James Spann: Alabama heat levels back off over the weekend

TOO HOT: Temperatures are generally in the mid to upper 90s across Alabama this afternoon. Birmingham reported 97 degrees at 2:30 p.m., one degree away from the record high for Sept. 13 — 98, set in 1927. There are a few showers and storms on radar, but they are widely separated and will dissipate once the sun goes down.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: The upper ridge responsible for the heat will weaken over the weekend, meaning lower heat levels. The high Saturday will drop into the 88- to 92-degree range, and scattered showers and thunderstorms should be more numerous. Sunday looks mostly dry with a good supply of sunshine and a high in the low 90s.

NEXT WEEK: A dry air mass will be in place across Alabama, meaning mostly sunny days and fair nights Monday through Wednesday with highs in the low 90s. A few scattered showers and storms are possible late in the week, but for now widespread rain is not expected.

RAIN UPDATE: Birmingham’s rain total for the year is 36.72 inches; the deficiency is 1.92 inches. The new U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows a decent part of east Alabama in drought conditions; west Alabama is in much better shape.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: The sky will be mostly fair tonight for the high school games across the state, with temperatures falling from the upper 80s at kickoff to near 80 by the final whistle.

Saturday afternoon Alabama will play South Carolina in Columbia (2:30 p.m. Central kickoff). The sky will be partly sunny with a kickoff temperature near 89 degrees, falling into the mid-80s by the fourth quarter. A brief shower or storm can’t be ruled out, but they should be widely spaced.

Auburn hosts Kent State Saturday evening at Jordan-Hare Stadium (kickoff at 6). There’s just an outside risk of a shower during the first half; otherwise, the weather will be mostly fair with temperatures falling from around 90 at kickoff to near 80 by the end of the game.

Jacksonville State will host Eastern Washington Saturday afternoon (kickoff at 3). A passing shower or storm is possible during the game; otherwise it will be partly sunny with temperatures falling from the upper 80s at kickoff into the mid-80s by the final whistle.

TROPICS: Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine is forecast to become Tropical Storm Humberto within the next 24 hours; it will recurve just off the Florida east coast in coming days and is now forecast to become a hurricane as it moves away from the U.S. by Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. This system will have no impact on Alabama.

The National Hurricane Center is also monitoring two tropical waves in the Atlantic between Africa and the Lesser Antilles; both have a medium chance of development over the next five days. It’s too early to know whether they will affect the Gulf of Mexico or the U.S.

ON THIS DATE IN 1988: Hurricane Gilbert smashed into the Cayman Islands, and as it headed for the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico strengthened into a monster hurricane, packing winds of 175 mph. The barometric pressure at the center of Gilbert reached 26.13 inches of mercury, a record for any hurricane in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. Gilbert covered much of the Gulf of Mexico, producing rain as far away as the Florida Keys.

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