a graphic showing the most common severe weather dangers in Alabama: flash flooding, lighting, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes

The Most Common Types of Severe Weather in Alabama

Severe weather can happen at any time in Alabama. To help you prepare, The University of Alabama is offering information on severe weather and safety tips during Severe Weather Awareness Week, Feb. 21-25.

Alabama experiences the most active severe weather usually in the spring months of March, April and May. Here is a look at the four most common types of severe weather that could affect our area.

Flash Floods

Flash flooding can occur suddenly and usually within hours of excessive heavy rain.

If you live in a flood-prone area, remain alert and be prepared to move to higher ground if a flash flood warning is issued. Never drive or walk down flooded streets. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult, and just 12 inches can carry away a car. Remember, turn around, don’t drown. Read more about staying safe during a flooding event.


Lightning occurs in all thunderstorms, and it can be deadly. In fact, 20 or more people die from lightning in the U.S. each year.

If you can hear thunder, then you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Remember, when thunder roars, go indoors. Stay away from electrical appliances and plumbing during a thunderstorm. Learn more about lightning safety.

Severe Thunderstorms

About 2,000 thunderstorms are happening around the world at any given moment. However, most of these are not severe. To be classified as a severe thunderstorm, the storm must produce hail that is 1 inch or larger and/or wind gusts of 58 mph or higher.

When a severe thunderstorm watch is issued, you should be alert. Watch for changing weather conditions and be prepared to move indoors if a thunderstorm is near you.

If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, you should take immediate action. Get inside a sturdy, substantial building to be protected from lightning, hail, wind and heavy rain. Stay away from windows and avoid electrical equipment and plumbing during a severe thunderstorm.

Thunderstorms do not last long and will usually pass by in less than an hour. Read more about severe thunderstorms.


A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with the ground. Tornadoes usually form from thunderstorms and have wind speeds ranging from 65 to more than 300 mph.

A tornado watch means you need to be prepared to act because a tornado could form.

A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted or has been indicated on weather radar, and you should seek shelter immediately.

Learn more about tornado watches and warnings.

You can always receive severe weather information for Tuscaloosa County through the UA Safety app, which can be downloaded for iOS and Android devices.

Watch the video below to learn more about severe thunderstorms and tornado watches and warnings.