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James Spann: Dry Friday for Alabama; showers, storms return over the weekend

James Spann forecasts a dry Friday, then a wetter weekend for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

ANOTHER NICE DAY AHEAD: With sunshine in full supply today, look for a high between 77 and 81 degrees this afternoon; the average high in Birmingham on April 15 is 75. Clouds will increase tonight, and showers and storms will likely move into the northwest counties of the state after midnight. The Storm Prediction Center has a low-end, marginal risk (level 1 out of 5) of severe thunderstorms defined for northwest Alabama after midnight; heavier storms could produce some small hail and gusty winds.

EASTER WEEKEND: The weather will be unsettled across Alabama and the Deep South with occasional showers and a few thunderstorms both days. But the weekend won’t be a washout, and the sun could peek out at times.

A few strong thunderstorms are possible; the SPC has defined a marginal risk (level 1) over about the southern two-thirds of the state Saturday, south of a line from Vernon to Birmingham to Ranburne; heavier storms could produce hail and gusty winds. There’s no risk of a tornado.

On Sunday, there is a slight risk (level 2 of 5) defined for southwest Alabama and a marginal risk (level 1) south of a line from Tuscaloosa to Clanton to Ranburne. Some hail is possible along with gusty winds. Rain amounts over the weekend will be 1-2 inches for most communities.

NEXT WEEK: A stray shower is possible in spots Monday, but the rest of the week is now looking dry as an upper ridge builds across the Deep South. Look for highs between 68 and 72 degrees early in the week, followed by low 80s by Friday, April 22.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: For the Alabama A Day game in Tuscaloosa Saturday (2 p.m. kickoff), the sky will be mostly cloudy with a few passing showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Temperatures will be in the low to mid 70s.

The Birmingham Stallions will host the New Jersey Generals Saturday evening at Protective Stadium (6:30 kickoff). Expect a mostly cloudy sky with a few showers; temperatures will fall from near 72 at kickoff into the upper 60s by the final whistle.

ON THIS DATE IN 2011: The “forgotten” tornado outbreak occurred, when 45 tornadoes touched down across Alabama. One of the large EF-3 tornadoes to strike central Alabama created a swath of damage from northeastern Greene County, just southeast of the community of Ralph, to just south of Veterans Memorial Parkway just east of Tuscaloosa in south-central Tuscaloosa County. Winds with this tornado were estimated at 140 mph, mainly uprooting and snapping trees. A few homes and businesses were damaged as the twister moved north of Shelton State Community College and crossed Alabama Highway 69 near Taylorville, crossing I-20/59 near Alabama Highway 82.

Another large EF-3 tornado struck the Myrtlewood and Pinhook communities of Marengo County with estimated winds of 150 mph. Several dozen single-family and mobile homes were destroyed or severely damaged. One person was killed when his mobile home was tossed several hundred feet across Alabama Highway 69.

Another EF-3 tornado moved through the Boones Chapel community in northern Autauga County. This twister was the third one to affect the same general area for the day, but this one was a killer. Three people were killed and four were seriously injured as the tornado destroyed the manufactured home they were in. In all, at least 50 homes and one business were either destroyed or significantly damaged.

The event was forgotten by many because of what would happen 12 days later, on April 27, 2011, when a generational tornado outbreak would kill 252 people in our state.

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