James Spann: Showers for Alabama Friday, possible severe storms this weekend

CLOUDS MOVING IN: Clouds will continue to increase across Alabama tonight, and a few showers are possible after midnight as moisture levels continue to rise. Friday will be a mostly cloudy day with a few passing rain showers, but not a washout. The high Friday will be in the 60s as the warming trend continues.

SEVERE STORMS POSSIBLE THIS WEEKEND: A vigorous storm system will impact the southern U.S. over the weekend. Here in Alabama, Saturday will be mild and breezy with a morning shower possible, but the main threat of strong to severe storms will come later in the day and into Saturday night. The prime window for strong to severe storms will come from around noon Saturday through 3 a.m. Sunday. The Storm Prediction Center has a slight risk (level 2 out of 5) of severe storms defined for areas north and west of a line from Jackson to Greenville to Lake Martin to Heflin. A marginal risk (level 1 of 5) is in effect for the rest of the state, with the exception of the southeast corner around Dothan, where no severe storms are expected.

THREATS: Storms Saturday afternoon and Saturday night will be capable of producing large hail and damaging winds. A few tornadoes are also possible, especially along and north of I-59, over north and west Alabama.

RAIN: Rain amounts of 1-2 inches are expected; we don’t expect any major flooding issues, but a few isolated problems are possible in low drainage areas.

SUNDAY: The SPC has defined a risk of severe storms for the southern half of Alabama Sunday; the main threat will come from strong thunderstorm winds and small hail, with only a very low-end tornado threat. Most of the afternoon will be dry for the northern half of Alabama, although the sky will stay mostly cloudy.

CALL TO ACTION: This is the spring tornado season in Alabama; having threats like this is fairly common. But you have to be ready for all of them. Be sure you have a way of hearing warnings. Never rely on an outdoor siren; if that is your main way of getting a warning, you don’t have much hope. Every home needs a NOAA Weather Radio, and be sure WEA (wireless emergency alerts) are enabled on your phone. Know where you are going, and in that safe place have helmets for everyone.

If you live in a mobile home and you are in a tornado warning polygon, you MUST leave and be in a site-built home or structure, or a shelter. Talk about these things with your family and be sure everyone understands the plan.

NEXT WEEK: A few showers are possible Monday as a warm front lifts northward; then, Tuesday looks generally dry and very mild, with a high in the 70s. Another round of strong storms is likely Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night. This could be another setup for severe thunderstorms, but it is too early to call.

DST BEGINS: Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday;  set your clocks forward one hour before you go to bed Saturday night. Sunset in Birmingham Sunday will be at 6:51 p.m.

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