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James Spann: Warmer in Alabama through Friday; cold air, snow arrive early Saturday

James Spann forecasts a temporary warm-up for Alabama from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

WARMER: Clouds linger across Alabama this morning with a few isolated showers, but the sky becomes partly to mostly sunny later this morning, and temperatures should rise into the upper 60s this afternoon as a temporary warming trend begins. We reach the mid 70s Friday with a mix of sun and clouds, but the warmth won’t last long. A cold front moves into the state Friday night with rain and thunderstorms. The Storm Prediction Center maintains a slight risk (level 2 out of 5) of severe thunderstorms for areas south of a line from Mobile to Eufaula, and a marginal risk (level 1 of 5) as far north as Grove Hill, Prattville and Roanoke.

Strong winds are possible with the heavier thunderstorms across south Alabama Friday night, along with a few tornadoes. Severe storms are not expected over the northern half of the state.

MARCH SNOW: As cold air rushes in, rain will change to snow over north Alabama after midnight Friday night into early Saturday morning. Higher accumulation probabilities are along and north of U.S. 278 (Hamilton to Cullman to Gadsden), where some spots could see 1-2 inches on grassy areas (roads will be just wet). Snow flakes are likely down to Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Anniston, but odds of meaningful accumulation are low that far south. Accumulation potential will be limited by warm soil temperatures; we will be in the 70s Friday afternoon before the snow arrives.

As temperatures drop below freezing, a few slick spots are possible on bridges across the Tennessee Valley of north Alabama Saturday morning. For now, travel impact is not expected for places like Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Anniston.The sky will clear Saturday afternoon, but the day will be breezy and very cold, with temperatures holding in the 30s along and north of I-20. The wind chill index will hover around freezing all day.

With a clear sky and diminishing wind, we project lows between 18 and 24 degrees over the northern half of Alabama early Sunday morning, a very significant late-season freeze. Some north Alabama communities will be below freezing for 8-12 hours Saturday night and early Sunday. Freezing temperatures are likely all the way down to the Gulf Coast. With a sunny sky, temperatures warm into the 50s Sunday afternoon.NEXT WEEK: Monday will be dry and warmer, with a high in the 60s. Rain returns to the state Tuesday and possibly into part of the day Wednesday, and an upper trough passes through the region. Temperatures rise into the 70s Thursday and Friday; showers and storms are possible by Friday night, March 18.

ON THIS DATE IN 1986: Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes hit Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. A total of 19 tornadoes occurred; three in Indiana reached F3 intensity. A densely populated subdivision of southeast Lexington, Kentucky, was heavily damaged by a tornado. Twenty people were injured and 900 homes were destroyed or demolished. A very strong thunderstorm downburst hit the Cincinnati area. At the Greater Cincinnati Airport, windows were blown out of the control tower, injuring the six controllers on duty.

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