Steady rainfall predicted for the region
HUNTINGTON — The Tri-State is expected to soak up between 1 to 2 inches of rainfall as the last gasps of Hurricane Florence pass through the Ohio River Valley from Sunday evening through Monday, though meteorologists project only localized flash flooding and an isolated threat for tornadoes in the region.
Storm bands are expected to be tempered by the eastern mountains, creating a rain shadow that will cause much of the state’s rainfall on area’s like Lewisburg and Princeton, explained Nick Webb of the National Weather Service’s Charleston office.
“Overall, anything significant should stay well to our east,” Webb said Sunday.
As of Sunday, only Mercer and Monroe counties are under a flash flood watch, though all of West Virginia, southern Ohio and eastern Kentucky are marked by the NWS for a “hazardous weather outlook” warning of locally heavy rainfall and the brief potential for an isolated tornado.
Rain will continue to make its way from south to north beginning Sunday, the heaviest expected late Sunday into early Monday. Showers may slow Monday morning, but only to pick up again in the afternoon, Webb said.
Local wind gusts are not expected to exceed 20 MPH, Webb said, though the mountains may see winds up to 40 MPH at higher elevations. Though these speeds along aren’t typically enough to cause much damage, Webb warned that the already saturated soil, compounded with the current rainfall, may cause weak or poorly-rooted trees to fall.
The Ohio River is not expected to swell with much significance during the storm - most of the flooding would likely be isolated in low-lying, flash flood prone areas, Webb said. Whether flash flooding actually happens or not is still a question dependent on whether all the rain falls at once, he added.
Though the potential impact of Florence regionally has be steadily downgrade as the storm approaches, state utilities are still prepped for a worse scenario.
West Virginia American Water has readied additional employees and technicians to respond to service disruptions and main breaks, and fueled “a large number” of generators should power outages disrupt their hundreds of electricity-depended facilities, according to a company statement. Operational alerts and potential boil water advisories can be found at westvirginiaamwater.com.
Appalachian Power has also scheduled additional crews to deal with any potential power outages in the region, according to a company release. Only around 40 AEP customers were out of power in Cabell County as of Sunday evening, the majority along Cyrus Creek Road in Barboursville and West 22nd Street in Huntington.
Outages may be seen in real-time online at appalachianpower.com/outages.
The system is expected to clear out of the area by Tuesday morning and return to a regular seasonal pattern, with clear skies and highs in the upper 70s to low 80s by midweek.
Follow reporter Bishop Nash on Twitter at @BishopNash.