James Spann: Another late-season freeze ahead for Alabama

James Spann: Below-average temperatures for Alabama until the weekend from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

WINDY, COOL DAY AHEAD: Temperatures are in the mid 30s across most of north and central Alabama early this morning, although a few spots have dropped to freezing. Just before daybreak Cullman reported 32 degrees. We have a northwest wind of 6-12 mph, and accordingly no frost issues. Today will be sunny and cool with a strong northwest wind averaging 15-25 mph.

ANOTHER LATE-SEASON FREEZE: A freeze warning is in effect tonight for areas north of a line from Winfield to Jasper to Columbiana to Sylacauga to Roanoke, with a frost advisory south of there, down into the southern counties of the state.

For most places the low early tomorrow will be in the 28- to 33-degree range, and frost is likely with a clear sky and calm wind. During the day, tomorrow will be sunny with a high close to 60 degrees.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: Friday will be dry with a good supply of sunshine; the high will be in the mid 60s. Temperatures warm into the 70s over the weekend; for now it looks like most of the day Saturday will be dry, but clouds will increase late in the day and a few showers are possible Saturday night and Sunday as a surface boundary drifts southward. For now it looks like moisture will be pretty limited, and rain amounts will be light and spotty. The southern third of Alabama will most likely remain dry.

NEXT WEEK: Showers remain possible Monday as the boundary lifts northward and begins to dissipate; the day will be mostly cloudy and cooler, with a high in the 60s. Then, most of midweek looks dry, with highs in the 70s.

ON THIS DATE IN 1932: A generational tornado outbreak occurred across the Deep South; official Weather Bureau tabulations said that 268 people were killed in Alabama, with 1,874 injured. But the truth is that we really don’t know how many died because of sparse records; most likely the death toll was much higher.

It was around 3:30 in the afternoon on that fateful Monday when the first black funnels came pounding to the ground in the Demopolis, Linden and Faunsdale areas of west central Alabama. Death came to 36 people in Marengo County; 136 were injured and 180 homes were destroyed. Then came the disaster at Tuscaloosa and Northport. A clock at the demolished Tuscaloosa Country Club stopped at 4:01 p.m., 30 minutes after the first strikes near Demopolis.

After striking the western end of Tuscaloosa, the death-dealing tornado plowed across the Warrior River into Northport. Witnesses said it was shaped like an ice cream cone and it was so filled with airborne debris that it had an eerie white glow resembling a whirling heavy snow shower moving in on the city. But it was not snow. Thirty-eight people died in Northport and 250 were injured. Druid City Hospital in Tuscaloosa was quickly filled to capacity. The University of Alabama gymnasium was pressed into service as an emergency additional hospital.

Only one hour later, still more disaster. A path of destruction 20 miles long was cut across Cullman County. It left 23 dead and 300 injured. The Fairview community was hardest hit.

The tragic day continued to unfold. Tornadoes struck in Alabama from 3:30 in the afternoon until at least 7 in the evening. A broad area received severe damage, generally from Demopolis on the southwest to Scottsboro, Stevenson and Paint Rock in northeast Alabama and also eastward to Chilton, Coosa and Clay counties.

Chilton County in central Alabama was hit extremely hard, with 58 people killed. The Union Grove community near Jemison was laid to waste. Doctors and nurses from Montgomery and Birmingham worked all night by lantern and flashlight to relieve the widespead suffering. In Clay County, one of the tornadoes remained on the ground for 30 miles, cutting a path 400 yards wide. A new automobile became airborne and was carried through the air for a distance of 400 yards. Twelve people died in Clay County and 200 were injured. After the tornado, there were people living in the Clay County Courthouse.

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