James Spann: Rain, storms for Alabama tonight, Thursday

RADAR CHECK: Rain is fairly widespread over northwest Alabama this afternoon; otherwise the sky is partly to mostly cloudy with temperatures generally in the 70s. Rain will slowly increase over the state tonight as the remnant circulation of former Tropical Storm Beta gets closer.

Thursday will be a wet, stormy day for Alabama. National Weather Service Huntsville has issued a Flash Flood Watch for the counties in the Tennessee Valley, plus Cullman County; rain amounts could exceed 2 inches there over the next 36 hours.

The Storm Prediction Center maintains a marginal risk (level 1 out of 5) of severe thunderstorms for the southern two-thirds of the state.

The air will become unstable over central and south Alabama, south of a northward-moving warm front. Within that air mass a few storms could produce strong, gusty winds. A brief, isolated tornado can’t be totally ruled out during the afternoon, when the air is most unstable.

Rain and storms will taper off Thursday night.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: Models continue to trend drier; it now looks like most of Friday and Saturday will be warm and dry, with showers being few and far between. Humidity levels will rise and the high Friday will be close to 80 degrees, followed by mid 80s Saturday. Sunday will feature a partly sunny sky with a few scattered, mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. Sunday’s high will be in the mid 80s as well. Odds of any one spot getting wet are only 10-20% Friday and Saturday and 30% Sunday.

NEXT WEEK: Monday will remain warm and humid with a few scattered showers, but a cold front arrives Tuesday with a chance of showers, followed by much cooler and drier air Wednesday through Friday. Highs drop near 70 degrees, with lows between 46 and 52 over the latter half of the week.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: UAB travels to Mobile to take on South Alabama Thursday night (6:30 kickoff). The sky will be mostly cloudy, but there’s just a small risk of a shower during the game. Temperatures will fall from the low 80s at kickoff into the upper 70s by the final whistle.

For the high school games Friday night, the sky will be mostly fair and we take the chance of rain out of the forecast. Temperatures will fall slowly into the mid to upper 70s.

Saturday, Auburn will host Kentucky at Jordan Hare Stadium (11 a.m. kickoff). Expect a partly to mostly sunny sky. Temperatures will rise into the low 80s during the game.

Alabama travels to Columbia, Missouri, to take on Mizzou Saturday (6 p.m. kickoff). The sky will be clear, with temperatures falling from near 82 at kickoff through the 70s during the second half.

TROPICS: Teddy is moving through the Canadian Maritimes this evening as a post-tropical cyclone; the rest of the Atlantic basin is very quiet for a change.

ON THIS DATE IN 1975: Eloise made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane near Panama City Beach, generating wind gusts of 155 mph, which demolished hundreds of buildings in the area. The storm’s severe winds, waves and storm surge left numerous beaches, piers and other coastal structures heavily impaired.

Wind-related damage extended into inland Alabama and Georgia. Farther north, torrential rains along the entire East Coast of the United States created an unprecedented and far-reaching flooding event, especially into the Mid-Atlantic States. In that region, an additional 17 people died as a result of freshwater flooding from the post-tropical storm; infrastructural and geological effects were comparable to those from Hurricane Agnes several years prior. Across the United States, the damage amounted to approximately $560 million. The storm killed 80 people along its entire track; because of the severe damage, the name “Eloise” was retired from the Atlantic tropical cyclone naming lists.

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