James Spann: Rain, storms for Alabama this evening

RADAR CHECK: A large mass of rain, with embedded thunderstorms, continues to advance into west and north Alabama this afternoon. So far we have seen no severe storms associated with this, but a severe thunderstorm watch remains in effect for parts of west Alabama until 7 p.m. A few of the heavier storms could produce hail and gusty winds, but the overall severe weather threat is fading.

Rain will end from west to east tonight, and south Alabama will stay dry.

THURSDAY: Most of the day looks dry and mild with a mix of sun and clouds. Temperatures will likely reach the mid 70s, about 8 to 10 degrees above average for mid-March in Alabama. To the north, however, strong to severe storms will likely form ahead of a cold front over parts of Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee. Some of those storms will drift down into far north Alabama Thursday night, and the Storm Prediction Center has a marginal risk (level 1 of 5) defined for that region. The storms should be weakening, but they still could produce gusty winds and some hail.

FRIDAY: Noticeably cooler air will slip into the northern half of Alabama Friday following the front. Temperatures will likely hold in the low 60s during the day, maybe even dropping into the 50s in spots north of Birmingham. The sky will be cloudy with some light rain at times. This should be our coolest day out of the next 10 days.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Saturday looks mostly dry; we will forecast a partly sunny sky with only an outside risk of a passing shower. The high will be close to 70. On Sunday, the sky will be occasionally cloudy with just a few widely scattered showers. The high Sunday will also be close to 70 degrees.

NEXT WEEK: The pattern continues to favor mild, showery weather through much of the week with highs in the 70s. For now we are not seeing any major severe weather or flooding signals in model output.

ON THIS DATE IN 1963: An EF-4 tornado passed through parts of Cullman County. First reported in the Valley Grove community, it moved northeast through Phelan, Berlin and Fairview. Two people were killed and six injured. About 20 homes and 20 farm buildings were demolished.

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