James Spann: Alabama weather dry, mild on Wednesday; storms arrive Thursday

PLEASANT MARCH AFTERNOON: Temperatures are hovering around the 70-degree mark across Alabama this afternoon with a good supply of sunshine. The sky will stay mostly fair tonight with a low in the low 50s.

The weather stays dry Wednesday; the day will be mild and breezy with a mix of sun and clouds and a high in the mid 70s. But, to the west, a very deep surface low (as low as 970 mb) will form over Kansas. This will bring blizzard conditions to parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska, and the risk of severe storms in the warm sector south and east of the surface low.

STORMS IN ALABAMA THURSDAY: The deep low will weaken a bit and move into Iowa Thursday, with a cold front pushing into our state by the evening. Ahead of the front, a band of showers and storms will arrive Thursday afternoon, and some of the storms could be strong to severe.

The Storm Prediction Center has defined a slight risk (level 2 of 5) Thursday for areas west of a line from Huntsville to Birmingham to Linden, and a marginal risk (level 1 of 5) as far east as Gadsden, Rockford, Monroeville and Satsuma.

New data continue to suggest the main limiting factor Thursday, when it comes to thunderstorms, is instability. Shear values are very high, but fairly low instability values could serve to limit the overall severe weather threat. If we do see strong to severe storms, the main window will come from 3 until 9 p.m. Thursday. Some rain is possible, if not likely, earlier in the day.

The main threat will come from strong straight-line winds and small hail, but there is a low-end tornado threat as well. The temperatures will stay mild Thursday, with a high in the 70s.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: Any lingering showers will end early in the day Friday, and the sky becomes partly sunny by afternoon. Cooler air will creep into the state; the high Friday will be in the low 60s.

The weekend will be dry, but look out for frosty mornings. We project lows early Saturday and Sunday mornings in the 30- to 35-degree range; frost is likely, with a freeze for colder spots. The sky will be mostly sunny both days; the high will be in the mid to upper 50s Saturday, followed by low 60s Sunday.

NEXT WEEK: At this point the entire week looks dry with seasonal temperatures — highs mostly in the 60s.

ON THIS DATE IN 1993: The generational “Blizzard of ’93” was underway. All 67 Alabama counties had measurable snow. Winds gusted to nearly hurricane force on ridges with white-out conditions; snow amounts of 1 to 2 feet were common over the northern half of the state, with drifts to 4 feet. There was a lot of eerie green lightning followed by the muffled sound of thunder during the peak of the storm. With the atmosphere overloaded with big snowflakes, part of the sound of thunder was absorbed. Some had no power for more than a week. We forecast 6 to 16 inches of snow going into the event, but many didn’t listen since it was mid-March, the flowers were blooming and the high on March 10, 1993 (two days before the blizzard), was 75.

To the south, between Louisiana and Cuba, hurricane-force winds associated with the system produced high storm surges across the Big Bend of Florida, which, in combination with scattered tornadoes, killed dozens of people.

WEATHER RADIO PROGRAMMING IN JACKSONVILLE: We will be in Jacksonville next Monday night, March 18, programming weather radios. Bring your weather radio and we will check it for you; we will be on the fifth floor of Jacksonville State University Stadium from 4 until 6:30 p.m. I will be there doing weather live on ABC 33/40.

BEACH FORECAST: Click here to see the AlabamaWx Beach Forecast Center page.

WEATHER BRAINS: You can listen to our weekly 90-minute show any time on your favorite podcast app. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including the meteorologists at ABC 33/40.

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For more weather news and information from James Spann and his team, visit AlabamaWx.

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