James Spann: Mostly dry weekend ahead for Alabama

RADAR CHECK: Most of the rain in Alabama at mid-afternoon is south of a line from Lafayette to Greenville to Mobile; we have some temporary clearing behind the rain over parts of north and west Alabama. Temperatures are mostly in the 50s; clouds will fill back in statewide tonight with just a few patches of leftover light rain or drizzle.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: First off, we could very well have a significant temperature range across the state Saturday and Sunday. A very cold air mass will be centered over New England, and some of that will drain down the backbone of the Appalachians, setting up a cold air damming pattern. This means east Alabama should be colder; places like Anniston, Gadsden, Heflin and Roanoke will see a high in the 50s, while the western side of the state will be in the 60s both days. There will be some sun over the weekend, but we expect generally cloudy conditions with only a small risk of a shower Saturday and Sunday.

NEXT WEEK: Monday will be mostly cloudy and mild; the high will be in the 67- to 70-degree range with a risk of showers during the day. Rain becomes widespread Monday night and Tuesday as a cold front pushes through the state. There’s a good chance we see falling temperatures Tuesday over the northern half of the state; places like Huntsville and Muscle Shoals will probably wind up in the 40s, while south Alabama will be closer to 70 degrees Tuesday afternoon. Rain amounts of around 1 inch are likely, and while thunderstorms are possible, for now we don’t expect any severe thunderstorms.

Wednesday and Thursday will be dry with mostly sunny, cool days and and fair, cold nights; subfreezing lows are likely both mornings. Clouds return Thursday night, and a widespread rain event is likely Friday into Friday night as a surface low moves into the region from the Gulf of Mexico.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: For tonight’s 5A state championship game in Auburn featuring Oxford and Spanish Fort, the sky will be mostly cloudy with just a small risk of some light rain or drizzle. Temperatures will fall from the low 50s at kickoff into the upper 40s by the final whistle.

Saturday, UAB travels to Boca Raton, Florida, to take on Florida Atlantic in the C-USA conference championship game (kickoff at 12:30 p.m. Central Time). The sky will be sunny with a kickoff temperature near 77 degrees, falling into the low 70s by the fourth quarter.

HURRICANE SEASON WRAP: The 2019 hurricane season ended Nov. 30. Overall, the season featured above-normal activity. Eighteen named storms formed, of which six became hurricanes and three became major hurricanes – category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. This compares to the long-term average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. There were also two tropical depressions that did not reach tropical-storm strength. In terms of Accumulated Cyclone Energy, which measures the combined strength and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes, activity in the Atlantic basin in 2019 was well above the long-term mean.

ON THIS DATE IN 1983: During the early morning, an F3 tornado crossed through Selma. It developed near Alabama Highway 22 west of Selma and moved northeastward for 13 miles. At least 103 structures were damaged or destroyed along the path and 30-40 vehicles at a new car dealership were destroyed. Numerous units at the Rangedale Housing Project in Selma were demolished, where one person was killed. A dormitory at Selma University was struck by the twister; 50 students were occupying the dorm at the time. Seven students suffered minor injuries when the roof and parts of the second floor of their dorm was destroyed. Near the university, West Side Junior High School sustained damage, as well as several homes and a convenience store.

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