BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — As much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain fell in Alabama in about a day, unleashing flash floods that required some people to be rescued. Additional storms Wednesday brought the threat of twisters to the Southeast.
Heavy rains after nightfall Wednesday also caused flooding across north Alabama, with cars submerged on roads in metro Birmingham and parts of the Tennessee Valley. Rescue crews helped motorists escape vehicles, and emergency managers said the combination of low visibility and standing water made travel life-threatening in some areas.
In south Alabama near the Florida line, water covered streets in the flood-prone Escambia County towns of Brewton and East Brewton, inundating businesses in a shopping center with several feet of water.
As much as 3 feet (1 meter) of water was inside the community’s main grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, and two schools had to cancel classes, said Escambia Sheriff Heath Jackson.
“We’re hoping that the rain is going to stop so we can get some of this water … out of here and we can start getting into these businesses that have taken on water to see what we can do to help them,” Jackson told WKRG-TV.
To the south, in Baldwin County, as much as 250,000 gallons (946,353 liters) of waste water overflowed from sewage systems along Mobile Bay, officials said.
With rainfall totals already ranging from 2 inches (5 centimeters) to as much 6 inches across the state this week, forecasters said another 3 inches (8 centimeters) of rain was possible, with the heaviest rains to the north.
Severe storms and a few isolated tornadoes from a slow-moving low pressure system were a threat, mainly in the afternoon, forecasters said. The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for northeastern Alabama, northwestern Georgia and southern Tennessee.
A flash flood watch covered most of Alabama and north Georgia, and forecasters issued flood warnings near a few rising creeks and rivers.
Rains should end by late Thursday as storms move eastward, forecasters said.