Wednesday has been warm and windy across the Tennessee Valley as winds have swung around to a southerly direction in response to the developing storm system off to our west. Clouds have begun to thicken today, but we have still had sun breaks, and temperatures have been well up into the 60s. Many north Alabama communities this afternoon are getting near 70 degrees as early as the 1:00pm hour, and may slide up into the lower 70s for afternoon highs. Southern Tennessee is mild itself, with many communities in the mid 60s this afternoon. Southerly winds are gusting between 15 and as high as 30 to 35 mph, making for a day that feels a lot more like March than the end of December.
Rain isn't too far off from the area, with a stalled frontal boundary just to our northwest and showers becoming more widespread from northwest Tennessee and west/middle Kentucky, down through west Mississippi and much of Arkansas. These showers will ride northeastward near the area this afternoon and evening, and more scattered showers may develop east of there into parts of our area by late in the day or the evening. The more widespread and steady rainfall sets up over our northwestern coverage counties during the overnight, stretching from McNairy and Hardin Counties, up through Wayne and Lewis Counties into the U.S. Highway 412 corridor west of Columbia. Additional scattered showers are possible areawide, but this corridor in our northwestern viewing counties will be where the more steady rain is overnight. There may even be a rumble or two of thunder involved, but severe weather is not expected tonight. Because of the added clouds, moisture, and southerly winds, temperatures will stay mild... generally between 45 and 52 degrees for overnight lows.
As we head into Thursday, New Year's Eve, that's when the main storm system ejects toward the area and really begins to affect our weather. The latest update from the Storm Prediction Center has inched the Level 1 risk of severe weather northward into our far southern viewing counties. However, everything we see in the data still suggests that the risk of severe weather will stay off to our south. Having said that, even outside of storms, winds may gust over 30 to as high as 40 mph Thursday night into Friday morning as the low pressure passes by and the pressure gradient tightens. There will also be the potential for heavy rain, with most of the area expecting 1 to 2 inches of rain with isolated higher amounts possible.
After morning rain lifts north of the area, we expect waves of showers off and on through the day Thursday before more widespread and steady rain moves back in Thursday night. Thunderstorms may begin to get involved after 10pm on Thursday as the warm front lifts north across the area. Stronger storms look like they will hold off until after midnight, with a band of stronger storms possible in the area in the general 2:00am to 9:00am timeframe. IF we are going to see a stray severe storm, it is this time period we will have to watch. However, the ingredients for severe weather still just look to stay off to our south. We will be watching for changes. Those storms shift out during the mid to late morning, and we get sun by midday and afternoon before the cold front moves in. That may allow us to hit the lower 70s for highs on Friday before the cold front moves in and drops our temperatures again.
After Friday, we look to be relatively close to seasonal norms for the weekend into early next week, with highs back in the upper 40s to lower 50s and overnight lows dropping back toward freezing by the weekend. Another weather system zips through the area Saturday afternoon into early Sunday with a slight chance of showers, and maybe even an isolated flurry overnight Saturday night into early Sunday morning as temperatures flirt with the lower 30s. No accumulations or impacts are expected. It will also be a low probability / light precipitation type potential.