James Spann: Clearing today in Alabama; next chance of rain over the weekend

James Spann has the midweek forecast for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

DRIER AIR ROLLS IN LATER TODAY: Lingering showers across Alabama this morning will end soon and we expect clearing by midday, with sunshine in full force this afternoon as dry air takes over. The high will be close to 70 degrees; the average high for Oct. 16 at Birmingham is 75.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: These two days will feature delightful autumn weather, with sunny, pleasant days and fair, chilly nights. Early morning lows will be in the 40- to 45-degree range, with 30s for colder spots. The high will be in the upper 60s Thursday, followed by low 70s Friday. We should mention that clouds will return to far south Alabama Friday with rain possible by late afternoon as a tropical system approaches from the Gulf of Mexico.

RAIN RETURNS OVER THE WEEKEND: The weekend will begin with a chance of rain Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. A tropical system will be involved, which makes the confidence in the timing and intensity of the rain rather low at this point. Here are the important points:

  • A tropical low, possibly a depression or storm, is expected to form in the western Gulf of Mexico Thursday, then move quickly up into the central Gulf Coast by Saturday. The behavior of this disturbance will determine our weather for the first half of the weekend.
  • There are still considerable differences in global models; the American Global Forecast System shows a track over southeast Alabama and potentially the heaviest rain east of Alabama. However, the reliable European ECMWF model shows the tropical low moving right up into the Alabama Gulf Coast Saturday with a good soaking for all of the state. Until the system actually forms in the Gulf, the models will struggle.
  • For now, our forecast will call for rain beginning Saturday statewide and continuing Saturday night. The main window for rain for north and central Alabama will come from about 9 a.m. Saturday through 3 a.m. Sunday. This probably will be adjusted as we get closer to the weekend.
  • The amount of rain we see will depend on the intensity of the tropical low. For now, it looks like rain amounts of around 1 inch for north and central Alabama, with 2 inches for the southern counties.
  • The weather improves Sunday with the sky becoming mostly sunny. The high will be in the low 70s Saturday, followed by upper 70s Sunday.

NEXT WEEK: A cold front will bring a band of showers and thunderstorms to Alabama late Monday and Monday night. The storms could be strong, maybe even severe, but it is too early to determine the actual threat level. Most likely the main risk will come from strong straight-line winds with a long line of storms ahead of the front. Cool, dry air returns for the rest of the week.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: Auburn travels to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to take on the Razorbacks Saturday (kickoff at 11 a.m. Central). The sky will be cloudy at times, and there is some risk of a passing shower or thunderstorm during the game. The kickoff temperature will be near 64, rising into the upper 60s by the second half.

Alabama will host Tennessee Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa (kickoff at 8). The sky will be cloudy, and some rain is likely during the game. Temperatures will be in the upper 60s.

UAB hosts Old Dominion Saturday afternoon at Legion Field in Birmingham (kickoff at 3). The sky will be mostly cloudy, and rain could move in during the game. The kickoff temperature will be near 70 degrees, falling back into the upper 60s by the final whistle.

Jacksonville State hosts Southeast Missouri State Saturday (3 p.m. kickoff). The sky will be mostly cloudy; rain is possible. Temperatures will fall from near 70 at kickoff into the upper 60s by the fourth quarter.

ON THIS DATE IN 1999: Hurricane Irene moved across the Florida Keys, producing heavy rainfall, strong winds and high waves. A gust of 102 mph was reported in Big Pine Key.

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