James Spann: Severe clear for Alabama today; Gulf system brings rain Saturday

James Spann forecasts a picture-perfect day for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

TONS O’ SUN: A very dry air mass covers Alabama this morning, and we are clear and very cool to start the day. Most places are in the 40s over the northern and central counties of the state, but colder pockets are in the 30s. Vic Bell, our Skywatcher at Black Creek, northeast of Gadsden, reported 36 degrees just before daybreak. Today will feature a cloudless sky with a high between 67 and 70 degrees.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: For most of Alabama, Friday will be mostly sunny and pleasant with a high in the low 70s. But clouds will creep up into the southern quarter of the state ahead of a developing tropical system in the Gulf, and some rain is possible there late in the day and Friday night.

The National Hurricane Center is now giving the disturbance in the western Gulf of Mexico a 70% chance of becoming a tropical (or subtropical) depression or storm within the next 48 hours. It will move northeast, coming onshore somewhere over the Florida Panhandle Saturday. With rather harsh upper winds, it is expected to remain well below hurricane strength, and the main impact will be heavy rain and rough surf.

The latest guidance shows a track that keeps a decent part of Alabama on the drier, west side of the system. Most of the rain across Alabama will come over the eastern and southern counties of the state. Areas north and west of Birmingham could see some light rain Saturday, but many communities there will be dry. The heaviest rain, most likely, will come over the southeast part of the state, south and east of Montgomery.

Sunday looks dry statewide as the tropical system moves back out into the Atlantic. The high will be in the upper 60s Saturday, then into the mid to upper 70s Sunday.

NEXT WEEK: A cold front will bring a round of showers and storms to Alabama late Monday and Monday night. The Storm Prediction Center has the southern two-thirds of the state in a severe weather risk on its outlook for Monday.

For now it looks like the main threat will come from strong straight-line winds, but we need to get the tropical system out of here before we can really focus and gather details about this event.

The middle of the week looks dry and pleasant; then another cold front will bring a chance of showers and storms on Friday.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: For the high school games Friday night, dry weather is expected over the northern half of Alabama with temperatures in the 60s. But rain is a good possibility for the southern quarter of Alabama as the tropical low approaches.

Auburn travels to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to take on the Razorbacks Saturday (kickoff at 11 a.m. Central). Showers and thunderstorms are possible during the first half of the game. The kickoff temperature will be close to 64 degrees, rising into the upper 60s by the final whistle.

Alabama will host Tennessee Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa (kickoff at 8). It now looks like the bulk of the rain will remain east of Tuscaloosa, and we are forecasting dry conditions. Temperatures will be in the mid to upper 60s. A little light rain is possible during the day, before the game.

UAB hosts Old Dominion Saturday afternoon at Legion Field in Birmingham (kickoff at 3). The sky will be mostly cloudy, and some light rain is possible 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 1910: A Category 4 hurricane moved north-northeast, passing just east of the Dry Tortugas. The maximum storm surge observed in Key West was 8 feet, with 15-foot waves at what is now Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.

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