James Spann: Widely scattered showers for Alabama through Thursday

RADAR CHECK: Showers are very widely spaced across Alabama this afternoon. We are seeing a few showers in a band from near Marion to Goodwater to Roanoke at mid-afternoon; they are moving slowly eastward. For the rest of the state, we have a mix of sun and clouds with temperatures mostly in the 70s. Showers will remain isolated tonight; the sky becomes mostly cloudy.

WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY: The weather won’t change much over the next two days. Look for mixed sun and clouds, only widely scattered showers and a warming trend. The high will be in the 77- to 80-degree range Wednesday, followed by low 80s Thursday. For most places, Thursday will be the warmest day so far in 2020. No records, however; Birmingham’s record high for March 19 is 89, set in 1982.

There is a risk of severe thunderstorms west of Alabama Thursday, over Arkansas and the adjacent states.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: Severe storms are not expected to be an issue in Alabama Friday; a cold front will bring rain into the state by midday and afternoon, but the main dynamic support will be lifting away from the region. Rain amounts Friday and Friday night will be around one-half inch for most communities.

On Saturday, cooler air moves into north and central Alabama as the best chance of rain shifts into the southern counties of the state. Areas north of Birmingham could hold in the 50s all day with lingering clouds. On Sunday, the front over south Alabama moves northward as a warm front, and we will mention periods of rain statewide. Still, it won’t be anything really heavy; the high will be in the low 60s for places like Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston and Gadsden.

NEXT WEEK: Looks like any showers during the first half of the week will be widely scattered. The high Monday will be in the upper 60s; then we go back into the 70s through midweek. There are still no signs of any severe weather or flooding for Alabama over the next five to 10 days.

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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