National Weather Service

hubbard trial
Brynn Anderson / AP

A jury has been chosen, and Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics trial will begin next week.

Hubbard is facing nearly two dozen felony ethics charges accusing him of using his position as Speaker and past position as chairman of Alabama’s Republican Party for personal gain for himself and his businesses. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Hubbard has pleaded not guilty and maintains he didn’t do anything illegal.

SWIRLL
Alex AuBuchon / APR

All week long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking back at the tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011. The storms impacted homeowners and businesses, and you’ve heard from many of them during our coverage.

Now we’ll look ahead. For the past two months, dozens of scientists have been conducting groundbreaking research on tornadoes and severe weather right here in Alabama.

APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more on the impact that research could have on meteorologists' understanding of severe weather and forecasters’ ability to predict it.

Alabama senators have approved establishing an innocence commission to review some of the state’s capital convictions.

Senators voted 20-6 in favor of the bill yesterday, sending it to the House of Representatives. The proposed legislation would create a panel to review new evidence in death row cases that hadn't previously been heard by a court.

Bill sponsor, Republican Senator Dick Brewbaker, says he supports the death penalty in Alabama, but he thinks the state should work harder to make sure people are guilty before executing them.

Alabama lawmakers are expected to give their final approval to the General Fund budget later today. That will set up an expected veto by Gov. Robert Bentley over what he calls inadequate Medicaid funding.

Governor Bentley says the spending plan in its current form is unacceptable and he plans to veto it. The budget is $85 million short of the amount Bentley and state Medicaid commissioner Stephanie Azar say is needed to adequately fund the state's Medicaid program.

Alabama's attorney general is appealing a recent ruling that declared the state's death penalty sentencing system unconstitutional.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tracie Todd doesn't have the authority to prevent the state from seeking the death penalty against defendants who are charged with capital murder.

In Alabama death penalty cases, juries recommend sentences but judges have the final say. It’s not uncommon for state judges to overturn a jury recommendation of life in prison in favor of the death penalty.

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.

A group of fast food workers and others are traveling from Huntsville to Montgomery for a rally in support of local control of minimum wages.

Workers will be joined by clergy, community supporters, and elected officials. The group will be meeting this morning at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham before holding a rally at the state Capitol in Montgomery at 1 PM.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Alabama native Harper Lee died this morning at the age 89.

Lee is best known for “To Kill A Mockingbird”, the story of a girl nicknamed Scout growing up in a Depression-era Southern town. It tells the story of about how a black man was wrongly accused of raping a white woman, and Scout's father, the resolute lawyer Atticus Finch, defends him despite threats and the scorn of many.

Alabama’s House of Representatives has approved a bill to block cities from setting their own local minimum wages. The bill would also roll back Birmingham's wage increase to $10.10 per hour, set to take effect March 1.

Legislators approved the GOP-backed bill last night on a 71-31 vote after cutting off a filibuster by House Democrats. The measure now moves to the Alabama Senate.

Alabama doesn’t have a state minimum wage. Instead, it uses the federal minimum of $7.25.

The Tuscaloosa Police Department has announced how officers will be disciplined after a violent arrest last fall that went viral.

Police Chief Steven Anderson says Officer James Kent is still on administrative leave with pay pending disciplinary action. Officer Justin Sams received a written reprimand along with remedial training to improve his communication skills.

Tuscaloosa tornado damage
NWS Birmingham / Wikimedia

The federal government says it wants its money back after auditors claim Tuscaloosa improperly received more than $1 million in aid following the 2011 tornadoes.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General has determined the Federal Emergency Management Agency should reclaim about $1.2 million in storm assistance funding.

Tornado Damage
NWS Birmingham

After completing their damage assessments yesterday, the National Weather Service says at least four tornadoes struck western Alabama earlier this week.

NWS officials say an EF2 tornado struck the McMullen community in Pickens County Tuesday evening, destroying 13 homes. 10 of the structures were mobile homes. EF2 tornadoes can have winds speeds between 113 and 157 mph and are known to cause considerable damage.

Tornado
Scott Peake / Basehunters

The threat of flooding in parts of Alabama follows up a pair of tornadoes that hit west central Alabama last night.

Dozens of homes near Aliceville were reportedly damaged, but police report only minor injuries and no deaths. Damage assessment teams from National Weather Service will spend the morning examining the aftermath of two tornadoes that marched single file just west of Tuscaloosa.

Forecaster Jason Holmes says the clues those teams find today will establish what kind of storm hit specific areas.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

The next session for Alabama’s state legislature will convene at noon today.

State lawmakers are starting the 2016 session on Groundhog Day to some very familiar budget issues, but there will likely be some new debates as well.

Alabama’s legislative session gets underway tomorrow and the focus, is expected to be on the budget.

The state’s two spending plans were center stage during last year’s session, and lawmakers are expecting another tight year this time around. Many General Fund agencies like the one that handles Medicaid are now asking for more money.

State House member Bill Poole says the General Fund budget will be a challenge for legislators, but he believes agreements will be reached.

Christopher Brooks
Alabama Department of Corrections

The state of Alabama executed Christopher Brooks last night for the 1992 rape and murder of Deann Campbell.

The execution was the state’s first in more than two years and the first to be carried out in Alabama using the controversial new sedative midazolam. Some say midazolam carries a high risk of botched executions, and there is currently a pending lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s lethal injection procedure.

But Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn says last night’s execution went “exactly as planned”.

Alabama death row
EJI

The state of Alabama is scheduled to execute its first inmate in more than two years, and defense attorneys want to monitor the proceedings a little more closely.

Lawyers representing several Alabama death row inmates have asked a federal judge to let them view preparations for tonight’s execution of Christopher Brooks.

