James Spann: Rain, storms return to Alabama Thursday

NOT MUCH SUN: While we do have a few breaks in the overcast this afternoon, the sky is mostly cloudy over Alabama with temperatures generally in the 60s. Nothing on radar over the northern half of the state, although we do note some nice gravity wave formation on the visible satellite views this afternoon.

Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy and warmer; we reach the upper 70s, with potential for 80-degree warmth where the sun can break through for a while. Any showers during the day tomorrow should be few and far between as the upper ridge holds.

THURSDAY: A broad surface low will be south of St. Louis, with a trailing cold front moving into Alabama during the day. This will bring widespread rain and thunderstorms; the heaviest rain will be over the northwest corner of the state, where Florence and Muscle Shoals will have potential for 3 to 4 inches with some flooding. Rain totals for the rest of the state should be closer to 1 inch.

Strong storms are possible; the Storm Prediction Center has a decent part of the state in a severe weather risk.

Overall conditions are somewhat marginal for severe storms, with weak lapse rates and low instability values for late March. A better chance of stronger storms will actually come during the morning and midday before dynamic support weakens. High-resolution model data shows STP values less than 1; the STP peaked around 7 back on March 19 when we had 15 tornadoes across the state. We will still watch storms closely as they move through.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: The sky becomes mostly sunny Friday as dry air returns; the high will be in the 60s. The weekend looks delightful, with dry, mild conditions. Saturday will be sunny with a high in the mid 70s; a few scattered clouds will show up Sunday, but still we will enjoy a good supply of sunshine with highs in the 70s.

NEXT WEEK: For now Monday looks dry, but the rest of the week looks rather unsettled as moist air returns to the state during midweek. There’s some potential for stronger storms late in the week as a sharp cold front approaches.

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