James Spann: Cold, dry weather continues for Alabama

James Spann: Cold and dry in Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

FRIGID AIR: Temperatures are generally between 20 and 25 degrees over the northern half of Alabama; they have been holding steady through the night thanks to a deck of mid-level clouds that moved in. Our Skywatcher at Black Creek (near Gadsden), Vic Bell, did drop to 16 degrees at midnight last night before the clouds moved in. We have freezing temperatures all the way down to the Gulf Coast; Mobile reported 28 degrees just before daybreak. As expected, we have received a few reports of light snow flurries over north Alabama early this morning, but there is no impact.

Today will be sunny and cold with a high between 38 and 42 for the northern half of the state; the average high for Jan. 21 at Birmingham is 54. Tonight will be another very cold one with a significant freeze; colder pockets across north Alabama will likely visit the upper teens early Wednesday morning, with 20s elsewhere. A warming trend begins Wednesday afternoon as temperatures rise into the low 50s. The air stays dry and the sky will be partly to mostly sunny.

RAIN RETURNS: Clouds move back into the state Thursday, and rain could enter the western counties by afternoon. Rain becomes widespread Thursday night and will end from west to east during the day Friday. For now it looks like the main window will come from about 4 p.m. Thursday until 2 p.m. Friday. Rain amounts of one-half to 1 inch are likely, and there is no risk of severe storms. Thunder will be confined to the southwest part of the state. Afternoon highs Thursday and Friday will be in the 50s.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: The weekend looks dry with seasonal temperatures; we are forecasting a partly sunny sky Saturday and Sunday with highs in the low to mid 50s. A light freeze is likely early Sunday morning.

NEXT WEEK: Monday and Tuesday will be dry; the next rain event will come Wednesday, Jan. 29, possibly lingering into Thursday. Temperatures will slowly trend upward and we will see highs in the low 60s by midweek.

ON THIS DATE IN 1985: The temperature at Birmingham dropped to 6 degrees below zero, the second-coldest on record for the city. Jacksonville, Florida, recorded its all-time record low of 7 degrees. Macon, Georgia, had its coldest day ever at 6 degrees. It was the coldest Inauguration Day in history as President Ronald Reagan was sworn in for a second term during cold and winds that resulted in wind chill readings of 30 degrees below zero. Because of the bitter cold temperatures, many of the outdoor Inauguration events were canceled and Reagan was sworn in the Capitol Rotunda.

ON THIS DATE IN 1999: A major tornado outbreak occurred from southwest into central and northeast Arkansas during the afternoon and evening. Thirty tornadoes tracked across 15 counties. Homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed in areas like Little Rock, Beebe, McRae and areas farther north and east. Eight deaths and 140 to 150 injuries resulted from the tornadoes.

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