James Spann: A few scattered, strong storms in Alabama this afternoon

RADAR CHECK: On this hot September afternoon we have a few slow-moving, random, widely scattered showers and thunderstorms. These will dissipate once the sun goes down. Elsewhere it is a partly sunny day with temperatures mostly in the mid 90s.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: The upper ridge holds, and these two days will be hot and mostly dry with only isolated afternoon showers or storms. We’ll see lots of sunshine, and odds of any one spot getting wet both days are only 10-15%. Highs will be in the mid 90s, almost 10 degrees above average for mid-September.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: We will mention the chance of a few scattered showers and thunderstorms Saturday, but a decent part of the day should be dry with a mix of sun and clouds; the high will be close to 90. Clouds will increase Sunday with showers becoming more widespread as a tropical low approaches the Gulf Coast. Sunday’s high will drop into the mid 80s because of the increase in clouds and rain.

NEXT WEEK: We expect an enhanced chance of rain Monday through Wednesday, but the amount and placement of the heaviest rain axis is impossible to provide now since a tropical system will be involved. Showers should thin out Thursday and Friday; highs will be in the 80s through the week.

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: The National Hurricane Center is now forecasting a 60% chance of a tropical depression or tropical storm developing in the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. If it becomes a storm, the name will be Humberto. For now, guidance generally suggests this will not reach hurricane strength, but this is the climatological peak of the hurricane season, and any system in the Gulf needs to be watched for signs of rapid intensification.

The weekend on the central Gulf Coast looks fairly wet, with lots of clouds and periods of rain from Gulf Shores over to Destin and Panama City Beach. Dangerous rip currents are likely as well. The rain should spread inland Sunday into early next week, and much of Alabama could very well receive beneficial rain from this system. It looks like we will be on the wet, east side of the circulation. But for now this is an open tropical wave, and it is way too early to forecast impact for any specific point along the Gulf Coast, or the amount of rain expected for inland parts of Alabama.

Two other low-latitude waves in the Atlantic between the Lesser Antilles and Africa have only a low chance of development over the next five days.

ON THIS DATE IN 1961: Hurricane Carla made landfall at Port O’Connor, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane. Winds of 170 mph were reported at Port Lavaca and hurricane-force winds occurred in Port Arthur with a 10-foot storm surge at Sabine Pass, Texas. There were 34 fatalities and at least $300 million in losses in Texas alone. Several tornadoes also touched down in Louisiana, causing the destruction of 140 homes and 11 farms and other buildings, and major damage to 231 additional homes and 11 farm and other buildings. Minor to moderate damage was also reported to 748 homes and 75 farm and other buildings. Six deaths and $25 million in losses in Louisiana were attributed to Carla. Heavy rainfall occurred in several other states, especially in Kansas, where flash flooding severely damaged crops and drowned five people. Overall, Carla resulted in 43 fatalities and $325.74 million in losses.

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