James Spann: Sun, heat, afternoon storms for Alabama

RADAR CHECK: It’s another classic summer afternoon across Alabama. The day is hot and humid, and we have the usual random array of scattered showers and thunderstorms on radar. Stronger storms are producing frequent lighting and heavy rain, and are moving slowly eastward. They will fade away once the sun goes down. Away from the storms, the sky is partly sunny with temperatures between 90 and 95 degrees.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Not much change. Look for mixed sun and clouds Saturday and Sunday with scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. The chance of any one spot getting wet is about 1 in 3 Saturday and in the 40% to 50% range Sunday. Most of the storms will come from 1 until 9 p.m. Afternoon highs will be the 90- to 95-degree range Saturday and between 88 and 92 Sunday.

NEXT WEEK: We won’t see any change Monday, but showers and storms should be fewer in number on Tuesday and Wednesday because of drier air in the mid levels. Global models (both the GFS and the ECMWF) continue to give a signal of a potential tropical low around the Gulf Coast toward the end of next week. It remains to be seen whether this will actually happen, or whether it will affect Alabama. We will trend toward higher probability of precipitation by Friday, July 12, but there is great uncertainty for now. We will watch model trends closely in coming days.

TROPICS: The Atlantic basin will remain quiet this weekend. Over in the eastern Pacific, Barbara has weakened to a tropical storm and should dissipate before reaching Hawaii early next week.

ON THIS DATE IN 1980: The “More Trees Down” Derecho. A bowing line of thunderstorms producing a derecho formed just east of Omaha, Nebraska, around 10 p.m. CDT on Friday evening, July 4, 1980. The system rushed east at a speed of 55 to 60 mph, reaching eastern Indiana and northwest Ohio by 8 a.m. EDT on Saturday, July 5, and the mid Atlantic coast by early evening. Measured wind gusts exceeded 80 mph at several points along the storm’s track. Six people were killed, and 67 were injured by the derecho’s winds.

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