Flood rain inundates elements of Kentucky, West Virginia; Storm menace lingers within the south | The climate channel – Article from the climate channel
- A dangerous risk of flash floods continues into early Monday.
- Over 100 reports of flooding from Kentucky to western Maryland have been received since early Sunday.
- Severe thunderstorms are also a threat.
Flood rains and violent thunderstorms cloud parts of the Ohio Valley and the south as February ends with a bang and the calendar changes to March.
Dangerous flash floods have already occurred in parts of the Ohio Valley and Appalachian Mountains, particularly parts of Kentucky and West Virginia.
In Murray, Kentucky, near the Tennessee state line, about 90 miles west-northwest of Nashville, widespread flooding has been reported, including flooding of homes, businesses and major highways.
Flooding in Todd County, Kentucky, resulted in the evacuation of several homes in the town of Elkton, where water was reported to have been up to and below some structures. A rare flash flood emergency from the National Weather Service for the area.
A stretch of road was washed out in Graves County. At least one vehicle was trapped on a flooded street in Hopkinsville. A high school softball field in Booneville was flooded.
In West Virginia, a reservoir flowed onto Highway 34 near the city of Hurricane, about halfway between Charleston and Huntington. A motorist was rescued after driving onto a flooded road near the city.
Water seeped into several homes and some back streets began to wash out in Pennsboro, West Virginia. In Mineral County, roads have been blocked by up to 3 feet of water. Deckers Creek in Morgantown flooded a street Sunday afternoon.
A rapid water rescue was reported south of Huntington, West Virginia, and at least one street in the city of Huntington was flooded.
Numerous roads have been closed due to flooding in Switzerland County, Indiana and Pike County, Ohio.
Over 100 reports of flash floods were received by the National Weather Service Sunday from Kentucky to West Maryland.
In parts of the south there were violent thunderstorms late on Sunday morning. Hail the size of a ping pong ball has been reported in Grayson County, Texas.
The map below shows the current active flash flood warnings, severe thunderstorm and tornado monitors and warnings.
Current radar, storm clocks and warnings
Deep moisture from an advancing cold front and jet stream energy combine to create this dual risk of flooding and severe thunderstorms by early Monday morning.
(MORE: The March weather has a stormy reputation)
Let’s take a closer look at each threat.
The heaviest additional rain will fall in parts of Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi, and northern Alabama by Monday morning. Some of these areas can take an additional 3 inches of rain or more.
(This should be interpreted as a broad view of where the heaviest rain can fall.)
This additional rain, on top of what has already fallen, is likely to trigger additional flash floods, particularly in hilly terrain, as well as small, medium, and locally large river floods.
The National Weather Service has issued flood watches to the Appalachians from the lower Mississippi Valley.
NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center has issued a moderate risk of excessive rainfall – the second highest risk – in much of Kentucky, northern Tennessee, and parts of West Virginia by early Monday morning.
According to NOAA, the humidity levels – what meteorologists refer to as precipitable water – were close to record levels in the Ohio Valley at the end of February, two to three times the average.
Another problem, according to the NWS Ohio River Forecast Center, was the Appalachian Mountains, where rain and warmer temperatures were thought to melt a significant portion of the existing snowpack from east west Virginia to southwest Pennsylvania.
Never drive through flooded roads. Over half of all flood deaths occur in vehicles.
A cold front will dry out the Ohio Valley and Appalachian Mountains by Monday, but areas with locally heavy rain could linger in the south until Wednesday as another wave of low pressure forms along the east-west frontal border in the deep south.
(CARDS: 7-day forecast)
There is also a risk of severe thunderstorms on the table by early Monday morning.
Humid air with dew points from Texas to the Tennessee Valley reigns until the end of February. With an active jet stream that ensures wind shear, the stage is at least ready for storms in parts of the south.
Occasional severe thunderstorms are expected from parts of northeast Texas to southeast Oklahoma, Arkansas, northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi, Tennessee, northern Alabama, and southern Kentucky.
Harmful thunderstorms and some tornadoes are possible in these areas. A large hail is also possible.
((MORE: Will La Niña trigger a dangerous storm season?)
Heavy thunderstorm forecast
(On the map above, the probability of severe thunderstorms is shaded according to the NOAA Storm Prediction Center. Note that not all categories apply to severe weather risk on a given day.)
While thunderstorms are possible in the deep south on Monday and Tuesday, the risk of thunderstorms on these days seems to be minimal.
Make sure you have multiple options for getting severe weather alerts that can wake you up at night, including your smartphone and NOAA weather radio. Make sure your smartphone is charged and alerts are turned on.
These alerts could deliver the precious minutes it takes to get to shelter quickly and save your life.
We already had two deadly tornadoes in the south in 2021, which did not occur during major storms. Both also occurred at night.
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