James Spann: Alabama stays mostly dry Saturday, but watch for strong to severe storms Sunday

THIS AFTERNOON: A cold front is just south of Birmingham this afternoon; north of the front temperatures are in the 40s and 50s, but to the south most communities are in the 60s. There are just a few isolated showers over east Alabama; most of the state is dry. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a low in the 40s early Saturday morning.

Saturday should be a fairly quiet day; any showers will be widely spaced, and the high should be in the 60s for the southern two-thirds of the state. North Alabama will be cooler, with a high in the 50s. The sun could break out at times.

SEVERE STORMS POSSIBLE SUNDAY: A deepening surface low will move across north Alabama Sunday, and strong to severe storms will likely form south of the low track.

PLACEMENT: Models are in much better agreement, and it looks for now like the best chance of severe storms will be along and south of I-59, or south of a line from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham to Gadsden.

The Storm Prediction Center has a slight risk (level 2 of 5) defined for this area. The chance of severe weather north of Birmingham is very low Sunday, but soaking rains are likely there.

THREATS: Storms across central and south Alabama Sunday will be capable of producing damaging winds, hail and a few tornadoes.

FLOODING: Rain amounts of 1 to 2 inches are expected Sunday; a few isolated flooding issues could develop during the day with the saturated soil.

Be sure you have a way of hearing warnings Sunday in the event they are needed.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: The Birmingham Iron will host San Antonio Sunday at Legion Field (3 p.m. kickoff). Rain and a few thunderstorms are likely, mainly during the first half of the game. For now it looks like the highest risk of severe storms will be a bit to the south; temperatures will be close to 60 during the first half, falling into the 50s after halftime.

COLD AIR RETURNS: Rain will end Sunday evening, and much colder air will roll into the state. Temperatures will be well below average for the first half of the week. The sky becomes partly sunny Monday, but we won’t get out of the 40s, and a brisk north wind will make it feel colder. Temperatures drop well down into the 20s early Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and some of the colder spots across north Alabama will likely visit the upper teens. Temperatures warm up late in the week, and some rain is possible by Friday.

RAIN UPDATE: Today marks the first day of meteorological spring. Looking back at meteorological winter, Birmingham received 23.96 inches of rain from Dec. 1 through yesterday; the surplus is 10.14 inches. In Huntsville, the total for the three-month period was 30.67 inches, about double the average amount.

FEBRUARY FACT: It was a mild, wet February across Alabama. The Birmingham Airport did not fall below 32 degrees during February, the first time this has happened since records began in Birmingham.

ON THIS DATE IN 2007: An EF-4 tornado slammed into Enterprise in south Alabama. Large sections of the town were severely damaged before the storm with winds of 170 mph hit Enterprise High School during the middle of the school day. Eight students were killed and 50 more were taken to area hospitals. Another resident died in her home, bringing the death toll to nine. A tornado warning was in effect 18 minutes before the storm reached Enterprise.

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