James Spann: Alabama showers, storms become fewer in number over the weekend



RADAR CHECK: We have quite a variety of weather across Alabama today; for many across the southwest counties the sky is sunny with temperatures around 90 degrees, but clusters of showers and storms continue to develop elsewhere, many of them producing heavy amounts of rain. Much of Tuscaloosa County and a part of Pickens County have been under a Flash Flood Warning much of the afternoon. A few spots in these counties have experienced more than 5 inches of rain since midnight.

Showers and storms will slowly fade after sunset and showers after midnight should be fairly isolated.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: We are still forecasting showers and thunderstorms Saturday, but they should be more widely scattered. However, where they do develop, they could be strong. The Storm Prediction Center has introduced a low-end, marginal risk (level 1 of 5) for parts of west and south Alabama.

The sky will be partly sunny Saturday with afternoon temperatures rising into the 87- to 90-degree range, making the air somewhat unstable. Afternoon storms, where they develop, could produce small hail and strong, gusty winds. The chance of any one spot getting wet will be 30-40%. On Sunday, most of the state will be dry with a partly to mostly sunny sky. Showers will be very isolated, and the chance of one location seeing rain drops to 10-20%. The high Sunday afternoon will be close to 90 degrees.

NEXT WEEK: The weather will be relatively dry Monday through Wednesday, with only isolated showers each day. Expect lots of sunshine on these three days with highs between 88 and 92 degrees. The weather toward the end of the week will depend on the behavior of a tropical low that is expected to form in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s too early to know whether Alabama will see rain from this system.

TROPICS: The Atlantic basin will remain quiet through the weekend, but a tropical depression or storm is expected to form in the southwest Gulf of Mexico by the middle of next week. As you might expect this far out, there is considerable disagreement in global model output. The GFS (American model) wants to bring the system toward the Alabama coast, but the reliable European global model (ECMWF) brings it into Louisiana. The main impact with early-season systems like this is heavy rain and flooding potential along and to the east of where the center comes ashore. It is too early to forecast the ultimate destination of the system and coastal impact. We will have much better clarity by early next week.

ON THIS DATE IN 1990: One of the most expensive hailstorms in U.S. history occurred, causing $625 million of damage along the Colorado Front Range from Colorado Springs to Estes Park. Golf- to baseball-sized hail fell along with heavy rain. Sixty people were injured in the storm.

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