James Spann: Classic summer weather ahead for Alabama

RADAR CHECK: There’s no rain over most of Alabama this afternoon. About the only showers on radar at mid-afternoon are over northern Baldwin County, northeast of Mobile. Temperatures are mostly in the 87- to 90-degree range over the northern half of the state, but south Alabama is sizzling; we are seeing mid 90s at Mobile and Dothan. There is still a low-end marginal risk of severe storms (level 1 of 5) for south Alabama through the evening; any storms that form there could be strong, with gusty winds.

REST OF THE WEEK: We will lapse into a very typical summer weather pattern Wednesday through Friday — partly sunny, hot, humid days with a few widely scattered showers or storms possible each afternoon. Highs will be between 88 and 93 degrees.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: No reason to change the forecast — classic late June weather. Expect partly sunny days, fair nights and, again, the risk of random, scattered showers and thunderstorms generally between 2 and 10 p.m. There’s no way of knowing in advance when and where they form. Highs will be between 89 and 93.

NEXT WEEK: Again we will go with a persistence forecast — hot, humid summer weather; partly sunny days, fair nights and the risk of a passing shower or thunderstorm during the afternoon and evening hours; highs mostly in the low 90s and lows mostly in the low 70s. Classic early July weather.

AFRICAN DUST: The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) persists over a decent part of Alabama today. I am afraid many don’t understand this; it isn’t especially common, but then again it isn’t too unusual. From time to time in summer, dry, dusty air from the deserts of Africa is transported in high levels across the Atlantic and the Caribbean, curving up into the Gulf of Mexico. When the SAL creeps into the Deep South, most of the dust is between 5,000 and 20,000 feet, and the main effect is creating very vivid sky scenes at sunrise and sunset.

Some of the dust could filter down to the surface, and air quality today in the Birmingham area is in the yellow zone because of particulates. But we are in the yellow zone most summer days; air quality isn’t affected much by the SAL, which is mostly well off the ground.

The SAL will gradually shift west of Alabama in coming days.

ON THIS DATE IN 1957: Hurricane Audrey moved northward, slowly strengthening until June 26. At that time, a strong upper-level trough led to its acceleration and the hurricane deepened rapidly on its final approach to the Texas-Louisiana border. Audrey became the strongest hurricane on record for June upon landfall, as it reached category four strength. Its acceleration was unanticipated, and despite hurricane warnings in place, 418 people perished in the storm, mainly across southwest Louisiana.

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