To Montgomery County
The state capital lies in Montgomery County, which encompasses more than 780 square miles in the southeast portion of Central Alabama, about 100 miles south of Birmingham in Alabama’s River Region. The capital city of Montgomery is second only to Birmingham in size, with a population of nearly 200,000, according to the U.S. Census. The county’s population is approximately 226,500.
Montgomery County is known for its rich past. Civil rights movement sites such as the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church and cultural landmarks like the Hank Williams Memorial are all within the historic county. Anyone interested in its history can visit the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitor Bureau’s website, which has information on the county’s many historical markers.
The county has many attractions and cultural and fine arts opportunities. In addition to numerous recreational pursuits, there are museums, theaters and a zoo as well as shopping, dining and nightlife opportunities to explore. Annual events and festivals celebrate everything from Alabama’s wine and beer to its music and art.
Weather and Climate
The climate in Alabama tends to be warm and humid. This, with its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, can mean weather patterns that include heavy rains, tornadoes and hurricanes. Alabama has both spring and fall tornado seasons, with the two most common areas of activity being Birmingham and Mobile. Hurricanes striking the coast commonly produce tornadoes, which make their way across the state. Montgomery sits more inland, reducing the danger somewhat, but it can still have turbulent weather.
Montgomery winters are brief and mild, spring is warm and summers are long, hot and humid. The average low in January is 36 degrees, and the average high is 59, with rare freezing temperatures or snow. The average low in July is 71 degrees, and the average high is 93 degrees. January through March are the wettest months.
Every second counts in a disaster so planning and preparation can be lifesavers.
Ready Alabama is the state’s official emergency preparedness website. Ready Alabama gives residents, communities, public safety professionals, businesses and schools valuable information and resources regarding a variety of emergency scenarios. The website provides information on creating an emergency plan and emergency kit, pet preparedness and disaster preparedness for seniors. For more information about local disaster preparedness, visit www.readyalabama.gov.
Another great resource for natural disaster and severe weather information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/disasters. Here you can find information on how to prepare for various weather emergencies.
The following are considered significant hazards in Alabama.
Extreme Heat and Sun Exposure
Some exposure to sunlight is good, even healthy, but too much can be dangerous. Broad-spectrum ultraviolet radiation, listed as a known carcinogen by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, can cause blistering sunburns as well as long-term problems like skin cancer, cataracts and immune system suppression. Overexposure also causes wrinkling and premature aging of the skin.
Cloud cover reduces UV levels, but not completely. Depending on cloud cover thickness, you can still burn on a chilly, overcast day, so be prepared with sunglasses, sunscreen, long-sleeved garments, wide-brimmed hats and a parasol.
Because of the county’s high temperatures, it is important to take precautions to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Stay indoors when temperatures are extreme. Drink cool liquids often, particularly water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcoholic beverages as they dehydrate the body. Eat small, frequent meals and avoid foods high in protein, as they increase metabolic heat.
If you must venture outdoors, avoid going out during midday hours. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight. Avoid strenuous activities and keep hydrated. Cover all exposed skin with a high SPF sunscreen and follow general sun exposure precautions. Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale and clammy skin; a fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; and fainting. If you experience symptoms of heat exhaustion, you should move to a cooler location. Lie down and loosen your clothing, then apply cool, wet cloths to your body. Sip water. If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention. You should seek out immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of heat stroke, such as a body temperature of more than 103 degrees; hot, red, dry or moist skin; a rapid and strong pulse; or unconsciousness. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat.
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Even beyond coastal regions, flash floods, inland flooding and seasonal storms affect every region of the country, damaging homes and businesses. It is dangerous to underestimate the force and power of water.
During a flood watch or warning, gather your emergency supplies and stay tuned to local radio or TV stations for further weather information. If you are outdoors during a rainstorm, seek higher ground. Avoid walking through any floodwaters — even water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. If you are driving, avoid flooded areas. The majority of deaths in floods occur when people drive through flooded areas. Roads concealed by water may not be intact. Water only a foot deep can displace a vehicle. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water can engulf a vehicle and sweep it away.
