James Spann: Showers, storms for Alabama Wednesday; much colder Thursday

THIS AFTERNOON: Clouds cover much of Alabama this afternoon, and rain continues to fall south of a line from Auburn to Montgomery to Camden. Temperatures over the northern half of the state are mostly in the upper 60s and low 70s; the average high at Birmingham on Oct. 29 is 71.

Rain will spread northward tonight, and Wednesday promises to be fairly wet, with occasional showers and thunderstorms statewide. The latest model data suggests the air will become unstable by afternoon, and a few strong storms are possible over northwest Alabama, where the Storm Prediction Center has a marginal risk (level 1 of 5) defined.

Heavier storms Wednesday afternoon could produce strong, gusty winds, and there is a low risk of an isolated tornado.

HALLOWEEN: Rain is likely Thursday morning, but the rain ends from the northwest during the afternoon. The good news is that the weather looks dry for trick-or-treaters Thursday evening. The bad news is that the weather will be brisk and cold. The coldest air so far season will blow into the state; areas from Birmingham south and east will begin the day around 70, but temperatures will fall quickly during the morning and we will be in the 40s by afternoon with a brisk northwest wind. Some northwest Alabama communities could wind up in the 30s during the evening. Little ghosts and goblins will need to bundle up.

Rain amounts between now and Thursday night will be in the 2- to 3-inch range over the northern half of the state, with 1 to 2 inches for south Alabama.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: Look for sunny, cool days and clear, cold nights. Highs will be 55 to 60, lows well down in the 30s. Colder pockets will see a freeze on a few mornings, and most other places will see lots of frost.

NEXT WEEK: The weather looks dry most of the week; highs return to the low 70s by midweek.

TROPICS: A disturbance in the North Atlantic could become a subtropical storm over the next few days, but it is far from land. The rest of the Atlantic basin is quiet.

ON THIS DATE IN 2012: Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, resulting in more than 70 fatalities and approximately $50 billion in damage.

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