James Spann: Warm weekend ahead for Alabama

James Spann: Warmest weekend so far this year ahead from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

TRENDING DRIER TODAY: Lingering showers across the northern half of Alabama will end this morning, and by afternoon the best chance of rain will shift down into the southern counties of the state, where a few thunderstorms will be possible as well. The sky becomes partly sunny across north and central Alabama this afternoon with a high in the mid 70s.

WARM WEEKEND AHEAD: This will be the warmest weekend so far this year for the Deep South; we project a high between 77 and 80 degrees Saturday, followed by low 80s Sunday. A few widely scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible both days, but a decent part of the weekend will be dry with a mix of sun and clouds. Showers and storms become more numerous Sunday night, and the Storm Prediction Center has defined a severe weather threat for parts of north and west Alabama on its outlook for Sunday, which runs through 7 a.m. Monday.

Some of the storms Sunday night could produce hail and strong, gusty winds; we will be much more specific on Saturday.

NEXT WEEK: Monday will be wet and stormy, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could be strong, possibly severe, but it is too early to define the severe weather threat because of a number of variables that remain uncertain. A few lingering showers are possible Tuesday morning, but the rest of the week, for now, looks dry. This is despite a rather vigorous system passing north of the state; at this point the air looks too dry for any significant chance of thunderstorms.

ON THIS DATE IN 1936: A violent tornado moved through Tupelo, Mississippi, killing 216 — the fourth-deadliest tornado in United States history. Making its way toward Tupelo, the massive tornado killed a family of 13 as their house was swept away, and injured many more before reaching Tupelo’s west side. Retroactively rated EF-5 on the modern Enhanced Fujita scale, it caused total destruction along its path through the Willis Heights neighborhood. Dozens of large and well-built mansions were swept completely away in this area. Although missing the business district, the tornado moved through the residential areas of north Tupelo, destroying many homes and killing whole families. The Gum Pond area of Tupelo was the worst hit. Homes along the pond were swept into the water with their victims. The majority of the bodies were found in Gum Pond, the area which is now Gumtree Park. Among the survivors were 1-year-old Elvis Presley and his mother, Gladys. His father, Vernon, was out of town looking for work at that time.

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