James Spann: Scattered strong storms this afternoon in Alabama

RADAR CHECK: Scattered, slow-moving thunderstorms are over north and east Alabama this afternoon. They are producing heavy rain, gusty winds and some small hail. A flash flood warning is in effect for parts of Lauderdale, Lawrence and Limestone counties in the Tennessee Valley until 5:15 p.m. Away from the storms, the weather is partly sunny and hot, with temperatures in the mid 90s in many places. The scattered storms will fade away once the sun goes down.

REST OF THE WEEK: An upper ridge will keep the weather hot and mostly dry Wednesday through Friday. Any afternoon showers or storms will be few and far between, and afternoon highs will hold in the mid 90s.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: We will mention a chance of widely scattered showers or thunderstorms Saturday, but a decent part of the day should be dry with a mix of sun and clouds. On Sunday, the chance of rain will increase statewide as a tropical wave moves up from the Gulf of Mexico. The high will be close to 90 Saturday, but it drops into the low to mid 80s Sunday because of an increase in clouds and rain.

NEXT WEEK: The chance of rain should remain relatively high Monday and Tuesday as deep tropical moisture is pulled northward into the state, followed by a drier pattern over the latter half of the week. But a tropical system is involved and the forecast could easily change.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: The sky should be mostly clear for the high school games Friday night, with temperatures falling from the mid 80s at kickoff to near 80 by the final whistle.

Saturday, Alabama travels to Columbia to take on South Carolina (2:30 p.m. Central kickoff). The sky will be partly sunny with a kickoff temperature close to 90 degrees, falling back slightly into the upper 80s by the fourth quarter.

Auburn hosts Kent State Saturday evening at Jordan-Hare Stadium (6:30 kickoff). We can’t rule out the risk of a passing shower during the game; otherwise it will be mostly fair with temperatures falling from around 88 at kickoff into the low 80s by the end of the game.

Jacksonville State has a home game Saturday against Eastern Washington (3 p.m. kickoff). A few scattered showers are possible over east Alabama during the game; otherwise expect a mix of sun and clouds with a temperature of 89 degrees at kickoff, falling into the mid 80s by the fourth quarter.

TROPICS: Gabrielle has become post-tropical in the North Atlantic. There are two waves in the lower latitudes across the Atlantic basin — one just off the coast of Africa and another east of the Leeward Islands. For now the National Hurricane Center is giving only a low chance of tropical development here over the next five days.

A wave near the southeast Bahamas is expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico Saturday. From there, it moves into the Gulf Coast Sunday with potential for beneficial rain for parts of the Southeast. While the NHC is giving it only a low chance of development over the next five days, you always have to watch any system in the Gulf of Mexico this time of the year (the climatological peak of the hurricane season).

ON THIS DATE IN 1960: The center of Hurricane Donna passed over the middle of the Florida Keys between 2 and 3 a.m. on this day. Donna was a Category 5 hurricane over the Atlantic and a Category 4 at landfall. This storm caused the deaths of more than 100 in Puerto Rico, 50 in the states and 63 in a jet crash. The plane crash occurred Aug. 29 as a French airliner was attempting to land at Dakar, Senegal, during a “blinding rainstorm.” The storm was likely a tropical disturbance at the time of the crash.

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