James Spann: Sun, scattered storms for Alabama over the weekend

RADAR CHECK: Light to moderate rain is falling over parts of north and west Alabama this afternoon. The eastern and southern counties of the state are mostly dry. Temperatures remain below average, with many places only in the 70s at mid-afternoon; the average high for Birmingham on June 26 is 90. Showers will taper off after sunset.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: We are forecasting a mix of sun and clouds Saturday and Sunday with highs back in the 85- to 90-degree range. We will have the typical risk of random, scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms both days, generally between 1 and 9 p.m. Odds of any one spot getting wet are in the 30% to 40% range. There’s no way of knowing in advance exactly when and where they form; you just have to watch radar trends. Rain distribution will be very uneven.

Where storms develop Saturday afternoon they could be fairly strong, and the Storm Prediction Center maintains a marginal risk (level 1 out of 5) of severe thunderstorms for much of the state.

Heavier thunderstorms Saturday will be capable of producing strong winds and small hail.

NEXT WEEK: The overall pattern won’t change much. Expect pretty routine weather for late June and early July — partly sunny days with scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms daily and highs between 88 and 92 most afternoons.

TROPICS: Tropical storm formation is not expected across the Atlantic basin through next week due to very dry air over the region.

SAL: The Saharan Air Layer is over Alabama and the Deep South for a few days. This happens most summers. Be on the alert for very vivid sunrises and sunsets over the weekend. The Jefferson County Department of Health has issued a “code orange” air quality alert for the Birmingham metro area Saturday, meaning air quality is expected to be “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

Members of “sensitive groups” — people with heart and lung ailments, etc. — may experience health effects due to the SAL over Alabama. The general public is less likely to be affected.

ON THIS DATE IN 1957: Hurricane Audrey was in the western Gulf of Mexico as a Category 3 storm. Landfall would come the following day, June 27, between the mouth of the Sabine River and Cameron, Louisiana. It would go on to cause unprecedented destruction across the region. Prior to making landfall, Audrey severely disrupted offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Damages to offshore oil facilities alone was estimated at $16 million. Damage from the surge alone extended 25 miles inland. The rough seas killed nine people offshore after capsizing the boat they were in. Further inland in Louisiana, the storm spawned two tornadoes, causing additional damage. Audrey also dropped heavy rainfall, peaking at 10.63 inches near Basile. In Louisiana and Texas, where Audrey made its first impact, the damage toll was $128 million. The death toll was 416.

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