Widespread rains fell Friday generally south of I-20 as a low pressure system spun up in the Gulf of Mexico coast south of New Orleans Thursday night. The low moved eastward through the morning hours, spreading moisture northward. Rainfall amounts in the I-20 corridor were just under to a little over one quarter inch, or pretty light. Just to the north of that, amounts were much lighter. Decatur only picked up 0.01”, while Huntsville got none. Throw in a brisk easterly wind compliments of the dreaded wedge and temperatures that couldn’t get out of the 50s, and it was a not so nice Good Friday.
HEAVY RAINS TO THE SOUTH: While rainfall amounts over North Central Alabama were light, it was a different story to the south, as moisture from the Gulf rode up an over a dome of high pressure extending down from New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Montgomery got over an inch, but nearer the coast, amounts were dramatically higher. Pensacola picked up a record 3.07 inches of rain and Destin over four inches. Florala, on the Alabama/Florida border picked up over five inches! Flooding was reported in numerous spots across Walton County, Florida, just over the border between Florala and DeFuniak Springs. All in all, it was not a good day to be driving to Destin on US-331.
BEACHBOUND: While yesterday might have been a washout, I do have good news for beachgoers in the week ahead. Starting today, skies will be clearing pretty quickly from the west. This morning, Gulf Shores will be mostly sunny, with partly cloudy conditions around Pensacola and partly sunny skies to the east. Skies should continue to clear throughout the day. Warm and dry conditions will prevail through much of the week ahead, although there could be a shower or storm Tuesday afternoon or night as a weak frontal system approaches. File that away for later for Central Alabama as well. Highs today and Sunday will be in the middle 70s, with upper 80s early in the new work week and 80s by Wednesday. Lows will be in the 50s through the weekend, with 60s common in the week ahead. Water temperatures are slowly warming through the 60s.
BACK TO THE HERE AND NOW: What do you always hear us say? Upper level low, weatherman’s woe? Well, we watched the upper trough over the Lower Mississippi Valley kink up into a closed low overnight. More rain developed overnight to the north of the upper low’s track as it pushed across South Alabama, but it diminished during the pre-dawn hours. There could be light showers through the early morning over eastern Alabama, and more mainly light showers could develop this afternoon in areas south of I-59 and east of I-65. Clouds are still thick this morning in areas east of a line from Anniston to Montgomery, with broken partly sunny skies back to I-59 and I-65. Those clouds will work back to about I-65 during the day though. West of there, lots of sunshine will prevail all day. It may be late tonight before most of the cloudiness is gone across the state. Temperatures are starting off near 50F in most locations this morning and will rise into the 70s in areas that get more sunshine today, like Demopolis, Hamilton, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. 60s to near 70F will be common to the east, where clouds will be thicker.
BUSY SATURDAY: Lots going on during this Holiday Weekend in Central Alabama. We’ve got a Gymnastisics NCAA Championship at the BJCC, I liked Ryan’s A-Day forecast format so much I think I will just steal them (and tweak them if need be). Here goes:
OFFICIAL A-DAY FORECASTS: Both the Tide and Tigers are having their spring games tomorrow and it looks as though one school will fair better than the other.
TUSCALOOSA: Gates open at 10 AM at Bryant-Denny Stadium under mostly cloudy conditions. Kick off is at 1 PM, and we should continue to see the clouds gradually clear through the day. Temps will climb from the 50s during the morning, to about 70 during the game. Any rain would be very early in the day and the majority of the rain will stay over eastern potions of the state. There will be a brisk north wind of 10-15 mph.
AUBURN: It looks to be a wet start to the day down on the Plains. Rain and clouds are more likely over the eastern half of the state tomorrow. Gates at Jordan-Hare open at noon and the skies are expected to be overcast, with perhaps a few peeks of sunshine. The clouds should hang around through the afternoon and temps will stay the lower 60s. Winds will be a bit more brisk on the Plains as the low pressure will be closer, expect winds to average 10-20 mph out of the north. There will be chance of rain so I would suggest taking the ponchos and rain gear if you are heading down that way.
EASTER FORECAST: Sunshine should return in full force. Just a few clouds will b e hanging around no the backside of that upper low. Sunrise services will be customarily coolish but not chilly, around 50F. But it will be calm and dry with just a little patchy fog. And the warm spring sun should allow temperatures to warm into the middle 70s area wide tomorrow. That is right on average for Central Alabama for mid-April and just about perfect weather.
NEW WORK WEEK: Monday looks even nicer, with partly cloudy skies and highs in the upper 70s. By Tuesday, a weak frontal system will approach the state, and this means that we will have to carry chances of showers and storms. The best chances will come during the afternoon for areas along and south of I-59 it appears. The chances for any severe weather look small at this point. Butremember what we say in the weather office: when it comes to thunderstorms in Alabama, expect the unexpected.
HARD TO BEAT BACK WINTER: Temperatures on Tuesday afternoon will be limited to the lower 70s, which isn’t bad. But by Wednesday morning, lows will be back in the 40s and we might even see a few upper 30s in the climate report by Thursday morning. We aren’t expecting any frost or a freeze, but just a reminder that winter is not going without a fight. Highs will be back in the upper 70s and we might even post a few 80s on Thursday.
WEEKEND OUTLOOK: We should get through Friday warm and dry, but an approaching cold front will bring a chance of showers and storms on Saturday. It looks like another slow mover, with showers beginning Saturday morning and the best chances for rain and storms coming Saturday afternoon. But that is based on current runs of the GFS, and is subject to change. The European is faster and bring the rain and storms in Friday night.
VOODOO COUNTRY: The last few days of April and the first few days of May look really nice in Alabama with warm and dry conditions prevailing. That’s good to hear.
DANCING WITH THE STATS: The 0.73 inches of rain at Seattle Thursday was a record for the date.
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ON THIS DATE IN 2009: National Weather Service survey teams from Huntsville and Birmingham were able to identify 16 tornado tracks across the northern two-thirds of the state from a Sunday severe weather event. Within the Birmingham NWS county warning area; the most significant tornadoes were found atop Straight Mountain in Blount County, and on the Alabama/Georgia border in the Phenix City/Columbus area. Both of those tornadoes were rated EF-2 on the enhanced Fujita scale. There were two tornado fatalities in Alabama; one in Priceville, in Morgan County, and the other in the community of Asbury in the far eastern part of Marshall County. Seven chicken houses were destroyed in the Highland Lakes Tornado in Blount County. A total of 95,000 chickens were killed. Follow my weather history tweets on Twitter. I am @wxhistorian at Twitter.com.