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James Spann: Rain, storms for Alabama Wednesday; colder air to follow

James Spann forecasts a quiet Tuesday for Alabama before rain, storms arrive Wednesday from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

MOSTLY DRY TUESDAY: While an isolated shower could pop up today, most of the state will be dry. Expect a mostly cloudy sky with a high in the 60s for most places; low 70s are likely near the coast.

ACTIVE DAY WEDNESDAY: A dynamic weather system will bring the dual threat of heavy rain and severe thunderstorms to Alabama Wednesday. The Storm Prediction Center has now defined an enhanced risk (level 3 out of 5) of severe thunderstorms for southwest Alabama — areas west of a line from York to Monroeville to Brewton. A slight risk (level 2) extends as far north as Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Abbeville, and a marginal risk is in place to Birmingham.The core severe weather threat will be over the southern third of the state. The air over north Alabama is expected to be cool and stable. The higher tornado threat will be in the enhanced risk over southwest Alabama. While a few storms could form during the afternoon (as early as noon), the core threat will come later, from about 5 p.m. until midnight. The threat will linger after midnight across southeast Alabama.

People in places like Mobile, Fairhope, Gulf Shores, Atmore, Jackson, Grove Hill, Monroeville and Butler need to be sure you have a good way of hearing warnings if they are needed, and a good tornado safety plan.

A soaking rain is likely statewide; amounts could exceed 2 inches across much of the state, and isolated flooding is possible by Wednesday night. The rain will end from west to east late Wednesday night and before dawn Thursday. The sky will become mostly sunny Thursday with a high between 56 and 63 degrees.

FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: The weather looks dry for most of the state with a trend toward colder temperatures. A disturbance will bring some clouds into the state Saturday and a sprinkle is possible a few spots, but the air will be dry, and the best chance of rain will be over the northern Gulf of Mexico. Highs will be in the 40s and 50s, and we drop below freezing by early Sunday morning for first time since Dec. 1.

NEXT WEEK AND BEYOND: Some light rain is possible Monday or Tuesday; otherwise, the week looks dry with highs in the 40s and 50s, and lows mostly in the 20s and 30s. We continue to see strong signals in global models of very cold air moving into the Deep South around Christmas. But Dec. 25 is still 12 days away and there is no skill in a specific forecast for now.

ON THIS DATE IN 1997: A freak cold snap and snowstorm struck parts of northern Mexico, leaving 12 people dead and the area paralyzed. It snowed in the city of Guadalajara for the first time since 1881, leaving amazed residents to gawk at the stuff and make snowmen. The temperature plunged to 5 degrees in Chihuahua.

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.