James Spann: Only isolated showers for north, central Alabama this weekend as U.S. watches Cristobal

RADAR CHECK: There are multiple clusters of showers and strong thunderstorms across Alabama this afternoon, but as usual it is not raining everywhere. Away from the showers, we are seeing some low 90s over the western side of the state, but some communities have cooled down into the 70s because of clouds and rain. The Storm Prediction Center maintains a marginal risk of severe storms for the northern two-thirds of Alabama tonight; heavier thunderstorms could produce strong winds and small hail.

Showers and storms will fade away tonight as the air cools and becomes more stable.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Despite a tropical system approaching the Gulf Coast, it sure looks like a decent part of the weekend will be hot and dry for north and central Alabama. Look for partly sunny days, highs around 90 and only isolated showers or thunderstorms.

NEXT WEEK: Scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible Monday and should become more numerous Tuesday and Wednesday as deeper moisture is pulled northward. Expect drier air to roll in here Thursday and Friday with few, if any, showers on those two days.

CRISTOBAL: Cristobal is now back over the southern Gulf of Mexico and has regained tropical storm status. Sustained winds are now 40 mph, and some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours. The system is still expected to move inland somewhere on the Louisiana coast Sunday evening as a tropical storm. Hurricane strength is not expected because of dry mid-level air and some shear.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida border.

Here is the projected impact for the Alabama and northwest Florida Gulf Coast region from Dauphin Island and Gulf Shores east to Panama City Beach.

FORECAST: The weather on the Gulf Coast is very nice this afternoon, mostly sunny with only isolated showers and storms. Clouds will increase Saturday, and a large area of rain will likely move onshore by afternoon, continuing Saturday night. On Sunday the sun could break out at times, but occasional showers and a few storms are likely. It will not be an all-day kind of rain on this part of the Gulf Coast.

RAIN AMOUNTS: Rain totals Saturday through Sunday night will be in the 2- to 4-inch range, with potential for higher amounts in a few spots. The heavier rain amounts should be to the west, over southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi, where flash flood watches are in effect.

RIP CURRENTS: Dangerous rip currents are likely through Sunday, and red flags will continue to fly this weekend. Stay out of the water.

WINDS: Sustained winds will be in the 20-30 mph range Sunday and Sunday night; gusts to 45 mph are possible along the Alabama Gulf Coast and gusts to 40 mph along the Florida coast. Higher wind velocities most likely will be just to the west, over the coast of Mississippi and southeast Louisiana.

A few isolated waterspouts or brief tornadoes are possible Sunday and Sunday night as well.

NEXT WEEK: The weather improves Monday, and most of next week looks nice with routine summer weather. We expect about seven to nine hours of sunshine daily with the usual risk of a passing shower or thunderstorm from time to time.

INLAND IMPACT: The heaviest rain will remain west of Alabama Sunday and Monday. In fact, most of north and central Alabama will be dry Sunday. Deeper moisture will be drawn northward early next week, however, and we expect an increase in the number of scattered showers and thunderstorms for inland Alabama Tuesday and Wednesday.

ON THIS DATE IN 1976: When water began leaking from Idaho’s new Teton Dam, there seemed to be no cause for alarm. On this date, however, warnings were frantic that the dam was about to break. As workers tried to shore up the crumbling dam, it failed shortly after 11 a.m., sending 180 billion gallons of water pouring through Teton Canyon. Eleven people lost their lives, but the toll would have been much higher if the dam had failed at night and residents had been asleep.

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