James Spann: Alabama gets wet, then colder, then much colder in days ahead

DELIGHTFUL DAY: With sunshine in full supply, we have temperatures in the 70s across Alabama this afternoon. Enjoy it, because this will be the warmest day out of at least the next 10 days as a cold pattern becomes established. Clouds will increase late tonight ahead of a cold front.

RAIN RETURNS: Thursday will be cloudy with a high in the 60s; rain will push into north Alabama during the day ahead of the front. It looks like the main window for meaningful rain for north and central Alabama will come from noon until midnight, but we can’t rule out a few morning showers as well, mainly north of I-20. Rain amounts should be less than one-half inch for most places, and I doubt if we have any thunder because of stable air in place.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: The sky will be mostly sunny Friday, but the day will be breezy and much colder, with a high between 50 and 55. Look for a low in the 28- to 33-degree range by daybreak Saturday with a clear sky.

The day Saturday will be sunny with a high around 60, and we reach the mid-60s Sunday with a good supply of sunshine.

NEXT WEEK: A cold front will pass through the state Monday night, and that will represent the leading edge of the coldest air so far this season. New model runs are in, and now both global models (the American GFS and the European ECMWF) show a band of moisture ahead of the front, meaning we will need to mention a chance of rain Monday night. Then, on Tuesday, as the cold air rushes into the state, there is some evidence that the rain could briefly change to snow flurries or sleet before the precipitation ends. There is absolutely no skill in forecasting something like this six days in advance, but typically in a setup like this there is no impact from flurries if we get them. Output from model ensembles suggests little in the way of meaningful frozen precipitation for now.

The big story is the cold air. Temperatures Tuesday could hold in the 30s all day over the northern half of the state, and by Wednesday morning, as the sky clears, the low will be near 20. Colder pockets have a great chance of seeing upper teens. The record low for Nov. 13 at Birmingham is 22, set in 1911; that 108-year-old record could very well be in danger.

Temperatures will slowly moderate over the latter half of the week.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: It will be clear and cold for the high school games Friday night, with temperatures falling through the 40s.

Alabama hosts LSU Saturday in Tuscaloosa at Bryant-Denny Stadium (2:30 p.m. kickoff). The weather could not be any better for the biggest college game of the year — a sunny sky, with temperatures falling from near 61 at kickoff into the mid 50s by the final whistle. Sunset Saturday in Tuscaloosa comes at 4:52 p.m., so the fourth quarter will be played under the lights.

UAB will take on Southern Miss in Hattiesburg Saturday (2:30 p.m. kickoff). Expect clear weather for the game with temperatures falling from near 66 at kickoff to near 60 by the fourth quarter.

Jacksonville State will take on Tennessee Tech Saturday (kickoff at 1:30 p.m. Central) in Cookeville; the sky will be sunny with temperatures in the 55- to 60-degree range during the game.

ON THIS DATE IN 1977: The Kelly Barnes Dam, an earthen embankment in Stephens County, Georgia, just outside the city of Toccoa, collapsed after heavy rainfall. The resulting flood killed 39 people and caused $2.8 million in damage. The dam was never rebuilt, and the Toccoa Falls downstream of the dam site is now a memorial and tourist attraction on the campus of Toccoa Falls College. After the flood, Georgia’s Gov. George Busbee called for an immediate investigation, which was carried out by a Federal Investigative Board of the United States Geological Survey. Its report was released Dec. 21, 1977, with no specific causes cited for the failure.

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