From scorchers to flash floods—what in the world is going on with our weather?

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rain Birmingham weather
Your umbrella is July’s hottest accessory. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

The past few weeks have been a grueling combination of sweltering heat, major rainfall and even some destructive flooding. What’s going on with Birmingham weather? We caught up with the National Weather Service to get the scoop.

Birmingham weather—when it rains, it pours:

The Birmingham area has been slammed with heavy rainfall, storms and flooding lately, so what gives? Daily rainstorms aren’t uncommon in our climate during the Summer, but this seems like overkill. Well, according to Daniel Martin, meteorologist at the National Weather Service, it’s a combination of a few things.

Two major factors are our air’s moisture content being higher than usual and hot air rising in the heat of the day. These conditions can cause those (occasionally severe) “pop up thunderstorms” we’ve seen nearly every afternoon for the past few weeks. And, the high moisture content in the air allows these storms to have much more coverage than the average storm.

Flooding in Birmingham:

We’ve also seen some flash flood warnings and damage throughout Birmingham, especially in the Vestavia Hills area. Martin says this is largely due to the high frequency of rain we’ve had over the past few weeks.

Because the ground is already so saturated, it doesn’t take much. A fast-moving storm could lead to serious flooding, even if it only produces half an inch of rain or less, simply due to the speed and current conditions.

If you’re caught in a flash flood:

If a Flash Flood Warning is issued, Martin urges everyone to stay put as the conditions typically subside within a few hours. Should you have to drive through flood conditions, remember the cardinal rule: never, under any circumstances, drive through a flooded roadway.

Waters can be deceivingly deep, so take an alternate route.

Birmingham weather: heat is here to stay

Birmingham weather heat index
It’s getting hot in here. Photo via National Weather Service

It sure feels extra warm out there, but according to Martin, we’ve actually been within our seasonal averages with highs in the mid to low 90s. Two things are making us feel the heat. First, there’s the fact that June and parts of July were unseasonably cool, with some days staying in the 80s. Another culprit is the large amount of moisture in the air, causing suffocating humidity.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the heat is here to stay. In fact, heat index values (how hot it really feels outside) may hit 105F in some parts of the state later this week.

4 Birmingham weather tips to stay safe in the heat

  1. Plan any yard work, outdoor exercise or activities for earlier in the day before the severe heat kicks in.
  2. Stay hydrated, especially if working outside for long periods of time during the heat of the day.
  3. Take breaks in cool, shaded areas.
  4. Review our tips for keeping your children safe in hot cars.

Stay safe out there, Birmingham! Show us how you’re staying cool @BhamNow.

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Madison Croxson
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