Year in review: Top 2018 weather stories in Birmingham and North-Central Alabama

Jacksonville
Jacksonville
Jacksonville State University tornado damage. Photo by Pete Conroy

Birmingham and North-Central Alabama weather in 2018 had a little bit of everything… hail, tornadoes, a heat wave and year-ending flash floods.

It was also the year Birmingham residents supported our neighbors suffering from devastating natural disasters in Jacksonville, Alabama (tornado) and hurricanes in the Gulf Coast Panhandle of Florida and South Alabama and Coastal North Carolina.

Here is a recap of the top 2018 weather stories that appeared in Bham Now.

Jacksonville Tornado

Photo from Jacksonville State University

It is hard to believe that it has only been a little over 9 months since an EF-3 (150 mph) tornado, 2000 feet wide, traveling 34 miles, struck at the heart of Jacksonville State University and the city of Jacksonville . The March 19, 2018 tornado damaged nearly every building on campus causing approximately $42 million in  damage.

The miracle?  The tornado hit on the first day of Spring Break.  There were no fatalities and only four people were injured.

Along with the tornado that evening, North-Central Alabama experienced a prolific hail storm.  The National Weather Service reported 3 inch in diameter hail in some places.

Here is the link to Bham Now stories about the tornado and Birmingham’s response.

Jacksonville State University and communities throughout Alabama need our help
United Way of Central Alabama has launched a donation site to help tornado victims in five counties

September Heat Wave

Birmingham Alabama
Oak Mountain State Parks newly re-furbished beach area – photo by Oak Mountain State Park

The Birmingham area experienced an unusual heat wave in September, According to AccuWeather, temps  topped 90 degrees in Birmingham for 28 out of 30 days between August 26 to September 26. In fact, on the weekends of September 15 and 22 temperature reached 95 degrees and above.

Fortunately, for all of us the heat wave snapped on September 26 making way for normal seasonable 80 degree temperatures.

Birmingham has experienced 12 straight days of 90 plus temperatures. We ask WIAT CBS 42’s Ashley Gann about the present heat wave.

Hurricanes Florence and  Michael

Birmingham, Hurricane Michael, Florida
Hurricane Michael hits the Florida Panhandle. Photo via NOAA

Even though they did not come near Birmingham and North-Central Alabama, the Southeast experienced two major hurricanes this fall.

Hurricane Florence, which hit coastal North Carolina and South Carolina caused major throughout the region.

Hurricane Michael , struck closer to home, hitting the Florida’s Panhandle like a bowling ball, and causing significant damage inland in South Alabama.

Like the active hurricane season of 2017 which impacted Houston, Florida and the Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands – our community in 2018 once again stepped forward to help our neighbors.
United Way and Community Foundation offer ways to support Hurricane Florence relief
Birmingham companies help those affected by Hurricane Michael, including Bresco and Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc. Plus, find out where you can donate.

Record rainfall/Year-ending flooding

From the National Weather Service- Birmingham Office

Depending where your rain gauge was located, 2018 in some cities in North-Central Alabama experienced some of the wettest accumulated rainfalls in their history.  For example, with still 13 days left in the year, Tuscaloosa was 11 inches over their average rain totals.  The town of Calera in Shelby County likely broke records too. The latest NWS Birmingham graphic does not include the prolific Christmas rainfall totals that occurred last week. With a rainy December 31 in the forecast, perhaps more records will fall.

Alabama State Parks
DeSoto State Park

Checkout videos of waterfalls overflowing from heavy rains across Alabama

 

Will 2019 be gentler and milder? Let’s hope so.

 

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.