Gulf Coast

With all of the wet weather along the Gulf Coast, The National Weather service is issuing a Flash Flood Watch in that area for the next few days. 

The flood watch is effect for some areas until Saturday morning.  It stretches along the Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

The NWS says periods of moderate to heavy rain are expected through Friday across portions of coastal southwest Alabama.

Workers in the Tuscaloosa area spent their holiday weekend dealing with a massive sewage spill that could pose a serious threat to area waterways.

Officials with the city of Northport say four pump stations were forced to close Saturday in order to perform emergency repairs on the main sewer pipeline. Those stations overflowed, leaking an unknown amount of raw sewage into three area creeks and the Black Warrior River.

The Alabama Supreme Court is voiding its earlier decision not to recognize a lesbian couple's adoption that was carried out in another state.

The opinion announced today falls into line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in March.  It says the Alabama court erred in declaring the adoption held in Georgia invalid.

The former state law enforcement chief who accused Governor Robert Bentley of having an affair with an adviser has been questioned by federal investigators about the governor's administration.

Kenny Mendelsohn, an attorney representing former state law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier, revealed yesterday that the questioning occurred. But he refused to elaborate on what questions investigators asked.

The Alabama Education Association is taking public school teachers’ insurance provider to court.

The group says the Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Plan, or PEEHIP, violated Alabama’s open meetings law. Late last month, the PEEHIP board approved massive premium and rate hikes which teachers say will wipe out their first pay increase in nine years. AEA says the rate hikes were decided during a secret board meeting, which violates state law.

Sheila Remington is the President of the AEA and the plaintiff in the lawsuit. She explains her position.

Crestmont kids animals
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Attorneys for death row inmate Vernon Madison will spend today looking for a last minute stay of execution. APR’s Pat Duggins reports the case also points out a part of Alabama’s legal system that remains controversial.

Vernon Madison is on Alabama’s death row after Mobile County Circuit Judge Ferrill McRae overrode the jury’s recommendation of life in prison. Alabama is the only state in the nation where a judge can do that.

Parts of the Gulf Coast are reeling after a bout of severe weather that caused Governor Robert Bentley to declare a preemptive state of emergency.

A storm reportedly knocked down trees and damaged property in Reform, Alabama, but no one was hurt. The National Weather Service tweeted that radar indicated a possible tornado in that area.

NWS radar also showed a tornado briefly touching down in Hackleburg, in northwest Alabama. Some roofs were damaged, but no injuries were reported.

Gov. Robert Bentley is placing the head of Alabama's state law enforcement agency on medical leave.

Bentley announced the decision today about Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier. The medical leave will last for as long as three months, allowing Collier time to recover from what the governor's office describes as an upcoming back surgery.

Bentley is appointing Stan Stabler as acting director during Collier's absence. Stabler is currently the chief of the dignitary protection unit at ALEA.

A state Senate committee has approved a bill to take Alabama probate judges out of the wedding license business.

APR’s Stan Ingold reports, this comes after many judges refused to follow the U.S Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage.

The Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee approved the bill to do away with state-issued marriage licenses. Instead, spouses would file a signed marriage contract at probate offices.

Several Alabama probate judges have shut down marriage license operations rather than give licenses to same-sex couples.

Lawmakers are back in Montgomery this week to try and find a solution for a 200 million dollar shortfall in the state’s General Fund budget.

But one group of state lawmakers wants to pull half a billion dollars out of the General Fund.

A collection of Gulf Coast legislators want to take half of the billion dollar BP oil spill settlement and keep it local, putting it toward road and infrastructure projects and coastal insurance reform.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley put the Yellowhammer State in the national spotlight today. The Governor ordered the removal of the four confederate flags from the Capitol Grounds.

Bentley knows the Confederate flag is a part of the state’s history. But, he says it is offensive to people in Alabama and the symbol is often associated with hate…

Alabama is delaying its planned severe weather preparedness day because of the very real severe weather much of the state is experiencing.

Tomorrow was supposed to be "Ready Alabama Preparedness Day." Events would have included thousands of schoolchildren gathering in downtown Birmingham for weather education sessions. But the state says it's delaying the event out of caution and concern for the safety of both students and the first responders who would be teaching the sessions.


The city of Orange Beach has dropped its shark warning and is letting people back in the water.

The fire department says the latest aerial observations show only a few sharks in the water near Perdido Pass.

That's normal for this time of year, and authorities say visitors can now get back in the Gulf.

Double red flags had been flying since Sunday because dozens of sharks were cruising the water just off the beach.

Officials say the number of sharks in the area has decreased significantly.

