James Spann: Hot, mostly dry Friday ahead for Alabama

RADAR CHECK: As expected, we have only a handful of cooling showers across Alabama this afternoon; most places are dry with a partly to mostly sunny sky. Temperatures are in the mid to upper 90s, about 10 degrees above average for mid-September. The weather won’t change much Friday; look for a good supply of sunshine with a high well up in the 90s. The odds of any one spot seeing a shower remain small.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: The strong upper ridge that has been responsible for the hot weather will begin to weaken a bit, and we will bring in a chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms Saturday with a mix of sun and clouds. The chance of any one location seeing rain is around 30%, and the high will be in the 88- to 91-degree range. On Sunday, with deeper moisture arriving, we expect scattered showers and thunderstorms to become more numerous. Still, it won’t be a washout, and the high Sunday will be in the low to mid 80s.

NEXT WEEK: Confidence in the forecast is very low now since a tropical system will be involved. Alabama could see beneficial rain during the first half of the week, but if the center of the tropical system passes to the east, we will be on the dry side and rain amounts will be much lighter. For now we will maintain elevated rain chances Monday through Wednesday, and adjust the forecast as needed in coming days.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: The sky should be mostly clear for the high school games Friday night, with temperatures falling from the mid 80s at kickoff to near 80 by the final whistle.

Saturday, Alabama travels to Columbia to take on South Carolina (2:30 p.m. Central kickoff). The sky will be partly sunny with a kickoff temperature close to 90 degrees, falling back slightly into the upper 80s by the fourth quarter. A few widely scattered showers are possible in the region during the game.

Auburn hosts Kent State Saturday evening at Jordan-Hare Stadium (6:30 kickoff). We can’t rule out the risk of a passing shower during the game; otherwise, it will be mostly fair with temperatures falling from around 88 at kickoff into the low 80s by the end of the game.

Jacksonville State has a home game Saturday against Eastern Washington (3 p.m. kickoff). A few scattered showers are possible over east Alabama during the game; otherwise, expect a mix of sun and clouds with a temperature of 89 degrees at kickoff, falling into the mid 80s by the fourth quarter.

TROPICS: A tropical wave between the Lesser Antilles and the African coast has a medium chance of developing over the next five days; it’s too early to know whether this will affect the Gulf of Mexico or the U.S.

Invest 95L is over the Southeast Bahamas, and the National Hurricane Center still gives it a high chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm during the next 48 hours. If the system achieves tropical storm strength, it will get the name Humberto.

A reconnaissance aircraft is in the region gathering data, which will help us know more about the current state of the system. But until a low-level center is identified, computer models will be all over the board. Models are basically split into two camps; one set takes it to near Jacksonville, Florida, and then recurves the system out into the Atlantic. But another group pushes it to the central Gulf Coast (a wet solution for Alabama). We will have much better clarity within 24 hours as the system begins to get its act together.

Most intensity guidance suggests for now that Humberto will not become a hurricane, but mostly a tropical storm loaded with moisture and a big rain maker. It is simply too early to forecast impact for any specific point along the Gulf Coast, or in Alabama.

ON THIS DATE IN 1979: Hurricane Frederic made landfall about 10 p.m., passing over Dauphin Island, and crossed the coastline near the Alabama-Mississippi border. A wind gust of 145 mph was measured on equipment atop the Dauphin Island Bridge, which was destroyed. A wind gust of 139 mph was measured at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab before the equipment failed. A storm surge of 12 feet was observed in Gulf Shores. Nearly all structures within 200 yards of the Alabama coast were destroyed. There were two fatalities as a direct result of Frederic. Total damages were $2.3 billion, making Frederic the most expensive hurricane ever to strike the United States to that point. Get more details from NWS Mobile here.

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