James Spann: Alabama gets warmer with spotty showers through Thursday

James Spann forecasts above-average temperatures for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

QUIET MARCH PATTERN: While a few showers will show up from time to time, the midweek period looks pretty quiet for much of Alabama as an upper high over the Gulf of Mexico continues to nose into the state from the south. Look for a mix of sun and clouds today and Wednesday with just a few widely scattered showers. Temperatures rise into the mid 70s today; by Wednesday afternoon we will be pretty close to 80. Thursday will be mostly dry, and most likely it will be the warmest day so far this year, with a high in the low to mid 80s. The record high for Birmingham on March 19 is 89, set in 1982. That’s not in danger, but we should get within 5 degrees.

The Storm Prediction Center has a risk of severe thunderstorms defined just west of Alabama Thursday, including much of Arkansas and adjacent states.

The good news is that we don’t expect any severe thunderstorms in Alabama on Friday as the system and the associated cold front arrive. But rain is likely Friday, with potential for a thunderstorm or two; rain amounts should be around one-half inch for most communities. The high Friday will be in the 70s.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: The weather will be much cooler for the northern half of the state, with highs between 57 and 62 Saturday and Sunday. The sky will feature more clouds than sun, and we can’t rule out some light rain. The best chance of rain Saturday will be over the southern half of the state, and even there it certainly won’t rain all day. The front will begin to lift northward as a warm front Sunday, so light rain will shift northward, reaching north Alabama by late afternoon or Sunday night.

NEXT WEEK: The upper high over the Gulf of Mexico stays in place, and the overall pattern won’t change too much. The week looks fairly mild and somewhat showery with potential for some rain at times. A weather system will bring potential for a few thunderstorms at some point Monday night or Tuesday, but there is a good bit of model uncertainty about how the system affects Alabama.

ON THIS DATE IN 1990: Showers and thunderstorms associated with a slow-moving cold front produced torrential rains across parts of the Southeast over two days. Flooding claimed the lives of at least 22 people, including 13 in Alabama. Up to 16 inches of rain deluged southern Alabama, with 10.63 inches reported at Mobile in 24 hours. The town of Elba was flooded with 6 to 12 feet of water, causing more than $25 million damage, and total flood damage across Alabama exceeded $100 million. Twenty-six counties in the state were declared disaster areas.

ON THIS DATE IN 1952: The ban on using the word “tornado” issued in 1886 ended. In the 1880s, John P. Finley of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, then handling weather forecasting for the U.S., developed generalized forecasts on days tornadoes were most likely. But in 1886, the Army ended Finley’s program and banned the word “tornado” from forecasts because the harm done by a tornado prediction would eventually be greater than that which results from the tornado itself. The thinking was that people would be trampled in the panic if they heard a tornado was possible. The ban stayed in place after the Weather Bureau; now, the National Weather Service took over forecasting from the Army. A tornado that wrecked 52 large aircraft at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, on March 20, 1948, spurred Air Force meteorologists to begin working on ways to forecast tornadoes. The Weather Bureau also began looking for ways to improve tornado forecasting and established the Severe Local Storm Warning Center, which is now the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. The ban on the word “tornado” fell on this date when the new center issued its first Tornado Watch.

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