated, short-lived tornado or two can’t be ruled out. It is your classic cold season case of strong dynamics but weak thermodynamics. We always have to watch these closely.

Rain amounts of 1 to 2 inches are likely Saturday; for now we are not expecting any serious flooding issues despite the soaking.

The rain moves out of the state Saturday night, and cold, Arctic air rushes in during the pre-dawn hours Sunday. Snow flurries are likely over north Alabama from around midnight Saturday night through mid-morning Sunday, but we expect no accumulation or impact.

Sunday will be a windy and very cold day with a clearing sky; communities across north and central Alabama won’t get out of the 30s, and a strong north wind of 15-25 mph will make it feel colder. By Monday morning we project lows in the 15- to-25 degree range with a clear sky and light wind.

NEXT WEEK: Monday will be a sunny day with a high in the mid to upper 40s; clouds return Tuesday, and we will deal with periods of rain at some point in the Tuesday/Wednesday time frame (model timing agreement is still not very good). Then, more cold air moves down into the state over the latter half of the week.

ON THIS DATE IN 2013: One to 3 inches of snow fell across the northern half of Alabama, with locally higher amounts of 4 to 5 inches also reported. Thundersnow, a very rare occurrance here in the South, was observed with the heaviest snow band as it moved across Tuscaloosa, Walker, Jefferson and St. Clair counties. Road conditions became hazardous in areas where snow fell quickly and heavily. Icy roadways led to numerous traffic accidents in some counties, and travel came to a halt in a few locations.

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