James Spann: Delta nearing landfall; tornado threat in Alabama Saturday

EYES ON DELTA: Hurricane Delta is slowly weakening as it nears the Louisiana coast this evening; winds have decreased to 105 mph, and continued weakening is expected. The sky is mostly cloudy over Alabama with showers moving northward in the tropical flow. Showers will continue tonight.

TORNADO THREAT SATURDAY:  As Delta moves into north Mississippi Saturday afternoon, that will put Alabama in a position where storm relative helicity values are high. With models now showing higher instability, concern has been raised about the tornado potential Saturday. The Storm Prediction Center has much of west Alabama in a slight risk (level 2 of 5), with a marginal risk (level 1 of 5) for the rest of the state.

The main chance of a few tornadoes will come during the peak of the daytime heating process, from roughly 1 until 7 p.m. Be sure you have a way of hearing severe weather warnings Saturday if they are needed, and review your severe weather plan. It has been a while since we have had a tornado day.

Otherwise, Saturday will be a cloudy, breezy day with occasional rain and a few thunderstorms. Rain will continue at times Saturday night and into Sunday morning; the rain will end from west to east during the midday hours Sunday. Rain amounts will be 2-3 inches across northwest Alabama, with 1-2 inches for the rest of the state. Flooding is not expected. Highs over the weekend will be between 75 and 80 degrees.

NEXT WEEK: The weather will be warm and dry Monday through Thursday with highs mostly in the low 80s; cooler air arrives Friday with highs dropping into the 70s.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: Most of the high school games were moved to Thursday night; for those games being played tonight, periods of rain are likely with temperatures falling into the low 70s.

Saturday, Auburn hosts Arkansas (3 p.m. kickoff) at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Occasional showers are likely during the game, with a south wind of 8-16 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). There’s a good chance the heavier rain bands will be north and east of Oxford by the new kickoff time, but a few showers are still likely with winds of 12-25 mph. Temperatures will be in the low 70s.

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

ON THIS DATE IN 1804: The famous Snow Hurricane moved ashore near Atlantic City. After it briefly passed through Connecticut and into Massachusetts, cold air was entrained in the circulation, with heavy snow falling from New York to southern Canada. Berkshires, Massachusetts, and Concord, New Hampshire, recorded 2 feet of snow. This storm produced the first observation of snow from a hurricane, but not the last. Hurricane Ginny of 1963 brought up to 18 inches of snow to portions of Maine.

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