James Spann: Alabama dry through Wednesday; strong storms Thursday

James Spann has the Alabama forecast for Tuesday and a heads up on storms later this week from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

NICE WARM-UP TODAY: We are starting the day with temperatures mostly in the 40s early this morning; we project a high in the low 70s this afternoon with a good supply of sunshine. Wednesday will be dry as well; with a mix of sun and clouds we expect a high in the mid 70s.

STRONG/SEVERE STORMS THURSDAY: A very intense surface low will form Wednesday across the Great Plains; models suggest the core pressure could drop to 972 mb over western Kansas by afternoon. This will bring very high wind and blizzard conditions to parts of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, and the risk of strong to severe storms southeast of the surface low in the warm sector.

The low will move up into Iowa Thursday, and the trailing cold front will push into Alabama Thursday evening. Ahead of the front, a band of rain and storms will push into Alabama, and the Storm Prediction Center has introduced a risk of severe thunderstorms for a decent part of the state.

We have a slight risk (level 2 of 5) for areas west of a line from Huntsville to Birmingham to Linden, and a marginal risk (level 1 of 5) as far east as Gadsden, Rockford, Monroeville and Satsuma.

The main limiting factor is instability. There is a chance we have a rain mass move through Thursday morning, which would keep the air stable and mitigate the chance of severe storms later in the day. But if we don’t get much rain during the morning and if the sun can break out at times, instability values could be higher and, accordingly, the chance of severe storms would rise as well.

The 12-hour window for severe thunderstorms Thursday will come from noon to midnight, but the core threat is during the afternoon and evening. Storms will be capable of producing strong, gusty winds and some hail, and an isolated tornado can’t be ruled out.

Rain amounts should be around 1 inch Thursday, and we are not expecting any flooding.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: Rain will end early Friday, and the sky becomes partly sunny by afternoon as drier air returns. Friday will be cooler, with a high in the 60s. Then, the weekend looks dry with cool days and chilly nights. We will drop into the 32- to 36-degree range both Saturday and Sunday mornings with potential for frost and a freeze for colder pockets across north and central Alabama. The high will be in the upper 50s Saturday, followed by low 60s Sunday; the sky will be mostly sunny both days.

NEXT WEEK: For now, the week looks generally dry with seasonal temperatures.

ON THIS DATE IN 1993: The generational “Blizzard of ’93” was underway. All 67 Alabama counties had measurable snow. Winds gusted to nearly hurricane force on ridges with white-out conditions; snow amounts of 1 to 2 feet were common over the northern half of the state, with drifts to 4 feet. There was a lot of eerie green lightning followed by the muffled sound of thunder during the peak of the storm. With the atmosphere overloaded with big snowflakes, part of the sound of thunder was absorbed. Some had no power for more than a week. We forecast 6 to 16 inches of snow going into the event, but many didn’t listen since it was mid-March, the flowers were blooming and the high on March 10, 1993 (two days before the blizzard), was 75.

To the south, between Louisiana and Cuba, hurricane-force winds associated with the system produced high storm surges across the Big Bend of Florida, which, in combination with scattered tornadoes, killed dozens of people.

WEATHER RADIO PROGRAMMING IN JACKSONVILLE: We will be in Jacksonville next Monday night, March 18, programming weather radios. Bring your weather radio and we will check it for you; we will be on the fifth floor of Jacksonville State University Stadium from 4 until 6:30 p.m. I will be there doing weather live on ABC 33/40.

BEACH FORECAST: Click here to see the AlabamaWx Beach Forecast Center page.

WEATHER BRAINS: You can listen to our weekly 90-minute show any time on your favorite podcast app. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including the meteorologists at ABC 33/40.

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For more weather news and information from James Spann and his team, visit AlabamaWx.

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