James Spann: Rainy Saturday night will follow dry, mild day

CLOUDS OVER NORTH ALABAMA: The northern half of Alabama has seen a fairly persistent cloud cover today, while the southern counties are enjoying a mostly sunny sky. There is a big temperature spread because of the variable cloud cover; many north Alabama communities are in the 50s, while we are seeing 70s over the southern part of the state. There is nothing on radar, and the weather will stay dry statewide tonight.

TO THE WEST: A complex storm system is producing lots of rain and snow over the western half of the nation today; winter storm warnings are in effect for many areas, as far south as the mountains of northern Arizona.

RAIN RETURNS: The western storm system will bring showers and thunderstorms to Alabama Saturday night, but the day will be dry and mild, with a high around 70 and a generally cloudy sky. The Storm Prediction Center has trimmed the marginal risk (level 1 out of 5) of severe storms in Alabama; it now covers only the northwest corner of the state Saturday night.

The lack of surface-based instability means the severe weather threat is low, but a few storms over northwest Alabama could produce gusty winds Saturday evening as they move into the state. The main window for showers and storms will come from 6 p.m. Saturday through 3 a.m. Sunday; rain amounts should be around one-half inch for most places.

Sunday will be a dry day with a partly to mostly sunny sky; the high will be near 60 degrees.

NEXT WEEK: Monday will be dry and cold; most places across north Alabama will hold in the 40s all day. Dry weather continues Tuesday through Thursday with seasonal temperatures. Showers return on Friday, Dec. 6, but for now it doesn’t look like a big rain event.

IRON BOWL: For the biggest game of the year in Alabama (2:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium), the sky will be partly to mostly cloudy with a kickoff temperature near 70 degrees. Rain arrives well after the completion of the game, generally after midnight in Lee County. South winds during the game will average 7-14 mph.

OTHER FOOTBALL FORECASTS: For high school playoff games tonight, the sky will be clear with temperatures falling through the 50s and no risk of rain.

Saturday, UAB takes on North Texas at Apogee Stadium in Denton, Texas (3 p.m. Central kickoff). Showers are possible during the morning, but by kickoff the sky should be mostly sunny as dry air moves in. Temperatures will be close to 70 at kickoff, falling to near 60 by the final whistle.

ON THIS DATE IN 2016: More than a dozen tornadoes touched down across Alabama; one was an EF-3 that moved through Jackson and DeKalb counties, killing three in a mobile home in the Rosalie community of Jackson County. Six people were injured by the same tornado in Ider.

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