James Spann: Mostly dry day for Alabama; rain chances increase later this week

James Spann forecasts mostly dry weather for Alabama today from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

TOUCH OF FALL: Temperatures have dropped into the 60- to 65-degree range across much of north Alabama early this morning for a nice taste of fall. The air is very dry over the northern half of the state, meaning little risk of a shower today and lower humidity. The high will be in the low 90s for most communities this afternoon; the average high for Birmingham on Aug. 18 is 91.

REST OF THE WEEK: Moisture levels rise, and we will bring back the chance of scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms Wednesday with a high in the upper 80s. Then, look for scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms Thursday and Friday with highs dropping into the mid 80s. Most places will see one-half inch to 1 inch of rain Wednesday through Friday.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Showers should become fewer in number Saturday as the air becomes drier, and Sunday looks pretty quiet, with only isolated showers. The high will be in the upper 80s Saturday and close to 90 Sunday.

NEXT WEEK: For now we will go with a summer persistence forecast, but the weather around here will depend on how the tropical systems to the south behave. It is too early to know what, if any, impact we will see here.

TROPICS: The National Hurricane Center is monitoring two distinct tropical waves in the Atlantic basin; both will likely become tropical storms by the end of the week. The names will be Laura and Marco.

INVEST 97L: The lead wave is over the eastern Caribbean. This disturbance is moving westward at about 20 mph and is forecast to continue to move quickly westward over the eastern and central Caribbean Sea during the next couple of days, which is likely to limit significant development. After that time, however, the system is forecast to move more slowly westward across the western Caribbean, where upper-level winds could become more conducive for the development of a tropical depression during the latter part of this week. Regardless of development, locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds are expected over portions of the Windward and southern Leeward Islands this morning.

In the longer range, there is a decent chance this system reaches the Gulf of Mexico, but there is no way to know the final destination or intensity. Just something to watch for now.

INVEST 98L: The easternmost wave, now a little more than 700 miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, is producing a concentrated area of showers and thunderstorms displaced to the west of an elongated surface circulation. Environmental conditions are conducive for further development, and a tropical depression is likely to form within the next day or two while the system moves westward to west-northwestward at 15 to 20 mph across the central and western portions of the tropical Atlantic. Again, it is way too early to know the ultimate track and intensity.

If you have a beach trip planned next week, there is no need to cancel. Just keep an eye on updates, and we will have much better clarity late this week on the potential of both systems.

ON THIS DATE IN 1983: Alicia became a major hurricane and made landfall an hour later on Galveston Island with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and a minimum barometric pressure of 962 millibars as measured by aircraft reconnaissance, making it a low-end Category 3 on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale. Alicia was the first hurricane to strike the continental United States since Hurricane Allen moved ashore in south Texas in August 1980, ending the longest break in contiguous U.S. hurricane landfalls of the 20th century. The hurricane was also the first major hurricane to hit the Greater Houston area since Hurricane Carla in 1961.

Widespread damage was wrought in Galveston and Houston, where thousands of homes were destroyed. In downtown Houston, nearly all skyscrapers lost approximately half of their lower-level windows, littering the urban streets with debris. Widespread power outages and flooding affected much of southeast Texas, with observed rainfall totals peaking just under 10 inches. In addition to the strong winds, rough surf and heavy rain, Alicia also generated 22 tornadoes around the Houston-Galveston area; most were rated F0, but the strongest, an F2, tore through Corsicana farther north.

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