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James Spann: Cooler for Alabama today; Nicole to bring rain Thursday night/Friday morning

James Spann has the midweek forecast for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

COOLER: Our November heat wave has ended; we project a high today between 70 and 75 degrees, thanks to a backdoor front that pulled cooler air in from the northeast last night. The air is dry and the sky will be sunny.

RAIN RETURNS: Clouds will increase across the state Thursday, and rain will push into the southeast counties Thursday afternoon ahead of Tropical Storm Nicole. A large rain shield will move through the eastern two-thirds of the state Thursday night, with some lingering rain possible over northeast Alabama Friday morning. Models are more aggressive with pushing rain into the state; it now looks like amounts of 1-2 inches are likely over the eastern counties. Communities over far west Alabama will see little rain.

Winds will also increase; gusts in the 40-45 mph range are likely over southeast Alabama Thursday afternoon. Gusts of 30-40 mph are possible over east-central and northeast Alabama Thursday night into early Friday morning. Clouds will linger Friday with a high in the 60s.

COLD WEEKEND: The coldest air so far this season will roll into the state over the weekend, with highs dropping into the 50s. Temperatures go into the subfreezing range early Sunday, with a low between 26 and 32 degrees over the northern half of the state. Saturday will feature a partly sunny sky with a gusty north wind, and Sunday will be sunny.

NEXT WEEK: Another freeze is likely early Monday morning. The day will be dry with a high in the 50s Monday afternoon. Clouds increase Monday night, and global models bring a disturbance into the state Tuesday with a good chance of rain at times. The weather looks dry Wednesday through Friday with temperatures remaining below average — highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s and 40s.EYES ON NICOLE: Tropical Storm Nicole, with winds of 70 mph, is about 250 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida, early this morning. The system could become a Category 1 hurricane later today as it moves over the northern Bahamas. Landfall comes late tonight along the Atlantic coast of Florida, either as an upper-end tropical storm or minimal hurricane. A hurricane warning remains in effect from Boca Raton to the Flagler-Volusia County line.A dangerous storm surge is expected along much of the east coast of Florida and portions of coastal Georgia, where a storm surge warning is in effect. The storm surge will be accompanied by large, damaging waves. Nicole will produce heavy rainfall today into Thursday across the Florida Peninsula. Flash and urban flooding will be likely across portions of the peninsula along with possible renewed rises on the St. Johns River. Isolated flash, urban and small-stream flooding will also be possible Friday in the Southeast through the southern and central Appalachians, including the Blue Ridge Mountains, extending northward through west-central Pennsylvania into western New York by Friday night.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: The weather will be dry for the high school playoff games Friday night across Alabama, but it will be mostly cloudy and breezy, with temperatures falling into the 50s.

Saturday, Alabama travels to Oxford to take on Ole Miss (2:30 p.m. kickoff). The sky will be mostly sunny with temperatures in the mid to upper 40s and a brisk, chilly north wind.

UAB will host North Texas at Protective Stadium in downtown Birmingham Saturday (2:30 p.m. kickoff). The sky will be partly sunny with a kickoff temperature around 52 degrees, falling into the 40s by the final whistle.

Auburn hosts Texas A&M Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium (6:30 p.m. kickoff). The sky will be clear with temperatures falling from near 47 at kickoff into the low 40s by the final whistle.

ON THIS DATE IN 1926: An estimated F3 to F4 tornado tore through La Plata, Maryland, killing 14 people at a small school. This storm killed 17 people and injured 65 others.

BEACH FORECAST: Click here to see the AlabamaWx Beach Forecast Center page.

For more weather news and information from James Spann and his team, visit AlabamaWx.