James Spann: Mostly dry weekend ahead for Alabama

SUNNY SPRING DAY: A dry air mass continues to cover Alabama this afternoon; with a partly to mostly sunny sky, temperatures are in the 70s at mid-afternoon. The sky will be fair tonight with a low in the 50s.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Dry weather continues Saturday; with a partly sunny sky, the high will be in the upper 70s. On Sunday, expect a mix of sun and clouds with just a few widely scattered showers or thunderstorms. Most places will be dry, and the high will be close to 80 degrees.

NEXT WEEK: The week looks fairly warm, with highs between 77 and 81 on most days. With a moist air mass in place we will have a daily risk of random, scattered showers and storms. The highest coverage of rain will most likely come Tuesday as a short wave aloft passes over, but even then it won’t rain all day.

ON THIS DAY IN 1987: An unexpected late-season winter storm brought 6 inches of snow to Birmingham. The highest total in the state was 10 inches at Valley Head in DeKalb County. There was measurable snow as far south as Montgomery, Linden and Camden.

ON THIS DATE IN 1974: The “Superoutbreak” of tornadoes ravaged the Midwest and the eastern U.S. Severe weather erupted early in the afternoon and continued through the next day. Severe thunderstorms spawned 148 tornadoes from Alabama to Michigan, most of which occurred between 1 p.m. April 3 and 1 a.m. April 4. The tornadoes killed 315 people, injured 5,300 others and caused $600 million damage. Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio were especially hard hit. In Alabama, there were at least eight tornadoes, including four extremely intense, long-lived storms. Eighty-six people were killed, 949 were injured and damages exceeded $50 million. Sixteen counties in the northern part of the state were hit the hardest.

 

An EF-5 tore through the town of Guin in Marion County, killing 25 people and producing catastrophic damage. As it moved northeast, it bit into deep gorges and exposed ridges, and destroyed much timber in the Bankhead National Forest. Shortly after this the tornado lifted, but another tornado moved northeast to strike south Huntsville. There was severe damage at the Redstone Arsenal. Staff members at the Weather Service Office in Huntsville were forced to temporarily abandon their hectic duties. Shortly after 11 p.m. this final storm of the outbreak in Alabama moved across Monte Sano (elevation 1,640 feet), just east of Huntsville, and broke up over western Jackson County. Another violent tornado hit downtown Jasper; it moved northeast and heavily damaged a four-block area in southeast Cullman.

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