Birmingham Hospital Flooded, Water Sweeps Away Cars Downtown

Parts of Alabama are under flash flood warnings as people are being rescued from cars that are stuck in floodwaters, and one hospital in Birmingham has experienced flooding indoors, according to social media posts.

"Please avoid travel in downtown Birmingham!" the National Weather Service (NWS) Birmingham Twitter account stated. "Multiple water rescues, cars swept away in flood waters, roads impassable…flooding reports continue to rush in."

As of Wednesday afternoon, the NWS has the area around Birmingham under a flash flood warning or flood advisory, while much of the state is under a "hazardous weather outlook" for potentially severe storms through Wednesday evening.

Around 5:15 p.m., the NWS Birmingham account tweeted that most of the heaviest rain had moved past Birmingham and the areas under flood warnings but still urged caution for anyone who may be traveling in or around Birmingham as flooding could continue later into the day.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham also announced several road closures around its campus due to flooding, according to WVTM-TV, as Jefferson and Shelby counties are under flash flood warnings. Other social media posts showed flooding in the downtown area of Birmingham, including near the university, which also announced the closure of the UAB Urgent Care facility due to flooding.

One social media post also showed flooding inside a local restaurant as flood water flowed through the street outside.

"Important reminder: Not all rescues are 'swift' water rescues," NWS Birmingham tweeted. "Many flash flooding rescues occur in standing water. Please remember this when you're traveling & encounter flooding. NEVER drive into floodwaters...rushing OR standing! Don't put others' lives in danger!"

Another post, taken from a parking deck outside St. Vincent's Hospital, which has seen indoor flooding, shows a highway exit with several cars stopped along the ramp because of significant flooding.

Alabama meteorologist James Spann has retweeted dozens of photos and videos from around the city that show flooding at various locations. Birmingham Fire and Rescue responded to 20 water-related calls during the first hours of the flooding, with eight incidents that required people to be rescued from cars, according to Spann, with one 60-year-old man reportedly taken to a hospital in critical condition.

Experts including the American Safety Council advise against driving during flash floods if possible, but if one starts while you're in the car, it is best to avoid large puddles or areas where you can't see the ground beneath flood water.

Six inches is enough to stop most cars from being able to move and more than two feet of water in one place is enough to move the car itself entirely, the American Safety Council stated.

Further south, Disney's Orlando, Florida, theme park saw several inches of rain in one night earlier this month, and last week, a "bomb cyclone" and a significant drop in temperatures were forecast for Alabama and other places throughout the South.

In another recent extreme weather event, one person died and at least eight were injured when a tornado hit Alabama early last month.

Update 3/16/22, 6:00 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information.

Alabama Flooding Birmingham
Birmingham, Alabama, and the surrounding area experienced flash floods Wednesday afternoon. Above, a vehicle drives along a flooded street caused by the approaching Tropical Storm Gordon on Sept. 4, 2018, in Dauphin Island, Alabama. Getty Images/Joe Raedle
Birmingham Alabama Flooding
Flooding from St. Vincent Hospital's parking deck in Birmingham, Alabama, on Wednesday. Courtesy of Elizabeth Madison on Twitter. Elizabeth D. Madison/@edixon14/Twitter