HOT, DRY PATTERN DEVELOPING: We will mention a chance of isolated showers or thunderstorms this afternoon across north and central Alabama as a weak surface boundary begins to lift northward as a warm front, but most places will be dry. Otherwise, expect a mix of sun and clouds today with a high in the upper 80s. The average high at Birmingham on May 20 is 82.
MAJOR SEVERE WEATHER THREAT TO THE WEST: We have a rare high risk (level 5 of 5) defined today by the Storm Prediction Center over parts of Texas and Oklahoma, surrounded by a moderate risk (level 4 of 5) that includes Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lubbock and Abilene. A few violent, long-track tornadoes are possible in that region this afternoon and tonight.
REST OF THE WEEK: A strong upper high will develop across the Deep South and will bring the hottest weather so far this year. We are forecasting sunny days and fair nights. The high will be close to 90 Tuesday, followed by low 90s Wednesday and Thursday. Mid 90s are very possible Friday as the heat continues to build.
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: Hot, dry weather continues. Expect lots of sunshine Saturday through Monday with highs in the mid 90s; some spots could reach the upper 90s, right at record levels for late May in Alabama. The record high for May 27 (Memorial Day this year) at Birmingham is 98, set in 1962.
HOT SUMMER? Does a hot end to May mean a long, hot, dry summer for Alabama? Well, of course, every summer is hot here. But there is no correlation between near-record heat in May and the weather that follows in June, July and August. We will just have to wait and see.
TROPICS: A disturbance east of the Bahamas has a 60 percent chance of becoming a tropical or subtropical depression within the next 48 hours. If anything develops there, it will move north and then east, and is no threat to land. The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1.
ON THIS DATE IN 2013: A large and extremely powerful EF-5 tornado ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, and adjacent areas, with peak winds estimated at 210 mph, killing 24 people (plus two indirect fatalities) and injuring 212 others. This was the last EF-5 recorded in the U.S., and that part of Oklahoma has a risk of long-track tornadoes today.
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