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High Water Mark Sign Unveiled at Selma’s 4th Annual Be-Ready Day

Selma/Dallas County’s 4th Annual Be-Ready Day culminated with the National Weather Service (NWS) presenting the city with a High Water Mark Sign at Bloch Park. The High Water Mark Sign shows the highest flood level reached on the Alabama River at Selma during the official NWS period of record which dates back to 1890. The highest flood level recorded at Selma during this period occurred on March 1, 1961, when the river crested 13 feet 4 inches above flood stage at 58.35 feet. A line on the High Water Mark Sign indicates the depth of the water in Block Park during this flood.

To help raise awareness of flood risk, the NWS began a project in 2006 to install High Water Mark signs in prominent locations within communities that have experienced severe flooding. Local NWS offices coordinate with emergency management and other local officials to select the best locations for the signs. The U.S. Geological Survey is involved as well, providing historical data and aiding with the surveying of high water mark signs in their districts. 

Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist-in-Charge of the NWS Forecast Office in Birmingham, welcomed everyone to the presentation and explained the purpose for erecting the High Water Mark Sign. Following his introduction, the sign was unveiled by Rhonda Abbot, director of the Dallas County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), and Roger McNeil, Service Hydrologist for the NWS in Birmingham. After the unveiling, Mayor Evans closed the ceremony, thanking everyone involved in making the sign possible.

Left to Right, Service Hydrologist Roger McNeil, USGS Data Chief Rick Treece, Dallas County EMA Director Rhonda Abbot, Meteorologist in Charge Jim Stefkovich and Selma Mayor George Patrick Evans

 Severe flooding has been a part of Selma’s history through the years.  Despite this reality, some residents may not be fully aware of the flood potential in their area.   The High Water Mark Sign is a tool to remind and educate people about the flood risk they face at times from the Alabama River.

Some Flood Facts and History for the Alabama River at Selma -
-          Since 1960, flood stage has been reached or exceeded 24 times, or on average once every two years
-          The river has exceeded: 50 feet 8 times, or once every 5 ½ years and 55 feet 4 times, or once every 12 ½ years  
-          Peak time for flooding is normally late winter or spring, but can occur any time of the year
-          Flood of record is 58.35 feet which occurred on March 1, 1961.   This followed several days of heavy rain in which portions of the Alabama River basin received as much as 16 to 18 inches of rain. The river was in flood at Selma for 17 days.
-          More recently, the river reached a stage of 57.45 feet in March of 1990.
-          Other major flood crests included 56.0 feet in March, 192956.20 feet in December 1948 – and 57.0 feet in April 1886
The NWS Birmingham Office would like to express our appreciation to those responsible for making this event possible. Special thanks go to Rhonda Abbot of the Dallas County EMA, Rick Treece and Scott Hedgecock of the United States Geological Survey in Montgomery, and Tommy Smith and Ledell Tenner of the Publics Work Department.