National Weather Service

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has declared a state of emergency across the state as Tropical Storm Karen approaches the coast.

In a statement Friday afternoon, the governor said the emergency was being declared in anticipation of heavy rains and high winds from the storm. Bentley added that tornadoes will also be possible.

Alabama's coast faces a possible 5-foot storm surge, high winds and dangerous rip currents as Tropical Storm Karen is expected to arrive over the weekend.

The beach season didn't end too soon for public safety officials who say they saw an increase in the number of tourist deaths along Alabama's coast this year.

The Baldwin County coroner's office says five people drowned on the beaches this summer, and three more died in falls off condominium towers.

Millions of people visited the state's primary beaches this year from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The number who died is small in comparison, but large and unusual enough to get authorities' attention. / Alabama Tourism Department

More than 100 nonprofit groups and government entities have been picked to get shares of $43.7 million in BP funds to promote the Gulf Coast's tourism and seafood industries following the company's 2010 oil spill.

The first round of grants announced Wednesday by court-supervised claims administrator Patrick Juneau is part of a proposed settlement between BP and a team of private plaintiffs' attorneys.

The deal calls for BP to fund a total of $57 million in tourism and seafood promotion grants.

Ben Raines/Press-Register / The Press-Register

Scientific testing has confirmed a link between oil from the massive BP spill and tar found on Alabama beaches after Hurricane Isaac. Auburn University researcher Joel Hayworth said Tuesday a chemical analysis showed that tar balls collected after Isaac were associated with the type of oil spilled after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010. Auburn researchers collected about 15 pounds of tar balls after the storm, and officials from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach picked up still more.

Alabama Seafood Industry Survives Isaac

Aug 30, 2012
toadbarracuda / Flickr

Alabama's seafood industry survived Hurricane Issac with barely a scratch compared to Katrina seven years ago, but the storm could still cost millions in lost work. Dozens of shrimp boats remain tied up at docks in Bayou La Batre, and processing plants are closed. But the storm caused virtually no damage to buildings or vessels. The president of the Organized Seafood Association of Alabama, Ernie Anderson, says the storm could cost the industry as much as $3 million in lost sales. / National Hurricane Center

Southeast Alabama is slowly beginning to dry out after Isaac. Shops and stores along the Alabama gulf coast are re-opening for business. Alabama Power reported restoring power to most of Dauphin Island shortly before 5PM Wednesday. Isaac has been downgraded to a Tropical Storm, but has stalled over southeastern Louisiana dumping many inches of rain on the Gulf Coast.That means Alabama's Gulf Coast isn't quite out of the woods yet. The forecast calls for more rain in the Mobile area between now and Friday, and a bit drier over the weekend.

Gulf Coast Residents Seek Safety In Ala. Shelters

Aug 28, 2012 / National Hurricane Center

Several hundred people are staying in shelters in Mobile and Baldwin counties during Hurricane Isaac. Juana Castillo said she drove with her mother, stepdad and brother from Metairie, La., to a shelter in Theodore. She said her dad lived through Katrina and he urged the family to leave Louisiana. A 75-year-old Mobile man, Tom Rowan, said he had the boat he calls home pulled out of the water and then went to a shelter. He said the water at Turner Marina where he docks his boat is up about a foot, but Isaac has been unimpressive so far.

Ala. Readying For Strike From Isaac Next Week

Aug 24, 2012 / National Hurricane Center

The weather along Alabama's coast should be sunny for one of the season's last big tourist weekends, but officials are urging residents to get ready for the approach of Isaac next week.

With weather service maps showing the storm could hit the Alabama coast as a hurricane on Wednesday, choppy surf and higher-than-normal tides may reach the coast Saturday or Sunday.

Flooding could be worse than usual because of heavy rains along the coast this summer, but officials say even that's hard to predict because of the uncertainty of the storm's track.

Alabama's beach communities are getting ready for the upcoming July 4 holiday now that Tropical Storm Debby is bearing down on Florida.

Surf conditions already have improved enough for the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to reopen coastal waters to tourists.

Forecasters say waves should become calmer as the storm moves slowly along a line that the National Hurricane Center says will take Debby into the Florida peninsula.

It has been four years since the largest terrorist attack on US soil. Now the Gulf Coast has experienced possibly the worst natural disaster in US history. Lawmakers wonder why 9-11 didn't better prepare emergency management for dealing with Hurricane Katrina. People in downtown Tuscaloosa talk about the recovery New York made and ways the Gulf Coast might do the same. Plus, we have a story about the Navy's Blue Angels and the service men and women on the ground who help keep pilots in the air.