It is Thursday December 21, 2023. Winter officially begins tonight at 9:27pm Tuscaloosa time. Technically it is known as the Winter Solstice and that makes today the shortest day of the year in terms of how much daylight we receive. Sunset will be at 4:46pm. However, after today the days will incrementally begin to get longer again.

Oddly enough, winter will begin as a warming trend moves into West Alabama. The warmer temperatures into the 60s will also bring chances of rain from Christmas Eve through Tuesday night. Total rainfall amounts across West Alabama will range from a quarter inch to an inch.

Any rain will actually be a Christmas present. While the latest Drought Monitor issued just a short time ago continues to show improved soil conditions, there is still drought covering 90% of the state. All of West Alabama continues to be shown as still in Severe Drought.

We continue to see only a few wildfires across Alabama despite the continued drought. This morning there are five fires burning, two in West Alabama. That near 40-acre fire near Corona in Walker County and a three-acre blaze just off Greene County 20 near Thornhill Plantation are both listed by the Alabama Forestry Commission as contained.

The Forecast:

Today: Partly sunny, with a high near 57. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph.

Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 39. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph.

Friday: Partly sunny, with a high near 61. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph.

Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 41. Southeast wind around 5 mph.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 67. Southeast wind around 5 mph.

Saturday: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 49.

Christmas Eve Day: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 67.

Christmas Eve: A chance of showers, then showers and possibly a thunderstorm after midnight. Low around 56. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Christmas Day: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. High near 65. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Christmas Day Night: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm before midnight, then a chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 51. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Tuesday: A 30 percent chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 63.

Tuesday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 43.


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Topping the News:

The shooting death of a reportedly armed black male by a TPD officer yesterday is being investigated by the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit. TPD says the deceased had a gun and when told to drop it he pointed it and the officer fired. He had been ordered out of a car near Bower's Park during a traffic stop due to outstanding warrants.

The identity of the deceased nor the officer have been released. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.


42-year-old Juan Tierney Hall, an off-duty detention officer for the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office was killed in an overnight shooting at a south Jefferson County apartment complex.

When officers arrived at The Lory of Hoover Apartments, they found Hall and another man wounded. The police report says Hall opened fire on the other man when he opened his apartment door to a knock.

No motive has been established for the 10:00pm incident last night.


Kentuck has made it official. The 2024 Festival of the Arts will be in Tuscaloosa instead of Northport, its home for 52 years.

The move from Northport follows disagreements and various allegations between Northport and Kentuck officials about extension of the nationally known festival’s contract. The way was cleared for the move when the Tuscaloosa City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding Tuesday night.


TPD has arrested an Alabama Football Player. Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Elijah Pritchett was charged with knowingly passing on a sexually transmitted disease. He was released from Tuscaloosa County Jail on a $500 bond on the misdemeanor offense. A report was filed against the 19-year-old last week.


7.3 million travelers are expected to fly this weekend, but Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International’s Kim Hunt tells news partner ABC3340 the Christmas Holidays is not as compact a travel season as Thanksgiving so the airport should not be as crowded.  Hunt says BSI has seen a significant increase in air travel all year.


ALEA’s “12 Days of Safety” begins today and ends Jan. 1, 2024. During this time, the agency will share tips and information to shed light on various risky driving behaviors and their potential consequences, with a focus on drunk and impaired driving.

According to data compiled by the Center for Advanced Public Safety, 5,005 crashes occurred in 2022 because of impaired driving, and resulting in 260 lives lost in the state of Alabama. So far in 2023, impaired driving has been a contributing factor in 4,398 traffic crashes, resulting in 154 lives lost.

The potential for a tragic holiday is emphasized by last month’s Thanksgiving travel period according to ALEA Trooper Cpl. Reginal King. “Tragically, there were 15 lives lost during the recent extended Thanksgiving travel period. If you are stopped by an ALEA Trooper this holiday season, please understand they are attempting to save lives by enforcing the state’s laws. Those laws are set in place to protect each motorist.”

The official holiday travel period will once again span nine days beginning at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 24, and ending at midnight Jan. 1. During this time, ALEA’s Troopers assigned to the Highway Patrol and Marine Patrol Divisions will conduct a variety of enforcement activities, including driver license and equipment checkpoints, to curb dangerous driving behaviors such as driving under the influence, driving while distracted, not buckling up, speeding and following too closely.


46-year-old Tarnisha Doss Harrell has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Harrell is accused of applying for and receiving more than $600 thousand in fraudulent SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans and with conspiring with four other Tuscaloosa residents to apply for an additional fake loan.


TPD has arrested an Alabama Football Player. Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Elijah Pritchett was charged with knowingly passing on a sexually transmitted disease. He was released from Tuscaloosa County Jail on a $500 bond on the misdemeanor offense. A report was filed against the 19-year-old last week.


38-year-old Yonis Tomas Morales has been charged with first-degree sexual abuse, but police also discovered this is reportedly not the first time this has happened. The Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit has accused the Cottondale man of sexually abusing a woman in the bathroom of the city's Target supermarket last week.

Investigators were able to establish a, ".... pattern of Yonis going into the girl's bathroom at Target for sexual gratification including a similar incident a month prior," police said in charging documents.



In Sports:

From UA Athletics: The Alabama men's basketball team fell to No. 4/4 Arizona, 87-74, Wednesday night in the Hall of Fame Series contest which was played at the Footprint Center in Phoenix.

Grant Nelson paced the Crimson Tide (6-5) with 17 points while Sam Walters added 15 off the bench. Mark Sears collected 12 points, six steals and six rebounds while Aaron Estrada had 11 points and a team-leading six assists in the loss.

Wednesday night's contest marked the Tide's third consecutive game against an AP top-10 opponent. Alabama began the stretch by playing then-No. 2 Purdue (lost 92-86) on Dec. 9 followed by taking on then-No. 8 Creighton (lost 85-82) last Saturday.


 

Alabama Football finished 2nd in the nation and the SEC (behind UGA) in yesterday’s high school signings. Coach Nick Saban told reporters signing day comes at a busy time as the Tide prepares for the Rose Bowl.

It wasn't just UA and UGA that had a stellar day. The SEC had the #1 conference recruiting day.


From UA Athletics: Alabama soccer's Gessica Skorka earned College Sports Communicators Academic All-America Third Team honors; the organization announced Wednesday.

Skorka was named an Academic All-American for the second time in her career, making back-to-back appearances on the list. She is just the third player in program history to earn the honor on more than one occasion and first to do so since Emma Welch was selected in 2017 and 2018.


Have a terrific Thursday as we continue the countdown to Christmas.

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