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The rest of the state is drained southward through broad valleys.The Coosa and the Tallapoosa rivers join north of Montgomery to form the Alabama River, which meanders southwestward until it connects with the Tombigbee River, which drains the state’s western portion.In late summer and early fall, southern areas can be hit by strong tropical storms, including hurricanes as they sweep northward from the Gulf; Hurricanes Camille (1969) and Katrina (2005) were especially devastating to coastal areas.The northern half of the state lies in the southern range of the country that is most affected by tornadoes.Occasionally, large-scale outbreaks of multiple tornadoes have turned particularly deadly and destructive in the region, as they did in April 1974 and in April 2011.The warm climate of Alabama has nurtured a rich plant cover, including more than 100 tree varieties.Below that the band of prairie lowland known as the Black Belt has rich soils that once cradled a rural cotton-producing way of life central to the state’s development.
It was a battleground for European powers vying for the lands of the New World, for the fights between the European settlers and the indigenous communities, for the struggles between North and South during the American Civil War, for the civil rights movement, and for other forces of economic and social change that have extensively altered many aspects of the Deep South in the years since the mid-20th century.Muscadine and scuppernong grapes and blackberries also flourish.Beardlike Spanish moss grows in the coastal woodlands. Bluebirds, cardinals, blue jays, mockingbirds, doves, woodpeckers, owls, hawks, yellow-shafted flickers (called yellowhammers in Alabama), and an occasional eagle are found here.Sweet gum and black walnut are also common, while the colourful red cedar is most abundant in the Tennessee valley and the Black Belt, with stately black cypress clustering around rivers and ponds.
There are many varieties of shrubs and grasses, and bamboo, large canes, and mistletoe are widespread.Within this gradation, several relief regions may be distinguished.Cumberland Plateau region, segmented by upper branches of the Cumberland, Kentucky, and Tennessee river systems, thrusts southward from Tennessee.A small triangular portion of the Piedmont Plateau juts across from Georgia at an elevation averaging 1,000 feet (300 metres).