James Spann: Higher rain chances ahead for Alabama

RADAR CHECK: We have scattered showers mainly over the western half of Alabama this afternoon, moving northward. Away from the showers we have a mix of sun and clouds with temperatures in the 80s. We will maintain the chance of a few passing showers tonight, mostly over the western counties.

Moisture levels will rise across Alabama and the Deep South in coming days, meaning rain coverage will increase daily. Look for scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms Tuesday with a high in the low 80s. Wednesday and Thursday look pretty wet, with occasional rain and some thunder as well as the remnant circulation of Tropical Storm Nicholas moves into west Mississippi; temperatures will likely remain in the 70s both days because of clouds and rain.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: Deep moisture will remain across Alabama, so the sky will be occasionally cloudy Friday through Sunday with scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms each day. The chance of any one spot getting wet is 60-70% Friday and 50-60% over the weekend. Highs will be mostly in the low 80s.

NEXT WEEK: Moist air means some risk of at least scattered showers and thunderstorms daily with highs in the low to mid 80s.

TROPICAL STORM NICHOLAS: Nicholas has winds of 60 mph, and the center is about 70 miles south/southeast of Port Aransas, Texas. Landfall will come tonight along the middle Texas coast.

Heavy rainfall will affect portions of the Texas and Louisiana coasts through the middle of the week. Significant rainfall amounts are possible (6-10 inches), potentially resulting in areas of life-threatening flash and urban flooding, especially in highly urbanized metropolitan areas, including Houston. Minor to isolated moderate river flooding is also expected.

There is the danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation along the coast of Texas from Port Aransas to Sabine Pass. Residents in these areas should follow any advice given by local officials. The remnant low will move through Louisiana Wednesday, and the system will dissipate over west Mississippi Thursday morning.

OTHER AREAS TO WATCH IN THE TROPICS: An area of low pressure is forecast to form by midweek a couple of hundred miles north of the southeastern or central Bahamas as a tropical wave interacts with an upper-level trough. Some gradual development of this system is possible thereafter, and a tropical depression could form later this week while the system moves north-northwestward or northward across the western Atlantic. This will move parallel to the U.S. East Coast but will likely remain offshore.

A tropical wave over the far eastern tropical Atlantic is producing an area of disorganized cloudiness and thunderstorms. Environmental conditions are forecast to be conducive for gradual development of this disturbance over the next several days, and a tropical depression is likely to form by late this week while the system moves westward at about 15 mph across the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean. It’s too early to know whether this will affect the Lesser Antilles or the U.S.

ON THIS DATE IN 1979: Hurricane Frederic was moving northward through Mobile Bay before dawn after making landfall on the night of Sept. 12. A wind gust of 145 mph was measured on equipment atop the Dauphin Island Bridge, which was destroyed. A wind gust of 139 mph was measured at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab before the equipment failed. A storm surge of 12 feet was observed in Gulf Shores. Nearly all structures within 200 yards of the Alabama coast were destroyed. There were two fatalities as a direct result of Frederic. Total damages were $2.3 billion, making Frederic the most expensive hurricane ever to strike the United States to that point.

ON THIS DATE IN 1988: Hurricane Gilbert smashed into the Cayman Islands, and as it headed for the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico it strengthened into a monster hurricane, packing winds of 175 mph. The barometric pressure at the center of Gilbert reached 888 millibars, a record for any hurricane in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean until Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Gilbert covered much of the Gulf of Mexico, producing rain as far away as the Florida Keys.

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