James Spann: Hotter, drier pattern begins for Alabama by the weekend

RADAR CHECK: We have a number of showers and thunderstorms across Alabama this afternoon; the stronger storms are producing heavy rain. But the sun is out in some places with temperatures mostly in the 80s. We note a slow cyclonic motion with the showers today thanks to a broad low-pressure area over Alabama; showers and storms will fade late tonight.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: Look for a mix of sun and clouds both days with scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms, most active during the afternoon and evening hours. The chance of any one spot getting wet is 65-75% Thursday and 50-60% Friday. The high will be in the mid 80s Thursday, followed by upper 80s Friday.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: An upper ridge begins to build across the region, and that will begin the trend toward hotter, drier weather for Alabama. Look for a partly to mostly sunny sky Saturday and Sunday with just a few isolated afternoon and evening thunderstorms. The chance of rain for any given location both days is 15-25%, and highs will be at or just over 90 degrees.

NEXT WEEK: The ridge holds, so on most days we will see a good supply of hazy sunshine with just a few isolated, random, pop-up showers and storms during the afternoon and evening hours. Afternoon highs will be in the low to mid 90s — generally between 91 and 94 degrees. It should be the hottest week so far this summer.

TROPICS: The Atlantic basin is quiet this afternoon. But a broad trough of low pressure associated with a decaying frontal boundary over Mississippi and Alabama is forecast to move offshore of the southeastern United States coastline by the end of this week. Environmental conditions are forecast to be marginally conducive for some gradual development over the weekend into early next week while the system meanders off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and northeastern Florida. For now the chance of development is 20% over the next five days.

No tropical development is forecast for the Gulf of Mexico through early next week.

RAIN UPDATE: These are rain totals for July so far this year, and the wettest Julys on record. This is data from the larger cities in the state with long-term climate records. No records are in danger despite all the recent rain.

  • Huntsville so far this month — 7.34 inches; Huntsville’s wettest July was in 1967, with 14.81 inches.
  • Mobile so far this month — 6.17 inches; Mobile’s wettest July was in 1916, with 20.5 inches.
  • Birmingham so far this month — 6.07 inches; Birmingham’s wettest July was in 1916, with 20.12 inches.
  • Montgomery so far this month — 3.8 inches; Montgomery’s wettest July was in 1916, with 13.34 inches.

ON THIS DATE IN 1987: An F4 tornado ravaged the Teton Wilderness and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The tornado’s violent winds destroyed millions of trees on a 24.3-mile track that traversed the Continental Divide at an elevation of 10,170 feet.

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