James Spann: Much cooler in Alabama this weekend

QUIET AFTERNOON: We are seeing just a few small, isolated showers over the southern half of the state this afternoon. Otherwise, the sky is partly sunny with temperatures in the 70s over east Alabama and 80s elsewhere.

Thursday will be mostly dry with a warm afternoon; the high will be in the mid 80s for most places.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: The day Friday will be warm and dry, but we will bring in a chance of showers Friday night as a cold front approaches. Saturday looks mostly cloudy and much cooler with showers possible, especially during the morning. At the moment it looks like the best chance of showers will come from about 6 p.m. Friday through 2 p.m. Saturday, and amounts should be around one-quarter inch for most communities. Temperatures over parts of north Alabama could hold in the 50s all day, quite the change from triple-digit heat we dealt with a week ago.

Sunday’s forecast remains a challenge, but models are signaling that moist air could return quickly, meaning some risk of rain as early as Sunday afternoon and Sunday night. We will mention that as a possibility and can fine-tune the forecast as we get closer to the weekend. Many places will drop into the mid to upper 40s early Sunday morning, followed by a high in the 70- to 75-degree range. If we do see rain Sunday afternoon, it most likely will be light.

NEXT WEEK: Some risk of rain will continue early in the week; for the northern half of the state it looks like the best chance of showers will be Tuesday, followed by drier air over the latter half of the week.

TROPICS: A hybrid Atlantic storm (not a true tropical storm) will bring wind and rain to the upper Atlantic coast of the U.S. in coming days; otherwise the tropics are quiet, including the Gulf of Mexico.

RACE WEEKEND AT TALLADEGA: A few showers are possible around the Superspeedway late Friday night or Saturday; rain amounts should be light and spotty. The forecast for Sunday is now a bit uncertain; for now we will forecast a mix of sun and clouds with some risk of light rain during the big race. The high will be in the low 60s Saturday, followed by low 70s Sunday. Sunday morning will be chilly, with lows in the upper 40s.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: For the high school games Friday night, the sky will be mostly cloudy and scattered showers are possible. Temperatures will be in the 70s at kickoff, falling into the 60s by the fourth quarter.

Alabama travels to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies (kickoff at 2:30 p.m. Central Time). The sky will be sunny with a kickoff temperature near 71 degrees.

UAB will also be in Texas Saturday, playing at UTSA (kickoff at 5 p.m. Central Time). Temperatures will fall from near 70 at kickoff through the 60s during the game with a brisk northwest breeze (although the game will be played in a dome). The sky will be mostly fair with no risk of rain.

Jacksonville State will take on Eastern Illinois Saturday (kickoff at noon Central Time) in Charleston, Illinois. The day will be cool and dry, with mid 50s at kickoff; sunshine will be in full supply during the game.

ON THIS DATE IN 2001: An unusually strong fall outbreak of tornadoes spawned at least 23 twisters across parts of Nebraska and Oklahoma. Hardest hit was the town of Cordell, Oklahoma, but a 22-minute lead time led to an amazingly low casualty count: only nine injuries and no fatalities.

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