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Birmingham (Alabama)

Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States Alabama Birmingham

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Introduction

Birmingham, Alabama - United States of America

Birmingham, Alabama - United States of America

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Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama with about 215,000 inhabitants. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area has a population of about 1,130,000, which is approximately one-quarter of Alabama's population.

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Weather

Birmingham has a humid subtropical climate, characterized by hot summers, mild winters, and abundant rainfall. January sees average highs in the 10-13 °C range, with lows just above freezing. In July temperatures are in the 32-34 °C range, with lows averaging around 21 °C. The record high temperature is 41.7 °C, set on July 29, 1930, and the record low is -21 °C, set on January 21, 1985. Precipitation is relatively well-distributed throughout the year, sometimes falling in the form of snow during winter. The spring and fall months are pleasant but variable as cold fronts frequently bring strong to severe thunderstorms and occasional tornadoes to the region. The fall season features less rainfall and fewer storms, as well as lower humidity than the spring, but it is also a secondary severe weather season. Birmingham is located on the heart of a Tornado Alley known as the Dixie Alley due to the frequency of tornadoes in Central Alabama. The greater Birmingham area has been hit by two F5 tornadoes; one in Birmingham's northern suburbs in 1977, and second in the western suburbs in 1998. The area has been hit by an EF4 tornado in 2011. In late summer and fall months, Birmingham experiences occasional tropical storms and hurricanes due to its proximity to the Central Gulf Coast.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max10.9 °C13.8 °C18.9 °C23.7 °C27.2 °C30.8 °C32.2 °C31.7 °C28.8 °C23.7 °C18.1 °C13.2 °C
Avg Min-0.4 °C1.4 °C5.7 °C9.6 °C14.3 °C18.4 °C20.8 °C20.4 °C17.2 °C10.1 °C5.3 °C1.6 °C
Rainfall129.5 mm119.9 mm157.2 mm126 mm123.2 mm94.7 mm133.4 mm91.2 mm99.8 mm71.4 mm110 mm130 mm
Rain Days8.97.99.27.98.47.410.67.56.75.17.78.4

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Getting There

By Plane

Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) is the main airport in Alabama and serves Birmingham and central Alabama. Connections include Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Detroit, Memphis, New York, Baltimore, Houston, Chicago, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Orlando, Tampa, St. Louis, Denver, Charlotte, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.

By Train

The Crescent operates between New York and New Orleans, stopping in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Comfort Inn - Airport4965 Montevallo RdHotel-

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 8. Last edited at 18:45 on Jul 11, 13 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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