James Spann: Showers return to Alabama Friday; wet, breezy Saturday

WARM OCTOBER DAY: Temperatures are mostly in the mid 80s across Alabama this afternoon with a good supply of sunshine; the average high for Birmingham on Oct. 7 is 78. Tonight will be mostly fair with a low in the 50s.

The weather won’t change much Thursday — partly to mostly sunny with a high in the mid 80s. A few showers, however, will develop over the southern quarter of the state as moisture increases ahead of Hurricane Delta. On Friday, showers are likely statewide, becoming more numerous Friday night.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Saturday will be a wet, breezy day as Delta passes to the west. Rain is likely much of the day, with a thunderstorm or two possible as well. Rain amounts of 1 to 2 inches are expected along and north of I-59 (Tuscaloosa to Birmingham to Gadsden), and also over southwest Alabama. The rest of the state will likely see less than 1 inch. Flooding is not expected.

Winds will be in the 12-25 mph range; a few gusts to 30 mph are possible over the western counties of the state. We don’t expect any major tree or power-line damage.

If sufficient instability can develop, a few brief, isolated tornadoes are possible during the day Saturday; we will be watching radar carefully. Keep in mind tornadoes associated with tropical systems often last only a few minutes and are under low-topped showers that can be very tough to detect.

Rain will end from southwest to northeast during the day Sunday; some sun is possible by afternoon. We project highs over the weekend between 75 and 80 degrees.

NEXT WEEK: Monday will be warm and dry; then a cold front will pass through on Tuesday, mostly in dry fashion. Much cooler air rolls in during the latter half of the week.

DELTA: Hurricane Delta, now with sustained winds of 100 mph, has emerged off the Yucatan Peninsula and is now over the far southern Gulf of Mexico. Warm waters and low vertical wind shear conditions are expected to allow for re-strengthening during the next 24 to 36 hours. After 48 hours, increasing southwesterly shear and cooler waters over the northern Gulf are likely to induce some weakening. Landfall is still forecast along the western Louisiana coast during the day Friday.

Delta is expected to grow as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast, where there is an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds beginning Friday, particularly for portions of the Louisiana coast. A Hurricane Watch is in effect from High Island, Texas, to Grand Isle, Louisiana. Also, a Storm Surge Watch is in effect from High Island, Texas, to the Alabama-Florida border, including Calcasieu Lake, Vermilion Bay, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, Lake Borgne and Mobile Bay.

While the main wind and storm surge impacts will be west of Alabama, the National Hurricane Center is forecasting a surge of 2-4 feet along the Alabama Gulf Coast and Mobile Bay. Winds of 25-40 mph are likely across Mobile and Baldwin counties Friday and Friday night; speeds will be in the 15-30 mph range along the northwest Florida coast. Rain amounts of 1-2 inches are expected.

A few isolated, brief waterspouts or tornadoes are possible along the Alabama and northwest Florida Gulf Coast Friday and Friday night. Dangerous rip currents are likely through Saturday.

The sky becomes partly sunny along the Gulf Coast Saturday, and the weather looks dry Sunday through most of next week.

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. Periods of rain are likely during the game, with a south wind of 10-20 mph. Temperatures will be in the upper 70s.

Alabama will take on Ole Miss on the road at Oxford (5 p.m. kickoff). A west wind of 15-25 mph is likely during the game, and rain associated with Delta is a good possibility, mainly during the first half. Temperatures will be in the 70s.

Jacksonville State will host Mercer (2 p.m. kickoff); occasional rain is likely with temperatures in the mid to upper 70s.

ON THIS DATE IN 2018: The National Hurricane Center upgraded Michael to a tropical storm only eight hours after it became a depression. Tropical-storm-force winds and torrential downpours affected portions of the coastal east-central Yucatan Peninsula.

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