James Spann: The heat is on Alabama through the weekend

HOT, DRY AFTERNOON: Temperatures are mostly between 88 and 92 degrees across Alabama at mid-afternoon with sunshine in full supply. The sky will stay mostly clear tonight; the low early Thursday will be in the upper 60s for most places.

TO THE WEST: More dangerous thunderstorms are possible across parts of north Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri through tonight. A moderate risk (level 4 of 5) has been defined there by the Storm Prediction Center.

THURSDAY: Another hot and mostly dry day is ahead, although high-resolution model output hints we could see a few isolated storms over east and south Alabama. The odds of any one spot getting wet are only about 1 in 10. Most of the state stays dry with a good supply of sunshine. The high will be in the low 90s, possibly mid 90s in west Alabama.

FRIDAY AND THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND: A strong upper high will bring dry, hot weather to the state Friday through Monday — mostly sunny days and fair nights, with highs in the mid to upper 90s, right at record levels for late May in Alabama.

NEXT WEEK: Hot, dry weather will continue Monday and Tuesday, but the ridge weakens later in the week and a few showers are possible by Thursday and Friday.

RAIN UPDATE: Birmingham’s rain total for the year is 24.19 inches, and the surplus is 1.77. That surplus will shrink in coming days as the dry pattern continues.

ON THIS DATE IN 2011: One of the most devastating tornadoes in the nation’s history directly killed 158 people and injured more than 1,000 in Joplin, Missouri. It reached a maximum width of nearly 1 mile during its path through the southern part of the city. This tornado was unusual in that it intensified in strength and grew larger in size at a very fast rate. The tornado tracked eastward across the city, and then continued eastward across Interstate 44 into rural portions of Jasper County and Newton County. It was the third tornado to strike Joplin since May 1971. The Joplin EF-5 tornado was the first single tornado to result in more than 100 fatalities since the June 8, 1953, Flint, Michigan tornado.

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