James Spann: Dry weather continues for Alabama, with lower heat levels by Thursday

James Spann forecasts a dry week ahead for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

WE NEED RAIN: Birmingham’s rain total for September so far is only 0.56 of an inch, and we have recorded measurable rain on only two days (Sept. 11 and 14). Our last good soaking came on Aug. 26-27, when the two-day total was 2.72 inches. The deficit for the year is 1.98 inches.

Unfortunately, prospects for meaningful rain look very low for at least the next seven days, so drought conditions will intensify over east Alabama and develop over the western side of the state.

The weather will remain hot through Wednesday as a strong upper ridge holds, with highs well up in the 90s. But a “backdoor” cold front will pass through Wednesday evening and bring a 10- to 12-degree temperature drop by Thursday and Friday, when highs go back into the mid to upper 80s.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: No real change; a very dry air mass remains in place, so we expect sunny days and fair nights over the weekend with highs generally between 87 and 90 degrees.

NEXT WEEK: There’s still no sign of rain, at least for the first half of the week. Keep in mind, in terms of climatology, September and October are the two driest months of the year in Alabama. Our average rain at Birmingham (1900-2018) is 3.76 inches for September and only 2.88 inches for October. Having long dry spells this time of the year is not completely unusual.

One more note: As you look at computer model temperature forecasts, you will need to add several degrees to the forecast highs because of the lack of soil moisture.

TROPICS: Hurricane Humberto, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, is just off the southeast coast of the U.S. and will move east/northeast in coming days. It is expected to pass just north of Bermuda Thursday morning before becoming post-tropical in the North Atlantic Friday night.

A disturbance over the western Gulf of Mexico is forecast to move into Texas without development over the next 24 hours. And a wave between the coast of Africa and the Lesser Antilles has a high chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm within the next few days, but it will turn north and head out into the North Atlantic, with no threat to the U.S.

ON THIS DATE IN 2004: At 51 minutes after midnight on Sept. 16, the northern eyewall of powerful Hurricane Ivan moved onto land near Gulf Shores as an upper Category 3 hurricane, bringing with it 130 mph surface winds and a historic storm surge. Preliminary estimates show that the magnitude and extent of the damage and destruction over Baldwin County and Escambia and Santa Rosa counties of northwest Florida likely exceeded that of both Hurricane Frederic (September 1979) and Hurricane Opal (October 1995). Hurricane Ivan was very close to the magnitude of damage and destruction caused by the Hurricane of 1926, which ravaged the aforementioned counties east of Mobile Bay. Hurricane Ivan caused a preliminary total of 13 deaths in Baldwin County, Alabama; Escambia County, Florida, and Santa Rosa County, Florida. Damage was more than $5 billion.

Ivan produced estimated maximum winds of 60 to 80 mph generally southwest of a line from Prattville to Livingston. A few spots may have reached 90 mph in this area. Most other locations across central alabama had estimated maximum wind speeds of 50 to 60 mph, with a few isolated spots reaching 75 mph. Damage was severe well inland; some of the hardest-hit communities were Atmore, Brewton, Evergreen, Monroeville, Camden and Demopolis.

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