Last week, the attorneys filed a motion asking that one of them be allowed to view the insertion of the intravenous line before Brooks is put to death by lethal injection.

Execution witnesses do not normally see the preparations.

Ride sharing services have officially started operating in Birmingham.

Tom Maguire, general manager of Uber in Alabama told al.com users were able to hail rides from their smartphones beginning yesterday afternoon.

Ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft let people use smartphone apps to book and pay for rides. Birmingham officials had been discussing whether to allow the companies to set up shop for more than a year.

An environmental group has asked a judge to hear oral arguments in its lawsuit challenging the state of Alabama's plans to use oil spill settlement funds to build a beachfront hotel.

The Gulf Restoration Network filed the request earlier this month in federal court. The group asked for expedited arguments, citing Alabama's continued work on the project. The state is building a new 350-room beach hotel and conference center at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores.

Alabama is drying out and cleaning up from tornadoes that hit Christmas night. Flooding is also a concern as the state heads toward the New Year’s holiday.

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-0 tornado hit Tuscaloosa County Friday afternoon with winds of seventy five miles per hour. Two hours later, a confirmed EF-2 twister touched down in suburban Birmingham. That storm is confirmed to have damaged more than 70 structures, from minor damage to total destruction.

beachfront mansion
Jay Reeves / AP

Alabama is using a chunk of BP settlement money to renovate a beachfront governor's mansion that's been abandoned on the Gulf Coast for nearly two decades.

Work began earlier this month near Gulf Shores to fix the 7,500-square-foot gubernatorial mansion that was never repaired after Hurricane Danny badly damaged the home in 1997.

A spokeswoman for Governor Robert Bentley says no taxpayer money is being used in the project. She says BP grant money remaining from the 2010 oil spill is being used to cover the cost, estimated at as much as $1.8 million.

Classes are cancelled today in Headland, Alabama after storms dropped more than 5 inches over the area yesterday.

Henry County Superintendent Lesa Knowles said high winds and strong storms passed through the area early Sunday morning and peeled the roof off the Headland High School auditorium. The storms also caused leaks at Headland’s elementary school, and power outages throughout town due to felled trees. School was cancelled today, and the school board has called an emergency meeting for later today.

Forecasters say severe weather is possible this weekend for much of Alabama.

Parts of southwestern Alabama have already seen over a foot of rain this week, and the National Weather Service says even more rainfall is expected both today and tomorrow.

The NWS says severe storms will likely develop over central and southern Alabama this evening with wind gusts approaching 60 mph. Conditions may be even worse tomorrow night, with the possibility of isolated tornadoes, 70 mph winds and potential golf ball sized hail.

National Weather Service forecasters say thunderstorms this evening and tomorrow morning could bring large hail and heavy winds to parts of Alabama, and may spawn small tornadoes.

The latest forecasts and models from the NWS show that the highest potential for severe weather in the state will be in the northwest corner of Alabama, in and around the Florence area.

Forecasters say these storms hold the potential for what they describe as "brief, spin-up" tornadoes.

Residents in much of northern and central Alabama are digging out this morning after a winter storm dumped a substantial amount of snow on the region.

Roads are impassable in more than ten Alabama counties. The heaviest snow fell north of Birmingham – forecasters say some areas received upwards of ten inches of snow accumulation.

Paige Colburn is the emergency management officer for the Huntsville – Madison County EMA. She says they’re hoping to avoid a repeat of last Friday, when stuck and abandoned cars caused major problems for emergency crews.

National Weather Service

Scattered damage is being reported from strong storms that moved across Alabama overnight.

The National Weather Service says high winds tore the roofs off two homes in the northwest Alabama town of Red Bay, and trees are down on several streets. One fell on to a mobile home.

Authorities say strong winds also left scattered damage around Florence, Decatur and Marshall County.

No injuries are reported, but damage to utility lines left power outages in some areas.

Get out an umbrella: Forecasters say the next few days will be soggy across Alabama.

The National Weather Service says parts of the state could see as much as 5 inches of rain between Friday and early next week, and some areas could receive even more rain in small downpours.

While forecasters aren't predicting severe weather, they say brief periods of heavy rain and strong, gusty winds are both possible. So are rising streams and rivers that could lead to flooding.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov / The National Weather Service

The remnants of Hurricane Isaac are still causing problems in Alabama.

The National Weather Service says storms caused as much as 4 inches of rain in parts of west Alabama early Tuesday, and another 1 or 2 inches of rain was possible.

Forecasters issued flash flood warnings because runoff from the downpours could cause flooding in areas including Brent, Centreville and parts of Tuscaloosa. Areas of Dallas and Lowndes counties were under flash flood warnings in central Alabama.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov / National Weather Service

It might be a good Labor Day to be inside in parts of Alabama.

Forecasters say there's a chance of severe weather across the state on Monday as remnants of Hurricane Isaac move across the region.

The National Weather Service says central Alabama is at greatest risk, particularly in the afternoon. Damaging winds are the main threat.

Storms are predicted to continue drifting southeastward across the state through Tuesday.

The beach forecast is sunny for Labor Day, with only a 20 percent chance of rain and highs in the upper 80s and low 90s.

More rain headed toward Alabama

Jul 12, 2012
The Drought Monitor / National Drought Mitigation Center

Forecasters say more storms are headed toward Alabama, but still more rain is needed to break a worsening drought.

The National Weather Service says there's a good chance of precipitation statewide on Thursday. The Tennessee Valley counties in north Alabama could get 1 or 2 inches of rain with gusty winds, and high temperatures will top out around 80 degrees.

There's an 80 percent chance of rain in central Alabama, and a 60 percent chance on the coast.