James Spann: Warm, mostly dry day for Alabama

James Spann forecasts a warm, dry Thursday for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

ANOTHER QUIET DAY: Temperatures will rise into the 78- to 83-degree range across most of Alabama this afternoon with a mix of sun and clouds. We can’t rule out a few showers, but they should be few and far between. The average high for Birmingham on March 19 is 68.

To the west, an upper trough is producing a smorgasbord of weather, including everything from blizzard conditions to strong storms and heavy rain. There is a broad risk of severe thunderstorms from Texas to the Great Lakes, with a couple of enhanced risks (level 3 of 5) included by the Storm Prediction Center.

FRIDAY: The main dynamic support will lift north of Alabama, and thankfully we expect no issues with severe storms as the cold front moves into the state. The sky will be cloudy Friday and there will be periods of rain and a few thunderstorms mainly from noon to midnight ahead of the front. Rain amounts will be one-half inch to 1 inch and the high will be in the 70s.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Cooler, drier air enters north Alabama Saturday; any showers will be confined to the southern quarter of the state. We expect intervals of sun Saturday with a high in the 65- to 70-degree range. Clouds thicken Saturday night, and periods of rain are likely statewide Sunday as the front lifts northward as a warm front in response to a wave to the west. Sunday’s high will be in the 60s, and rain amounts of around one-half inch are likely.

NEXT WEEK: The weather looks pretty quiet through the week with mild to warm afternoons. There could be a day or two with spotty showers, but for now we see no widespread rain. Highs will be mostly in the 70s, but we might see low 80s toward the end of the week. And there are still no signs of any severe thunderstorms or flooding for Alabama for the next seven to 10 days.

FIRST DAY OF SPRING: The vernal equinox comes tonight at 10:49; this is the first official day of spring. It is the earliest that the equinox has occurred nationwide in 124 years. We will have approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness today.

ON THIS DATE IN 2018: An EF-3 tornado tore through Jacksonville, in Calhoun County, heavily damaging the campus of Jacksonville State University. The tornado continued east-southeast and downed many thousands of trees in the Talladega National Forest, areas north of Fruithurst, areas north of Muscadine and to the Georgia state line. The tornado damage path to the Georgia state line was 34.29 miles long. Five other tornadoes touched down across the northern half of Alabama that night, including an EF-2 that moved from near Ashville to Southside.

Large hail produced widespread damage at Cullman; one hailstone there measured 5.38 inches in peak width, weighed 9.8 ounces and had a circumference of 13.75 inches, the largest hailstone on record for the state of Alabama.

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