James Spann: Delta grows stronger, moving tropical rain into Alabama late this week

James Spann forecasts tropical rain a few days away for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

EYES ON THE TROPICS: Alabama’s weather will remain dry through Wednesday with a warming trend. With a good supply of sunshine we rise into the low 80s today and mid 80s Wednesday. But, of course, our attention is focused on Hurricane Delta, which will play a big role in our weather in four to five days.

Showers are possible over the southern half of the state Thursday, but the northern counties will likely remain warm and dry with a high in the mid 80s. Clouds thicken across the state Friday, and showers are possible statewide. The most widespread rain associated with Delta will likely come late Friday night through early Sunday as the remnant circulation moves through Mississippi and into the northwest corner of Alabama.

The new quantitative precipitation forecast from the Weather Prediction Center suggests rain amounts of around 4 inches for northwest and southwest Alabama, with other locations seeing totals from 2 to 4 inches. Lighter amounts (1-2 inches) are forecast for the southeast part of the state.

Major flash flooding is not expected for now, since the rain will be spread out over a 36-hour window and the ground is not saturated, thanks to the recent dry spell. We do note models show a little greater instability potential Saturday, which could open the door for the threat of a couple of brief, isolated tornadoes for a decent part of the state.

The rain will end from west to east early Sunday; the sky should become partly sunny Sunday afternoon. Highs over the weekend will be close to 80 degrees.

NEXT WEEK: Monday looks warm and dry with a high in the low to mid 80s; cooler air filters into the state during midweek. For now most of the week looks rain-free.

LATEST ON DELTA: The rapid intensification process continued overnight; top winds are now 100 mph. Delta will pass very close to Cancun and the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula late tonight, and it is now forecast to reach Category 4 strength in the southern Gulf of Mexico by Thursday. From there, weakening is forecast due to an increase in southwesterly shear and cooler shelf waters near the northern Gulf coast. The National Hurricane Center expects Delta to be a Category 2 hurricane at the time of landfall along the Louisiana coast, southeast of Morgan City, Friday night.

The remnant circulation is forecast to move into the northwest corner of Alabama Saturday night.

COASTAL IMPACT: While the primary storm surge and wind damage threat will be west of Alabama, across southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi coast, some surge flooding is likely along the Alabama Gulf Coast Friday into Saturday morning. It is a little too early to forecast surge amounts. Sustained winds of 20-35 mph look likely for Mobile and Baldwin counties Friday night, with gusts to 40 mph. Winds across the Florida Panhandle (Pensacola to Panama City Beach) will be in the 15-25 mph range. A few brief waterspouts or tornadoes are possible Friday and Friday night anywhere from the Mississippi coast to Apalachicola.

Dangerous rip currents are likely on the Gulf Coast through Saturday.

Rain amounts for Mobile and Baldwin counties should be close to 4 inches; amounts for the Florida Panhandle are forecast to be 2-3 inches.

While rain is likely along the Alabama and northwest Florida coasts Thursday, Friday and into early Saturday, the weather will improve on the Gulf Coast Saturday afternoon as Delta moves inland. Routine weather is expected Sunday through much of next week with a good supply of sunshine each day.

REMEMBER: When you are dealing with a tropical system, forecast changes are likely. Be sure and see the latest updates in coming days; if you are working with old information, you are working with bad information.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: Many of the high school games have been moved to Thursday night; the weather will be dry over the northern half of the state with temperatures falling through the 70s. Showers are likely Friday night with temperatures in the 70s.

Saturday, Auburn hosts Arkansas (3 p.m. kickoff) at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Rain is likely during the game, with winds of 15-25 mph. Temperatures will be between 75 and 80 degrees, and there could be a low-end risk of a brief tornado over east Alabama Saturday afternoon.

Alabama will take on Ole Miss on the road at Oxford (5 p.m. kickoff). The weather looks windy and wet due to the remnant circulation of Delta; winds could gust as high as 30-35 mph during the game. Rain is likely; temperatures will be in the 70s.

Jacksonville State will host Mercer (2 p.m. kickoff); rain is likely with temperatures in the upper 70s. Like Auburn, a low-end risk of a brief tornado could develop over northeast Alabama.

ON THIS DATE IN 2016: The center of Category 4 Hurricane Matthew passed within 100 miles of Miami, Florida. The hurricane would later make landfall at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, near McClellanville, South Carolina, with winds of 85 mph and a central pressure of 963 millibars, which made it the strongest to strike the United States in terms of pressure since Irene in 2011, and the first hurricane to make landfall north of Florida in October since Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

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