James Spann: Coldest air so far this season arrives in Alabama tonight

RADAR CHECK: Showers continue ahead of a sharp cold front across east and south Alabama this afternoon. North of the front, temperatures are now below freezing across northwest Alabama and the Tennessee Valley, but south of the boundary some spots have hit the low 70s. The front will continue southward this evening, and the coldest air so far this season will settle into the state. By daybreak we project lows between 18 and 24 degrees, with a wind chill index as low as 10 degrees. The sky will gradually clear overnight.

A Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect for Lauderdale, Colbert, Limestone, Madison and Jackson counties this evening due to the potential for black ice on bridges; all other counties have been removed from the advisory.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: Friday will be sunny but cold, with a high between 37 and 41 degrees. On Saturday, after we start the day in the 20s, afternoon temperatures rise into the 50s with a mostly sunny sky. Clouds move in Saturday night and rain is likely statewide Sunday as another cold front approaches. Some thunder is possible, but for now severe storms are not expected. Sunday’s high will be between 57 and 62 degrees.

NEXT WEEK: Monday will feature a clearing sky, and another shot of colder air arrives with a high back in the mid to upper 40s. The rest of the week looks quiet, with dry conditions through at least Thursday. Temperatures most of the week will be rather seasonal, with highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s.

ON THIS DATE IN 1886: The “Great Blizzard of 1886” struck the Midwest with high winds, subzero temperatures and heavy snowfall. These conditions caused as many as 100 deaths, and 80% of the cattle in Kansas perished.

ON THIS DATE IN 1996: A severe nor’easter paralyzed the East Coast from Jan. 6 to Jan. 8. In Washington D.C., this storm is also known as the “Great Furlough Storm” because it occurred during the 1996 federal government shutdown. Snowfall amounts from this event include 47 inches in Big Meadows, Virginia; 30.7 inches in Philadelphia; 27.8 inches in Newark; 24.6 inches at the Dulles International Airport; 24.2 inches in Trenton; 24 inches in Providence; 22.5 inches in Baltimore; 18.2 inches in Boston; 17.1 inches in D.C.; and 9.6 inches in Pittsburgh.

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