James Spann: Wet weekend ahead for Alabama

THIS AFTERNOON: Mid- to high-level clouds are advancing into Alabama this afternoon; showers are over southwest Alabama, but most of the state is dry with temperatures between 80 and 85 degrees. Clouds will continue to thicken tonight.

Friday will be a cloudy day with occasional showers likely, becoming more numerous Friday night. The high will be in the mid to upper 70s.

WET WEEKEND: Alabama will be on the wet, east side of the circulation of Hurricane Delta as it moves inland over Louisiana and weakens; Saturday will be breezy with rain much of the day, but not necessarily all day. Winds will average 15-25 mph, with gusts possible to 30 mph near the Mississippi border. If the air can sufficiently destabilize, a few brief, isolated tornadoes will be possible, mostly during the afternoon and evening. The Storm Prediction Center has most of north and central Alabama in a marginal risk (level 1 of 5).

Keep in mind tornadoes associated with tropical systems tend to be short-lived and low-topped, meaning they can literally be “under the radar” and very hard to detect. Just be weather aware Saturday, and be sure you can hear severe weather warnings if they are needed.

Models are trending wetter on Sunday; it looks like periods of rain could continue through a decent part of the day over the northern half of the state. Rain totals through Sunday night will be around 2.5 inches for the northwest corner of the state and around 1 to 1.5 inches for places like Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden and Mobile. Lighter amounts will be found from Anniston south on the eastern side of the state, generally less than 1 inch. Flooding is not expected.

NEXT WEEK: The week looks generally dry. Highs will be in the low to mid 80s early in the week; cooler air arrives by Thursday and Friday.

DELTA: Hurricane Delta is packing sustained winds of 105 mph this afternoon and is about 350 miles south of Cameron, Louisiana, moving northwest at 13 mph.

The hurricane is expected to reach Category 3 strength late tonight or Friday before weakening to a Category 2 at the time of landfall Friday evening on the southwest Louisiana coast.

The primary wind and storm surge issues will be west of Alabama; storm surge on the Alabama coast and Mobile Bay is expected to be 1-3 feet. Rain amounts of 1-2 inches are expected on the Alabama and northwest Florida coast through Friday night; no flooding problems are anticipated. However, a few isolated, brief waterspouts or tornadoes are possible Friday and Friday night.

Also, dangerous rip currents are likely through Saturday; expect double red flags. The surf will begin to settle down Sunday. The weather will improve on the Gulf Coast Saturday as the sky becomes partly sunny, and Sunday should feature a good supply of sunshine. Expect just a few isolated showers from Gulf Shores to Panama City Beach over the weekend.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: Many of the high school games have been moved to tonight; 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 mid to upper 70s.

Alabama will take on Ole Miss on the road at Oxford (6:30 p.m. kickoff, delayed by 90 minutes to avoid the worst of Saturday evening’s weather). It will be windy and wet due to the remnant circulation of Delta.

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 1946: A minimal Category 1 hurricane made landfall over Bradenton, Florida, before tracking north-northeast across Tampa Bay. The storm was the last hurricane to make direct landfall in the Tampa Bay area.

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