James Spann: A few showers, storms for Alabama late Saturday night

WARM MARCH DAY: Temperatures are mostly in the low to mid 80s across Alabama this afternoon — so far, no new records. The average high for Birmingham on March 27 is 70. The air is dry and the sky is mostly sunny as a strong upper high over the Gulf of Mexico remains the dominant weather feature. The sky will remain mostly fair tonight with a low in the 60s.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: While a small, isolated shower or two can’t be totally ruled out, the day Saturday will be warm and mostly dry, with a high in the 80s again. Clouds will increase Saturday, and a band of showers and storms will push into the state Saturday night around midnight. The Storm Prediction Center maintains a slight risk (level 2 out of 5) of severe thunderstorms for the northwest corner of the state, with a marginal risk (level 1 of 5) as far south as Northport, Oneonta and Fort Payne.

Storms could produce strong, gusty winds and some hail over far northwest Alabama late Saturday night, but they should weaken as they move southeast, and by the time they reach Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Anniston and Gadsden we will be dealing with mostly light rain showers early Sunday morning. The main dynamic support will be lifting far north of Alabama, keeping our severe potential low.

During the day Sunday, the sky becomes partly sunny with a high in the 70s.

NEXT WEEK: Monday will be dry with a high in the 70s, but clouds will increase by afternoon. Rain and a few thunderstorms are likely Tuesday; a strong storm is possible, but for now severe thunderstorms are not expected. Wednesday and Thursday will be dry and cooler, with a high in the 60s; then a few isolated showers could show up on Friday.

ON THIS DATE IN 1994: An EF-4 tornado struck the Goshen United Methodist Church, north of Piedmont, killing 20 people during the morning worship service; 92 were injured. A warning was issued 12 minutes before the tornado destroyed the church building, but unfortunately they never heard the warning. The deaths at the church brought to light the deficiencies in the NOAA Weather Radio network across the United States at the time, and the lack of NOAA Weather Radio use in many public spaces. We have come a long way since then, but we have much work to do. Every home, business, church and public place must have a way of hearing warnings.

Later that day, an EF2 tornado moved through north Shelby County. It extensively damaged businesses and mobile homes and caused minor damage to Pelham High School. It dissipated just west of Meadowbrook.

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