James Spann: Hot afternoons continue for Alabama; eyes on the Gulf this weekend

James Spann has the Thursday forecast for Alabama and some questions about the weekend from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

STILL HOT: A strong upper ridge is across the Southeast, and that feature will keep Alabama unseasonably hot through Friday, with highs in the mid 90s. The sky will be partly to mostly sunny, and any afternoon showers or thunderstorms should be few in number. The average high for Sept. 12 at Birmingham is 86; the record high is 100, set in 1927.

SATURDAY AND BEYOND: We will bring in a chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms Saturday with a mix of sun and clouds. The odds of any one spot getting wet are about 1 in 3, with most of the showers coming during the afternoon and evening. The high Saturday will be in the 88- to 91-degree range.

Then, Sunday and into early next week, our weather will be determined by the behavior of a tropical system that should be in the northeast Gulf of Mexico within 72 hours. This feature is now an open tropical wave over the southeast Bahamas, and until a low-level center is established and we get dropsonde data into the models from reconnaissance aircraft, there will be great uncertainty. We will forecast an increased chance of rain for Alabama Sunday through Tuesday, and beneficial rain is very possible. But the exact track of the tropical system will determine the amount of rain we see, and we aren’t totally sure we stay on the east, wet side of the system.

We will hold onto the chance of scattered showers and storms over the latter half of next week as a moist air mass remains in place.

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. A few widely scattered showers are possible in the region during the game.

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: A tropical wave over the Atlantic between the coast of Africa and the Lesser Antilles has a medium chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm over the next five days; it is moving west, and it remains to be seen whether this will affect the Gulf of Mexico or the United States.

Invest 95L is over the southeast Bahamas, and the National Hurricane Center gives it a high chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm by the weekend.

If it becomes a tropical storm, the name will be Humberto. Model data suggests this will not reach hurricane strength, but, of course, that is not carved in stone. It has potential to bring beneficial rain to parts of the Southeast by Sunday and early next week, but it remains to be seen where the most widespread rain will fall.

The weather along the Gulf Coast over the weekend will be wet at times thanks to this system; expect periods of rain from Gulf Shores over to Destin and Panama City Beach Saturday and Sunday with dangerous rip currents likely. Weather conditions there should slowly improve by the middle of next week. But I stress it is simply too early to provide an impact forecast for any specific point.

ON THIS DATE IN 1979: Hurricane Frederic made landfall about 10 p.m., passing over Dauphin Island, and crossed the coastline near the Alabama-Mississippi border. A wind gust of 145 mph was measured on equipment atop the Dauphin Island Bridge, which was destroyed. A wind gust of 139 mph was measured at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab before the equipment failed. A storm surge of 12 feet was observed in Gulf Shores. Nearly all structures within 200 yards of the Alabama coast were destroyed. There were two fatalities as a direct result of Frederic. Total damages were $2.3 billion, making Frederic the most expensive hurricane ever to strike the United States to that point. Get more details from NWS Mobile here.

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