WINDY/COOL: The big storms that moved through the region last night and very early this morning have shifted down into the southern quarter of the state, and are much weaker. Following the storms, the sky becomes sunny today, but it will be windy and cool, with a high only in the 60- to 65-degree range, about 20 degrees colder than yesterday. A northwest wind of 15-25 mph will make it feel colder.
FREEZE WARNING: A freeze warning has been posted for early tomorrow morning for parts of north and central Alabama; the sky will be clear and the wind goes to near calm. The freeze warning includes areas north of a line from Millport to Fayette to Birmingham to Sylacauga to Roanoke. Of course, temperatures don’t follow nice lines like that; colder pockets to the south could see a light freeze and some frost as well. Growers, beware.
The day tomorrow will be sunny with a high in the upper 60s. Then, on Friday, we are forecasting a partly sunny sky with a high close to 70 degrees.
THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Another cold front will bring rain and storms back to Alabama late Friday night into Saturday; a few strong storms are possible over the southern half of the state, where there will be some surface-based instability. The American global model suggests the rain could be over by midday Saturday, but the reliable European model keeps rain in here through Saturday afternoon. We will go with the slower solution for now and forecast periods of rain Saturday with temperatures only in the 50s, almost 20 degrees below average for early April in Alabama.
The sky will clear Saturday night, and yet another freeze looks likely by daybreak Sunday with lows in the upper 20s and low 30s for north and central Alabama. Then, during the day Sunday, we climb into the upper 60s with a sunny sky.
NEXT WEEK: Another round of rain and storms is likely Monday, followed by more very cool air. Midweek looks dry with below-average temperatures; we could very well have another chance of frost Wednesday morning, April 11.
ON THIS DATE IN 1977: A violent F5 tornado tore through the northern part of Birmingham on April 4, 1977. The tornado began around 3 p.m. near U.S. 78, and then traveled northeast for 15 miles at 60 mph, crossing Interstate 65. At its widest point, the tornado was three-quarters of a mile wide. More than 150 homes were damaged and almost 50 destroyed, many in the Smithfield Estates neighborhood. A total of 22 people were killed and more than 130 injured. This storm caused more than $25 million in damage. Daniel Payne College near U.S. 78 sustained heavy damage from this massive tornado, with estimates exceeding $1 million. The college, opened in 1880, closed its doors later in 1977, likely a result of the enormous cost and amount of damage. There were six other tornadoes on this day, including five F2 tornadoes and an F3 tornado, across north and central Alabama.
That same afternoon, a Southern Airways DC-9 (Flight 242) crashed near New Hope, Georgia. The flight, bound to Atlanta from Huntsville, had 82 people aboard. It penetrated a severe thunderstorm near Rome, Georgia. Hail ingestion caused the engines to fail. Sixty people on the plane and nine people on the ground died as the pilot crash-landed the plane on a highway.
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