James Spann: Widespread, soaking rains for Alabama today

James Spann has the forecast for a rainy Thursday in Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

WET IS THE WORD: As a storm system slowly approaches Alabama, we expect a widespread, soaking rain event for the state over the next 36 hours. The heaviest rain is expected along and north of I-59, where a flood watch remains in effect (north of a line from Livingston to Tuscaloosa to Birmingham to Gadsden to Weiss Lake).

Rain amounts of 2-4 inches are likely in the flood watch area, with 1-2 inches for the southern half of the state through Friday night. The Weather Prediction Center has a moderate risk of excessive rain defined for northwest Alabama through tonight, when the heaviest rain is expected to fall. Periods of rain are still likely Friday, but the rain should be lighter.

We also note the Storm Prediction Center has a marginal risk (level 1 out of 5) of severe storms defined for parts of west and southwest Alabama later today and tonight, but instability values will not be especially high, and the higher severe-weather probabilities are over south Mississippi and southeast Louisiana.

Afternoon highs today and Friday will be in the 58- to 62-degree range for north Alabama, with low 70s possible for far south Alabama.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: A deep upper trough will pass over the state Saturday; models have trended a little more to the north with the core of the upper low, but still it looks like a mostly cloudy, colder day for the state with highs between 48 and 54. Some lingering light rain is possible Saturday morning; a few snowflakes are possible over Tennessee and Kentucky under the cold-core upper low, but no impact is expected there. Sunday will be a much brighter day, with sunshine back in full force. We start the day in the 28- to 32-degree range; the high Sunday will be in the mid 50s.

NEXT WEEK: The next wave will bring a chance of rain (mostly light) to Alabama Monday night into Tuesday, followed by another chance of rain on Friday, Jan. 10. Temperatures for the week look seasonal, with highs generally in the 50s.

There’s no sign of any extremely cold air for Alabama or the Southeast through midmonth; the Climate Prediction Center outlook for Jan. 9-15 suggests above-average temperatures for the eastern half of the nation.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: For the Birmingham Bowl today (Cincinnati vs. Boston College; 2 p.m. kickoff), the sky will be cloudy with rain likely throughout the game. Some thunder is possible, but not especially likely. Temperatures will hover in the 54- to 58-degree range.

ON THIS DATE IN 1955: Hurricane Alice passed through the Islands of Saint Martin and Saba in the Caribbean Sea. Alice, which developed on Dec. 30, 1954, is the only known Atlantic hurricane to span two calendar years.

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