James Spann: Rain returns to Alabama Saturday, a few snow flakes Sunday

James Spann forecasts a dry end to the Alabama work week, then weekend rain from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

DRY THROUGH FRIDAY: Pleasant winter weather continues across Alabama through Friday. Look for partly to mostly sunny days with highs between 56 and 60 degrees for most communities. Clouds will increase Friday night as the next weather system approaches.

SATURDAY: Saturday will be cloudy with a high in the mid to upper 50s. Rain will move into the western counties by midday, and widespread rain is expected statewide by late afternoon into Saturday night. This will be a good soaking, with amounts of 1-2 inches likely. A few strong thunderstorms are possible along the Gulf Coast; the Storm Prediction Center has defined a low-end marginal risk of severe thunderstorms from near Pensacola over to Carrabelle, Florida.

SNOW SUNDAY? There isn’t much change in our thinking for Sunday. Rain will end early Sunday as a slot of drier air works into the state, and much colder air will drop southward with temperatures falling into the mid 30s over the northern counties. Snow showers will likely develop over north Alabama in the cold air during the day Sunday.

Some light, spotty accumulation is possible, mainly on grassy areas Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening where snow showers develop. Higher probabilities of getting some snow on the ground are across the northeast counties. Temperatures will likely be in the mid 30s (above freezing) as the snow falls, and initially travel impact is not expected as roads will be just wet.

Some patchy black ice is possible Sunday night on bridges where water lingers and temperatures go below freezing.

The main winter impact with the weekend system will be northeast of Alabama, across the Carolinas, Virginia and West Virginia. And, of course, the forecast could change, so watch for updates over the next few days.

NEXT WEEK: Monday will be cold and dry with a high in the 40s; temperatures return to the 50s Tuesday. Some light rain is possible late Wednesday and Wednesday night, followed by colder, drier air Thursday and Friday.ON THIS DATE IN 1982: Much of the eastern and southern U.S. (including Alabama) was in the midst of a severe cold wave and ice/snow event. In Washington, D.C., that day, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River. Striking the bridge, it hit seven occupied vehicles and destroyed 97 feet of guard rail before plunging through the ice into the Potomac River. The aircraft was carrying 74 passengers and five crew members. Only four passengers and one crew member (a flight attendant) were rescued from the crash and survived. Another passenger, Arland D. Williams Jr., assisted in the rescue of the survivors, but drowned before he could be rescued. Four motorists on the bridge were killed. The survivors were rescued from the icy river by civilians and professionals.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the cause of the accident was pilot error. The pilots failed to switch on the engines’ internal ice protection systems, used reverse thrust in a snowstorm prior to takeoff, tried to use the jet exhaust of a plane in front of them to melt their ice, and failed to abandon the takeoff even after detecting a power problem while taxiing and having ice and snow build up on the wings.

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