By Edwin L. Wriston
| Feb. 5, 2020
Gov. Jim Justice has directed the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (WVDHSEM) and the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) to continue to monitor predicted heavy rainfall with potential for flash flooding today through Friday morning and to be prepared for potential weather-related issues.
A Flash Flood Watch is currently in effect until Friday morning for the following counties: Kanawha, Mingo, Logan, Boone, Clay, McDowell, Wyoming, Raleigh, Fayette, Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers and Nicholas.
A slow-moving frontal system will bring rounds of moderate to heavy rain starting today and continuing through Thursday. Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches across the southern coalfields, with isolated higher amounts, are possible. Combined with already saturated soil, today’s rainfall will create favorable conditions for flash flooding. Additional rounds of rain tonight and Thursday are likely. Heavy showers and thunderstorms that repeatedly track over the same areas could result in flash flooding of creeks and streams tonight and Thursday.
Citizens in the watch area should be aware of the possibility of rapidly rising creeks and streams. Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall can cause elevated levels on small creeks and streams, and ponding of water on country roads and farmland along the banks of creeks and streams. Ponding of water in urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses, as well as other poor drainage areas and low-lying spots is likely.
With soils already saturated, additional rains may loosen hillside materials and trees causing rock, land, or mudslides, as well as potential power outages. Be aware of potential obstructions across roadways when driving, especially at night or during times of heavy downpour or fog. Debris may also wash across roadways from swollen ditches, resulting in slick or hazardous road surfaces.
In hilly terrain there are hundreds of low water crossings which are potentially dangerous in heavy rain. Do not attempt to travel across flooded roads. Find alternate routes. It takes only a few inches of swiftly flowing water to carry vehicles away. “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”
Both WVDHSEM and WVNG are continuously monitoring weather and hydrology reports while working hand-in-hand with agencies at the State level for planning and communication purposes. The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) has been in contact with county emergency managers who may be impacted by the potential flooding and is prepared to respond accordingly for the citizens of West Virginia for the duration of this weather event.
Citizens should monitor local news providers for the very latest updated forecast models and anticipated impacts and be prepared to move to higher ground should conditions warrant evacuation.
A full list of active weather watches, warnings, and advisories for West Virginia can be found at: https://alerts.weather.gov/cap/wv.php?x=1
Current river and stream levels throughout West Virginia can be found at: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=rlx
For updated road impacts or closures, go to: http://wv511.org