James Spann: Much colder weather for Alabama Sunday after Saturday showers

NICE WINTER DAY: The sky is mostly sunny across a decent part of Alabama this afternoon, brighter than forecast this morning. Accordingly, temperatures are warmer than forecast. Most places are in the mid 60s; a few spots over west Alabama are close to 70. Clouds will return tonight ahead of a storm system to the west.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: A cold front will slice into the state Saturday. The day will be cloudy and a band of showers will pass through. Rain could enter far northwest Alabama as early as 6-9 a.m., but for the central part of the state most of the rain comes Saturday afternoon. No worries with severe storms this time; there is hardly any surface-based instability, and dynamic support is not especially strong. There probably will be very little thunder, and rain amounts should be less than one-half inch, so no flooding concerns. Temperatures should reach the low 60s before the front arrives.

The sky clears Saturday night, and Sunday will be a bright, sunny day, but noticeably colder. The high Sunday will be in the 46- to 49-degree range. Sunday night will be clear and cold; we drop into the mid 20s by daybreak Monday.

NEXT WEEK: Cold, dry weather continues during the first half of the week with sunny days and clear nights. The high Monday and Tuesday will be in the 40- to 45-degree range, with morning lows well below freezing. Colder pockets across north and central Alabama will dip into the upper teens early Tuesday morning. A warming trend begins Wednesday afternoon as temperatures rise into the low 50s. Clouds increase Thursday, and rain returns to the state Friday. The air will be too warm for any snow or ice concerns and too cool for severe weather programs.

ON THIS DATE IN 2013: One to 3 inches of snow fell across the northern half of Alabama, with locally higher amounts of 4 to 5 inches also reported. Thundersnow, a very rare occurrence here in the South, was observed with the heaviest snow band as it moved across Tuscaloosa, Walker, Jefferson and St Clair counties. Road conditions became hazardous in areas where snow fell quickly and heavily. Icy roadways led to numerous traffic accidents in some counties, and travel came to a halt in a few locations.

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