James Spann: Sunny day for Alabama; rain returns Thursday afternoon

James Spann has the midweek forecast for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

BLUE SKY TODAY: We are forecasting another beautiful spring day today for Alabama, with ample sunshine and a high in the low to mid 70s. But on Thursday, clouds will increase during the day and we will forecast a good chance of showers and storms by mid to late afternoon, continuing into Thursday night.

STRONG STORMS? The Storm Prediction Center has defined a low-end, marginal risk (level 1 out of 5) of severe storms for roughly the western half of Alabama, but with limited instability we don’t expect too many issues. Some of the heavier storms could produce small hail and gusty winds Thursday evening over west Alabama, but the better chance of severe storms will be to the west of our state.

Rain will end Friday morning, and most of Friday afternoon and Friday night should be dry. Highs will be in the 70s Thursday and Friday.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Looks like this will be the warmest weekend so far this year; highs will be in the 77- to 80-degree range both days. On Saturday, we will forecast a mix of sun and clouds with potential for a few scattered showers and thunderstorms — no all-day kind of rain, however. Sunday will be warm and humid; the best chance of showers and storms will be late in the day and into Sunday night with the approach of an upper trough. Some of those thunderstorms could be strong; we will keep an eye on severe weather parameters as we get closer to the weekend.

NEXT WEEK: Showers and storms should end Monday morning, and the day will be somewhat cooler, with a high in the low 70s. Most of the state will be dry Tuesday, although we could see a few showers over the Tennessee Valley. A rather robust system will bring storms back into the state Thursday.

ON THIS DATE IN 1974: The 1974 Super Outbreak was underway. It was the second-largest tornado outbreak on record for a single 24-hour period, just behind the 2011 Super Outbreak. It was also the most violent tornado outbreak ever recorded, with 30 F4 or F5 tornadoes confirmed.On April 3-4, 1974, there were 148 tornadoes confirmed in 13 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario. In the United States, tornadoes struck Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and New York. The outbreak caused roughly $843 million in damage, with more than $600 million in damage occurring in the United States. The outbreak extensively damaged approximately 900 square miles along a combined path length of 2,600 miles. At one point, as many as 15 separate tornadoes were on the ground simultaneously.

In Alabama, at least eight tornadoes, including four extremely intense and long-lived storms, brought death and destruction that night. The communities of Guin and Jasper were hit hard. Eighty-six people were killed, 949 were injured and damages exceeded $50 million. Sixteen counties in the northern part of the state were hit the hardest. It ranks as the third-worst tornado outbreak in Alabama history. It is surpassed by the tornado outbreak of March 21, 1932, when more than 300 people died in a series of tornadoes, as well as the historic outbreak of April 27, 2011, when 252 Alabamians lost their lives.

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