James Spann: Summer-like day for Alabama

James Spann forecasts a midweek warm-up for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

BIG WARM-UP: For most Alabama communities, today should be the warmest day so far this year. With sunshine in full supply we project a high in the mid 80s this afternoon. So far Birmingham’s warmest day was this past Sunday, April 7, when the high was 82. The weather won’t change much Thursday — still warm and dry, with a partly sunny sky and a high between 82 and 85.

Clouds will increase Thursday night, and a cold front will bring a chance of showers, and possibly a thunderstorm Friday. There won’t be much upper support and moisture will be limited, so we don’t expect any severe storms Friday, and rain amounts should fairly light, mostly less than one-half inch. The high Friday will be in the upper 70s.

STORMY WEEKEND: The boundary will lift northward as a warm front Friday night, and by Saturday morning it should be in Tennessee. The latest guidance suggests a decent part of the day Saturday will be dry, but we can’t rule out a few scattered showers or storms during the afternoon as the air becomes unstable, with temperatures rising into the low and mid 80s.

A dynamic storm system will bring an organized batch of showers and thunderstorms into the state Saturday night and Sunday. A deep surface low, supported by a robust upper trough, will pass just northwest of our state, and with an unstable air mass in place the stage is set for severe thunderstorm potential.

The Storm Prediction Center has much of the state in a severe weather risk in its outlooks for Saturday (which runs through 7 a.m. Sunday) and Sunday.

For now, it looks like the main window for severe storms this weekend in Alabama will come from midnight Saturday night through 3 p.m. Sunday — initially over the western counties late Saturday night, then spreading eastward during the day Sunday.

All modes of severe weather will be possible, including large hail, damaging wind and tornadoes.

It is important to note that this event is still four to five days out, and there is still considerable uncertainty concerning small-scale features, making it difficult to determine the magnitude, timing and placement of the threat. Expect forecast changes as we get closer to the weekend, but one way or another now is a good time to review your family severe weather plan. And every church and house of worship needs to be sure it can hear tornado warnings (having a NOAA Weather Radio), and a good plan to get people into safe places in the event it is in a tornado warning polygon.

NEXT WEEK: The weather will be dry with pleasant days and cool nights Monday through Wednesday; then we could very well be looking at another severe-weather threat Thursday.

ON THIS DATE IN 1979: This day was known as “Terrible Tuesday” to the residents of Wichita Falls, Texas, as a tornado rated EF-4 ripped through the city, killing 43 people and causing $300 million in damage. Another tornado struck Vernon, Texas, killing 11 people. The same weather system would bring severe river flooding to Alabama later in April 1979.

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