Rescuers pull residents from floodwaters after torrential rains deluge Alabama

·3 min read

Severe weather often grounds planes and shuts down airport operations. However, this week's stormy conditions not only left planes in a Shelby County, Alabama, hangar grounded, but flooded as well.

In Shelby County, Alabama's most populous city, Birmingham, was deluged with 3.46 inches of rain in the span of just a couple of hours, the local National Weather Service (NWS) office said in a tweet. Birmingham receives an average of just about 5 inches of rain for the entire month of May.

"Folks, the heavy rain/flash flooding threat is NO joke," the Tuesday night tweet read. "PLEASE stay off the roads if in Jefferson/Shelby Counties."

The NWS announced a flash flood emergency for the Birmingham, Alabama, metro area late Tuesday afternoon, calling it a "particularly dangerous situation." The warning encompassed southeastern Jefferson County and northwestern Shelby County in central Alabama.

Flash flood emergencies are issued by the NWS in "exceedingly rare situations when extremely heavy rain is leading to a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is happening or will happen soon." This level of threat is reserved for when emergency officials report rapidly rising water resulting in rescues, evacuations and life-threatening situations.

But some either didn't receive the alerts or didn't heed them. The torrential flooding left a trail of soaked damage, with many vehicles destroyed and dozens of residents requiring rescue in the historic city.

Footage from around Shelby County showed cars stuck in the middle of flooded roadways, residents wading through the waist-deep waters and the aforementioned planes sitting in the flooded hangars at Shelby County Airport.

The runways of Shelby County Airport were also completely covered in water. On top of that, the area surrounding the airfield was under a tornado watch until 6:15 p.m. local time Tuesday.

In the nearby town of Homewood, multiple water rescues were needed to save trapped drivers. Outside an apartment complex, rescue teams from the local fire department used inflatable paddle boats to extract more than a dozen residents from the waters.

On the other side of Birmingham, the town of Alabaster saw the highest rain total, reaching the 7-inch mark. This is more rain than some Californian cities have measured over the past year, such as downtown Los Angeles, which has received 5.94 inches of rain since the start of last May.

In Vestavia, the heavy rainfall triggered a landslide along the right-hand side of Highway 31, washing away parts of a nearby property and sending floodwaters spilling onto the roadway. In Hoover, the Patton Creek burst its banks due to those floodwaters, further complicating the mess left in surrounding areas.

The dire situation in Alabama comes on the heels of another week of severe weather that has bombarded the South. After heavy hail, intense thunderstorms and scattered tornadoes dotted the region from Texas to the Carolinas, more than 100,000 customers were still without power through Wednesday morning.

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