James Spann: Another hard freeze for Alabama tonight

James Spann: Another hard freeze for Alabama tonight

By James Spann, Alabama News Center

COLD JANUARY DAY: Clouds are lingering over far north Alabama this afternoon, where temperatures remain below freezing. At 2 p.m., Decatur reported 26 degrees, a north wind at 12 mph and a wind chill index of 16. Even where the sun is shining, temperatures haven’t responded much. Birmingham was at 35 degrees at 2; the average high for Birmingham on Jan. 20 is 54.

Tonight will be very cold, with most places seeing a low in the 18- to 24-degree range; freezing temperatures are likely all the way down to the Gulf Coast. A disturbance aloft could squeeze out a few snow flurries after midnight tonight into early Tuesday morning, but there will be no impact. Tuesday will be mostly sunny with highs between 40 and 45 degrees over the northern half of the state.

Wednesday morning will be another cold one, with lows well down in the 20s; upper teens are possible again for colder pockets. Then, we rise into the low 50s by afternoon as a slow warming trend begins. The air will be dry and Wednesday will be mostly sunny.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: Clouds return to the state Thursday, and we will forecast a good chance of rain late Thursday afternoon, Thursday night and into the day Friday. The new model data suggests the main window for rain will come from 4 p.m. Thursday through 4 p.m. Friday. Rain amounts should be in the one-half-inch to 1-inch range. There is no risk of severe storms and probably no thunder with a stable air mass in place. The highs will be close to 50 degrees Thursday, followed by mid 50s Friday.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: For now the weekend looks dry with seasonal temperatures for late January. Look for a partly sunny sky Saturday and Sunday with afternoon highs in the low 50s. A light freeze is likely early Sunday morning.

NEXT WEEK: The weather will be dry during the first half of the week, but rain should return in the Thursday-Friday time frame (Jan. 30-31).

EAST TENNESSEE SHAKER: A magnitude 3.6 quake was centered north of Knoxville at 2:12 p.m. Eastern Time this afternoon; it was felt across much of east Tennessee and parts of far north Georgia. No damage was reported.

ON THIS DATE IN 1940: Alabama was in the midst of the state’s most severe, long-lasting cold wave. The two weeks beginning with the Arctic invasion that arrived on the night of Jan. 18, 1940, still rate as the coldest 14-day period in Magic City history, with an average temperature of 22.5 degrees. When it comes to prolonged cold waves, whether you look at 10-, 14-, 21- or 30-day periods, you won’t find a colder time in Birmingham than January-February 1940.

ON THIS DATE IN 1985: The low at Birmingham was 4 degrees below zero, the third-coldest temperature on record for the Magic City. The coldest on record is 10 degrees below zero on Feb. 13, 1899.

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