James Spann: Cold night for Alabama; dry through Friday

CLOUDLESS SKY: A very dry air mass is in place across Alabama this afternoon. Not a cloud in the sky, and temperatures are mostly between 45 and 52 degrees. The average high for Birmingham on Jan. 10 is 54. Tonight will be clear and cold, with a low in the mid to upper 20s for most communities.

The rest of the week will be dry with seasonal temperatures — highs mostly in the 50s and lows mostly in the 30s. Expect mostly sunny days and fair nights, a very quiet pattern for mid-January.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: A disturbance will bring rain showers back to Alabama Saturday. Moisture will be limited, and there won’t be any surface-based instability available. So rain amounts should be less than one-half inch, and we aren’t expecting any thunderstorms. Temperatures could hold in the 40s over far north Alabama, and parts of Tennessee could see some light snow Saturday from this system. Sunday will be mostly sunny and cool, with a high in the low 50s.

NEXT WEEK: The pattern still looks rather quiet through the first half of the week; global models suggest a chance of rain Thursday, Jan. 20.

ON THIS DATE IN 1975: At least 13 tornadoes touched down across Alabama, including an EF-3 in St. Clair County that hit Pell City. Here is the storm summary of the damage area from Robert M. Ferry, meteorologist-in-charge, WSFO Birmingham:

“Friday afternoon, Jan. 10, 1975, a tornado moved northeastward across the center of downtown Pell City, Alabama, and stopped the First National Bank Clock at 4:11 p.m. Many buildings, mostly homes, were heavily damaged by large trees (some 5 to 6 feet in diameter near the trunk) uprooted and falling across them. Seven mobile homes were completely destroyed in a small trailer park (Smith’s) which is about one mile northeast of Pell City. The Red Cross reported that 33 people were taken to the hospital for treatment where only three were admitted — those, not too serious. There were no injuries in the trailer park because residents had taken shelter in a nearby brick building. None of the trailers had tie-downs.

Around 4:25 p.m., apparently the same tornado that struck Pell City hit the small town of Ragland, which is around 15 miles to the northeast. Ragland High School sustained extensive damage to its prefabricated (flat) roof and windows. Several homes were damaged, while one mobile home and a cement block building were completely destroyed. One man was killed inside the poorly constructed cement block building. There was very little observable damage to trees and other buildings within a reasonable distance to the block building. No other injuries were reported in Ragland.”

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