James Spann: Warm, humid days ahead for Alabama with scattered storms

RADAR CHECK: It is a fairly quiet afternoon across Alabama; temperatures are in the 77- to 83-degree range at mid-afternoon with very few showers on radar. Isolated showers will remain possible through early tonight.

FRIDAY: New high-resolution computer model guidance suggests a fast-moving batch of thunderstorms will scoot through the Tennessee Valley of north Alabama Friday morning; these storms could produce small hail and gusty winds. The Storm Prediction Center has introduced a low-end, marginal risk of severe storms for far north Alabama Friday because of this potential.

The afternoon will be partly sunny with a few additional scattered showers or storms possible; the high will be in the mid-80s.

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: Warm, humid weather is the story for Alabama during the holiday weekend, with highs generally between 85 and 89 degrees. Each day will feature a mix of sun and clouds, and we will deal with random, scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. The main window for storms will come from 1 until 9 p.m., and odds of any one spot getting wet daily will be in the 30% to 40% range — very typical weather for Memorial Day in Alabama.

NEXT WEEK: No major change is expected; the primary upper-air westerly winds aloft (the jet stream) will remain well to the north, leaving us in a warm, humid air mass. Days will be partly sunny with the usual risk of a pop-up afternoon storm in scattered spots. Highs will be in the 86- to 90-degree range.

HURRICANE OUTLOOK ISSUED: An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. The outlook predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

The combination of several climate factors is driving the strong likelihood for above-normal activity in the Atlantic this year. El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are expected to either remain neutral or to trend toward La Nina, meaning there will not be an El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity. Also, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, combined with reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon all increase the likelihood for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.

ON THIS DATE IN 1949: A violent tornado crossed the Mississippi River from the St. Louis area into Wood River, then to Roxanna. This tornado damaged or destroyed 300 homes in these two towns, killing five people. Four people died in a destroyed restaurant in Palestine, Illinois; one body was recovered from a tree. A tornado causing estimated F4 damage killed five people and injured 55 in St. Louis and St. Charles counties in Missouri and Madison County in Illinois. This tornado was part of an outbreak that produced four tornadoes and was responsible for five deaths and 57 injuries.

ON THIS DATE IN 2001: Golfers participating in a tournament at the Majestic Golf Course in Hartland, Michigan, received an urgent message on the G.P.S. on their carts. The message, relayed from the clubhouse, was that a tornado was bearing down on the course. Most of the golfers made it to safety in the clubhouse, although some had to take shelter on the course. Only one golfer suffered a minor injury. The F2 tornado damaged 70 cars in the parking lot along with numerous golf carts and a pontoon boat.

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