James Spann: Alabama gets cooler Thursday, much colder next week

RADAR CHECK: Showers are developing over the Tennessee Valley region of north Alabama this afternoon. The chance of showers and storms will continue over the next several hours; a few strong storms are possible with small hail and gusty winds. The Storm Prediction Center maintains a marginal risk (level 1 out of 5) of severe storms for north Alabama through tonight.

Away from the showers, the sky is mostly cloudy with temperatures generally between 65 and 70 degrees.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: Cooler air slips into Alabama Thursday; the sky becomes partly sunny and the high will be in the 57- to 60-degree range. Any showers will be confined to the far southern counties of the state. Friday looks mostly dry, although the sky will be mostly cloudy. Afternoon temperatures will peak mostly in the upper 50s.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: A cold front will bring showers Saturday, but the air will be cool and stable and there is no risk of severe thunderstorms, and probably not much thunder. The high will be in the 50s and rain amounts should be less than one-half inch. Much colder air rolls in Sunday with a clearing sky and a high in the mid 40s, along with a brisk north wind.

MUCH COLDER NEXT WEEK: Dry and very cold weather is the story for the first half of the week. The highs Monday and Tuesday will be only in the 30s over the northern third of the state, and early morning temperatures will be well below freezing. For now it looks like the coldest morning will come early Tuesday, when temperatures will drop into the 15- to 22-degree range. Wednesday will be sunny with a high around 50. Then, clouds move back in Wednesday night, and some rain is possible Thursday or Friday with the next passing weather disturbance. There will be no threat of ice, snow or other winter mischief.

BRUTAL COLD UP NORTH: At 3 p.m. Devils Lake, North Dakota, was reporting snow flurries and a temperature of 12 degrees below zero, with a wind chill index of minus 35 degrees. This is the core of the air mass that will drop into the southern U.S. next week. Of course, it will modify by the time it reaches us.

ON THIS DATE IN 1967: The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in Super Bowl I at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. From the weather station at the USC campus in downtown LA, the high temperature was 79 degrees and the low was 51. There was a light west wind.

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