Weekend storm raises flooding threat in region

February 21, 2019
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Motorists in the 800 block of Adams Avenue pass through high water caused by heavy rain on Wednesday in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — It appears that the region will weather one flooding threat, but the National Weather Service is alerting for the possibility of flash flooding this weekend as a storm system is expected to bring heavy rains into the Ohio River Valley.

Meanwhile, a flood watch remained in effect for much of the area until Thursday morning, with up to 1 to 2 inches of rain possible. The rain, combined with a saturated ground, will likely lead to flooding along creeks, streams and rivers that are already running high.

The watch was in effect for more than 20 West Virginia counties, including Cabell, Wayne, Mason, Lincoln and Putnam. Portions of northeast Kentucky, southeast Ohio and southwest Virginia were also affected.

In Huntington on Wednesday, drivers waded through water in the roadway near West 8th Street and Adams Avenue. The 10th Street underpass, which is prone to flooding, was closed Wednesday afternoon because of impassable high water.

Water had begun to accumulate at the 1st Street and 8th Street underpasses, but was not high enough to trigger closings.

No water rescues or accidents had been reported because of high water, said Caleb Stevens, Cabell County 911 supervisor. Emergency crews will continue to monitor the situation.

In Ashland, the Ohio River had reached the minor flood stage at 50.3 feet, but was expected to go down by Thursday.

Floodgates had not been activated and there was only minor flooding in areas with poor drainage, a Boyd County 911 dispatcher said.

The National Weather Service predicted the area will dry out Thursday evening before another storm system moves in this weekend.

A “special weather statement” was issued because of a storm system that would likely bring heavy rains Friday. Torrential rainfall was observed with the storm system, which could cause rapid rises in water and flooded roadways.

“In hilly terrain there are hundreds of low water crossings, which are potentially dangerous in heavy rain,” according to the statement. “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.”

People living in flood-prone areas were advised to be prepared and seek higher ground should high water occur.

The Ohio River level in Huntington was measured at approximately 35 feet Wednesday, well below the minor flood stage. It was predicted to remain below 50 feet following the weekend’s storm, more than 2 feet short of reaching the minor flood stage.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.