James Spann: Alabama showers, storms to increase in coming days

RADAR CHECK: Showers and thunderstorms are increasing across central Alabama this afternoon. They are moving to the west, thanks to the tropical cyclonic circulation in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The storms are producing heavy rain, gusty winds and lots of lightning, and we will hang on to the chance of scattered storms through tonight.

EYES ON THE GULF: A tropical storm, which will be named Barry, is expected to form in the northern Gulf of Mexico tonight or Thursday. For now, the National Hurricane Center has it designated “Potential Tropical Cyclone Two.” It will move westward, and then curve up to the Louisiana coast, where it is expected to make landfall Saturday as a category one hurricane.

Needless to say, this will have a big impact on coastal and inland weather across the Southeast in coming days.

GULF COAST: A Storm Surge Watch is in effect from the mouth of the Pearl River to Morgan City, Louisiana, and a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Morgan City. The main storm surge threat and wind threat will be along this segment of the Louisiana coast Friday night and Saturday as Barry approaches.

For the area from Dauphin Island to Gulf Shores to Destin to Panama City Beach, tropical bands of heavy rain are likely from time to time Thursday through Sunday. These bands will be established far east of the center of circulation. When they come through heavy rain is likely, and an isolated brief waterspout or tornado is possible. Also, dangerous rip currents are likely Thursday, Friday and over the weekend, and expect double red flags to be flying.

Rain amounts of 4-6 inches are likely Thursday through Sunday for Mobile and Baldwin counties in Alabama, and over to Pensacola. A flash flood watch has been issued. Amounts of 2-4 inches are expected at Destin and Panama City Beach.

The heaviest rain will come over parts of coastal Mississippi and much of south Louisiana, where more than 10 inches is likely.

On the positive side, there will be some good breaks in the rain, and you will see the sun at times on the coasts of Alabama and northwest Florida in coming days.

The weather on the coast will trend drier and the seas should be calmer by Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

INLAND PARTS OF ALABAMA: Thursday will be another hot, muggy day, but showers and storms should be more numerous during the afternoon as moisture levels rise. The high will be close to 90.

Friday through Sunday, the weather will be unsettled with occasional showers and thunderstorms each day. The amount of rain we receive will depend on the ultimate northward track of Barry, but much of the state will see at least 1 to 2 inches, with potential for as much as 4 inches in spots. For now severe storms are not expected, but with Barry to the west we might have a day with a low-end tornado threat (probably Sunday). Like the coast, we will see some nice breaks in the rain, and the sun will break out occasionally.

Heat levels will trend downward with highs in the 80s Friday and Saturday. Some places will hold in the 70s Sunday because of clouds and rain.

NEXT WEEK: Scattered to numerous showers and storms remain possible Monday; then we trend drier toward the middle of the week as the remnant circulation of Barry is swept away in the mid-latitude westerlies.

ON THIS DATE IN 1979: Hurricane Bob was born in the Gulf of Mexico, becoming the first Atlantic hurricane to be given a male name.

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