James Spann: Rain, storms arrive in Alabama later today; cooler Saturday

James Spann forecasts the return of widespread rain to Alabama today from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

RAIN ON THE WAY: A weakening band of showers is over the northwest corner of Alabama early this morning, but most of the state is dry with temperatures in the 60s at daybreak. The sky will be cloudy today with a high in the 70s.

A band of rain and storms will push into the state this afternoon ahead of a cold front; the Storm Prediction Center maintains a low-end, marginal risk (level 1 out of 5) of severe thunderstorms for parts of north and west Alabama.

A few storms could produce strong, gusty winds and small hail, but the overall threat is pretty low as the main dynamic support will be lifting far north of Alabama. There should be no tornadoes, with a unidirectional wind profile. Most of the rain will come from noon to midnight; rain amounts of one-half inch to 1 inch are expected for north and central Alabama.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Cooler, drier air moves into the northern half of the state Saturday. The sky becomes partly sunny with a high in the 60s. A few showers will remain possible over the southern quarter of the state. On Sunday, the surface boundary over south Alabama will lift northward as a warm front, and periods of rain are likely statewide. Temperatures Sunday will hold in the 60s; rain amounts of around one-half inch are likely.

NEXT WEEK: We will hold on to the risk of a few scattered showers Monday; showers are also possible Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night with a fast-moving disturbance. The latter half of the week looks warm and dry with an upper ridge building over the region. We project a high in the mid 80s by Thursday, not far from record levels for late March in Alabama. There’s still no sign of any significant severe weather or flooding for the state over the next seven to 10 days.

ON THIS DATE IN 1948: An F3 tornado tracked through Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, just before 10 p.m., destroying 54 aircraft, including 17 transport planes valued at $500,000 apiece. The total damage amounted to more than $10 million, a record for the state that stood until the massive tornado outbreak of May 3, 1999. Maj. Ernest W. Fawbush and Capt. Robert C. Miller were ordered to see if operationally forecasting tornadoes was possible. The tornado prompted the first attempt at tornado forecasting. Forecasters at Tinker believed conditions were again favorable for tornadoes and issued the first recorded tornado forecast. At 6 p.m. on March 26, a forecast tornado occurred, crossing the prepared base, and the damage was minimized. The successful, albeit somewhat lucky, forecast paved the way for tornado forecasts to be issued by the U.S. Weather Bureau after a lengthy ban.

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