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James Spann: Rain chances rising for Alabama; heat levels lower by Sunday

RADAR CHECK: We have scattered showers and thunderstorms on radar this afternoon over the southern half of the state — mainly south of U.S. 80 and east of I-65. The rest of the state is under a partly sunny, hazy sky with temperatures between 88 and 92 degrees. Scattered storms over south Alabama will fade after sunset, and tonight will be mostly fair with a low in the upper 60s and low 70s.THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: The weather won’t change too much Saturday; it will still be hot, hazy and humid with the best chance of scattered showers and storms over the southern half of the state. Odds of a shower or storm for any one spot over north Alabama have dropped into the 15-25% range. The high will be close to 90 degrees. Where storms do form they could be strong, with potential for some hail and strong, gusty winds; the Storm Prediction Center has added a low-end marginal risk (level 1 out of 5) of severe thunderstorms for much of the state.On Sunday the ridge over the region weakens, and with the approach of a cold front showers and storms will become more numerous statewide. It won’t rain all day, but periods of rain are likely, and a strong thunderstorm can’t be ruled out. Heat levels drop considerably as most places will see a high around 80 degrees.

NEXT WEEK: Rain chances will remain elevated Monday through Thursday as a moist, unstable air mass will remain in place. A few strong storms will be possible Thursday as a cold front approaches, and then the latest global model data suggests drier air will be back into the state Friday, just in time for the holiday weekend. Highs will be in the 80s.

GETTING DRY: Birmingham has received only 0.05 inch of rain in the last 18 days. The last day with more than 1 inch was April 16, when the total was 2.59 inches. The surplus for the year is down to 4.92 inches.

FOOTBALL WEATHER: The Birmingham Stallions host the Michigan Panthers Saturday (6:30 p.m. kickoff) at Protective Stadium; the weather will be warm and humid with an outside risk of a passing shower. Temperatures will fall from near 86 degrees at kickoff to near 80 by the final whistle.

ON THIS DATE IN 1957: A tornado touched down southwest of Kansas City and traveled 71 miles, cutting a swath of near destruction through the southeastern suburbs of Ruskin Heights and Hickman Mills. The tornado claimed the lives of 45 people and left hundreds homeless. It was the worst weather disaster on record for Kansas City.

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