For more on protecting yourself from flooding in Alabama, go to www.readyalabama.gov/flood-preparedness.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including high winds, heavy rain, flooding and storm surges (high tidal waves). Visit www.readyalabama.gov/hurricane-preparedness for preparedness tips and help in creating a hurricane emergency plan.
While more likely at certain times of the year, thunderstorms can happen anytime. A severe thunderstorm can knock out power; bring high winds, lightning, flash floods and hail; and spin into a twister in seconds. Pay attention to storm warnings. Remember the rule: “When thunder roars, head indoors.” The National Weather Service recommends following the 30/30 rule: People should seek shelter if the “flash-to-bang” delay — the length of time in seconds from the sight of the lightning flash to the arrival of its subsequent thunder — is 30 seconds or less, and remain under cover for 30 minutes after the final thunderclap.
For more information, visit the National Weather Service’s website at www.weather.gov/safety/lightning.
Tornadoes can develop quickly, with minimal warning, so it is important to have a plan in place before they occur. If a tornado watch is issued, weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes, such as during a severe thunderstorm. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by weather radar. You should take shelter immediately during a tornado warning.
For more information on tornado preparedness, go to www.cdc.gov/disasters/tornadoes.
Montgomery was originally the site of two Indian towns, Ikanatchati and Towasa, where ancestors of the Alibamu Indians lived. Though Spanish explorers passed through the area in 1540, the first white settlement was by Scottish trader James McQueen in 1716.
A trading post was established in 1785, and Alabama Town was founded in the 1800s. That town was abandoned for a new town of East Alabama. Another group of settlers had built a settlement they dubbed Philadelphia, and a rivalry grew as both settlements worked to make their towns grow and flourish. In 1819, the towns merged to become Montgomery, named in honor of Gen. Richard Montgomery, a Revolutionary War hero. Alabama was admitted as a state in the Union just 11 days later.
In 1834 the Montgomery Railroad Co. was established and a rail route built through the town, linking it to New York City and New Orleans and bringing the population to more than 2,000. The state capital was moved to Montgomery from Tuscaloosa in 1846.
With the Civil War came strong anti-Northern sentiment and secession. Alabama was a slave-based economy, and white plantation owners did not want to lose this important part of their socioeconomic structure. Representatives of six states gathered in Montgomery and chose it as capital of the Confederate States of America. The capital was eventually moved to Virginia, but dedication to the Confederate cause remained strong in Montgomery, even after Union Gen. James Wilson took it back
Despite a slow recovery after the Civil War, the town stood at more than 16,000 people by 1880, due in part to continued railroad expansion. Industrialists began to make their way there, further increasing commerce and the population. By the 1940s, Montgomery had almost 78,000 residents.
Montgomery was the site of landmark civil rights events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Ride of 1961 and the Selma-to-Montgomery marches. Rosa Parks’ famous refusal to give up her seat on a public bus occurred in Montgomery, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. founded the Montgomery Improvement Association there, organizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This led to a court ruling that Montgomery’s racial segregation on buses was unconstitutional, and the system was abolished. In 1965, King led 25,000 demonstrators on a march from Selma to Montgomery, seeking voting rights for African-Americans and leading to the signing of the Voting Rights Act, a major accomplishment for civil rights
By the late 1990s new construction and changes at Maxwell Air Force Base brought even more economic progress. Modern Montgomery enjoys continued growth and development with a rebuilding of its downtown and a new influx of tourists exploring the area’s rich history.
State of Alabama
Emergency Management Agency
The Alabama Emergency Management Agency plans for and responds to natural and man-made disasters. Visit the agency’s website for preparedness information and resources.
The Montgomery City/County Emergency Management Agency manages and coordinates efforts toward a rapid recovery from disasters. The agency aims to prevent disasters when possible and to reduce the impact of disasters that cannot be prevented. Visit the agency’s website to sign up for emergency alerts and for emergency preparedness guides.