James Spann: Severe thunderstorms possible in Alabama tonight

James Spann has the forecast for a stormy night in Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

SEVERE STORMS POSSIBLE TONIGHT: Another dynamic storm system will impact Alabama over the next 24 hours, but the day today should be fairly quiet. The sky will be mostly cloudy, and temperatures will rise to near 80 degrees this afternoon. As the pressure gradient tightens, south winds will ramp up this afternoon, averaging 15-25 mph with higher gusts. Any showers today should be very widely spaced.

A band of strong to severe thunderstorms will enter the western counties of the state early tonight; the Storm Prediction Center has defined an enhanced risk (level 3 out of 5) of severe storms for areas south of a line from Reform to Prattville to Eufaula; the rest of the state (roughly the northern half) is in a slight risk (level 2 of 5).

TIMING: While there is an outside risk a strong storm could move into far west Alabama as early as 4, the main risk comes after 6, with the storms advancing eastward tonight. They exit the state Friday morning before sunrise.

THREATS: Storms tonight will be capable of producing damaging straight-line winds and a few tornadoes. The highest tornado threat is in the enhanced risk over south Alabama, but a brief, isolated tornado is possible over the northern counties of the state as well.

RAIN: Rain amounts will be around 1 inch, and flooding is not expected.

This type event is fairly common in Alabama in April; this is the core of our spring tornado season. Just be sure you have a way of hearing warnings tonight (NEVER a siren), and also I would suggest that you pay attention to severe thunderstorm warnings. In your safe place, have helmets for everyone. And if you live in a mobile or manufactured home, know the closest shelter or business that is open (gas station, truck stop, etc.) and be ready to get there in a hurry if tornado warnings are issued.

FRIDAY: A deep, cold-core upper low will pass right over Alabama. The severe weather threat shifts to areas east of here, but the day will be cloudy and much colder with temperatures holding in the 50s all day. We will have some light rain at times, and even light rain showers could produce some small hail because of the very cold air aloft associated with the upper low.

EASTER WEEKEND: Any lingering clouds over northeast Alabama Saturday morning will lift out pretty quickly; otherwise we expect sunshine in full force both days as dry air takes over. Colder pockets could see a low in the upper 30s early Saturday morning; most places will be in the low 40s. The high will be in the mid 60s Saturday, followed by upper 70s Sunday. For Easter sunrise services, temperatures will be in the 40s early Sunday morning.

NEXT WEEK: The weather will be dry with warm afternoons Monday through Wednesday. Showers and storms return Thursday; it’s a little too early to know if this system will pose a severe weather threat. Showers could linger Friday, but the following weekend (April 27-28) will be dry.

ON THIS DATE IN 1906: At 5:12 a.m., a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit San Francisco. A devastating fire soon broke out in the city and lasted for several days. About 3,000 people died, and more than 80 percent of San Francisco was destroyed.

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