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Major flood event in the Four Rivers Region

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UPDATE: 6:10 AM Tuesday – Last night’s severe weather brought more rain and high winds to our area.  Hail was reported in Christian County and wind brought down power lines and trees southeast of Hopkinsville.  Funnel clouds were reported in Todd and Muhlenberg counties.  Damaging winds were also reported in Calloway County.  According to National Weather Service spotters, hundreds of trees have been uprooted.  Power lines and poles have also been reported down on roads throughout Calloway.  Wind speeds up to 71 miles per hour were reported in Henderson County.  Gauges in Caldwell County recorded speeds of 50 miles an hour before equipment blew away.  Kentucky Mesonet also reported an 101 mile an hour wind in Calloway. Calloway Co. and Murray Independent School Districts will not be in session today. Murray State University is Closed (essential personnel should report to campus). Hopkins County (1 hour delay).

Please check back here often, we’ll continue to update this page as more information comes in.

Rain and severe weather continue today through Wednesday. National Weather Service forecasters predict an additional 9 inches of rain by mid-week.

Meteorologist Kelly Hooper: “We’re looking at a historical flooding event with this system because we still have a couple more days of rainfall to go, with several more inches forecast,” Hooper says. “We’re going to see record levels on some of the area rivers, which is going to cause a lot of the tributaries of the creeks and the streams not to be able to drain, which is only going to exacerbate the flooding.”

Kentucky Transportation officials warn drivers the best practice is to turn around, don’t drown. Area residents should avoid unnecessary travel. Many of our counties are under flash flood warnings and watches, with numerous highways, roads, and streets flooded.

Governor Beshear declares a State of Emergency

From the Office of the Governor:

Governor Steve Beshear declared a State of Emergency Monday, April 25 due to the severe storms and flooding that have impacted the state beginning last week.

Heavy rains and multiple rounds of severe weather occurred over much of Kentucky, Southwest Missouri, Southern Illinois and Southern Indiana over the weekend. This weather pattern is expected to continue for the next several days. As a result, sharp rises have occurred on the minor rivers and tributaries across most of the Commonwealth; minor to moderate flooding is expected on these water courses.

The Ohio and Mississippi Rivers are forecast to have major flooding with the possibility of historic flooding along the rivers from KY/TN Line on the Mississippi through the Cairo confluences and all the way up the Ohio River to Smithland, Ky. Moderate flooding on the Ohio is expected from Smithland upstream to Louisville.

“Today I have issued this declaration in order to make sure our citizens and local officials have all the help they need to prepare and respond to these storms,” said Gov. Beshear. “This declaration opens up the pipelines and the purse strings to enable us to get resources to where they are needed, as quickly as possible. In addition, all of state government has been mobilized to assist Kentuckians in need.”

Gov. Beshear is also prepared to assist Kentucky farmers and consumers. “My office has already been in contact with the United States Department of Agriculture, and we will request a disaster declaration if flooding causes damage to agricultural lands as is expected,” said Gov. Beshear. “In addition, my office has conferred with the office of Attorney General Jack Conway, and as a result of these conversations, we will be issuing an order to prevent price gouging shortly.”

In support of the ongoing severe weather threat Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM) has activated the Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center (CEOC) at Level II. Another weather system is approaching the Commonwealth bringing the threat of additional heavy rains and the possibility of severe weather through Wednesday. Additional personnel from KYEM and Kentucky National Guard (KyNG) are now on CEOC duty monitoring the developing situation and fulfilling any requests for assistance.

Written disaster declarations have been received for the City of Bardwell as well as Carlisle, Fulton, Hickman, Spencer and Livingston Counties. Verbal declarations have been received by Ballard and McCracken Counties. More are expected as the storms continue.

The National Weather Service (NWS) offices serving Kentucky have been in communication with emergency officials across the Commonwealth discussing the situation and potential threat of high wind, large hail, heavy rain and possible tornadoes. KYEM officials, in turn, have maintained direct communications with the Governor’s office.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) and local health departments across the state are prepared to provide support to response efforts as needed. DPH also reminds Kentuckians that contact with flood waters should be avoided whenever possible as they may contain contaminants that could pose health hazards. Homeowners whose homes sustained water damage are also urged to follow safety recommendations to limit mold damage and ensure proper food handling and storage. More detailed health and safety guidelines can be found at the Health Alerts website: http://healthalerts.ky.gov/.

The Transportation Cabinet is providing equipment like pumps, dump trucks and sandbagging machines to counties who have requested them. Crews are also patrolling flood-prone areas and they are ready to respond to additional flooding. They also respond to calls about flooded roads that come from law enforcement or the public at large.

For road closures and conditions, please visit www.511.ky.gov, or call 511.

Emergency officials encourage individuals to use NOAA Weather Alert Radios and stay tuned to local media for weather updates and flood information.

Should you encounter a downed power line, do not approach it, call your utility provider. Should you encounter water over a flooded roadway, “Stop – Turn Around – Don’t Drown!” It only takes six inches of moving water to sweep a person off their feet and two feet of rushing water to sweep away a full-size SUV.

Weather safety tips and weather alerts by county can be found on the KYEM website at www.kyem.ky.gov.

“Please follow instructions from your local emergency management officials,” said Gov. Beshear. No trip is worth taking the risk through a flooded roadway.”

Ballard County

Sand bag deliveries are coming in at Ballard County. Emergency Manager Michael Clarke says some families have already evacuated from Bandana and Oscar. Clarke says water will likely top out at 60 feet in Wickliffe. He says most of the town should be high enough to avoid flooding. Hickman County Judge-Executive Greg Pruitt this morning declared a state of emergency. He says the major concern in his county are the 50 – 60 households in the Moscow community.

“They’re basically two entrances into that little neighborhood in the county. And when water gets up as high as it’s predicted, both ends of Moscow get shut off. And so we’re paying particular attention to that area.”

Carlisle County

In addition to preparing for flooding, Carlisle County officials are also recovering from the weekend’s severe storm damage. No injuries were reported, but high winds, and a possible tornado tore off roofs and knocked down utility poles. County Emergency Manager Missy Roland says they’ve turned their attention to flash flooding. Roland says because the ground is so saturated, water will stick around in low-lying areas.

Bardwell Mayor on Suspected Tornado Damage

A suspected tornado over the weekend caused over $3 million in damage to downtown Bardwell and Carlisle County. Schools there are closed today. Several buildings’ roofs were torn off and others collapsed Saturday. Many utility lines and poles were downed causing electricity outages, but power has since been restored. No injuries were reported. Bardwell Mayor Philip King says several city firefighters witnessed the event.

“When you’ve got debris in the air spinning. That is a tornado,” King says.

The National Weather Service has been unable to send an assessment team to verify the weather event was in fact a tornado because of flooded roadways and current severe weather observation priorities.

Fulton County

Fulton County Judge Executive David Gallagher announced that he has declared Fulton County in a state of emergency because of heavy rains and flooding along the Mississippi River. Emergency management officials met Monday morning with the Fulton County Levee Board, officials from the cities of Hickman and Fulton and emergency service agencies to make plans for what is predicted to be a flood of historic proportions.

Judge Gallagher and emergency officials are urging residents living in low lying areas to make plans now to evacuate if conditions get worse. Now is the time to check your emergency kit and evacuation plans. You are reminded to never drive through standing water. “Turn around, don’t drown.”

Hopkins County

Schools operating on one-hour delay Tuesday, April 26.

Livingston County

Emergency management teams along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers are filling sandbags and recruiting volunteers ahead of possibly record floods next week. Livingston County Emergency Management Director David Koon says flooding at Smithland is his major concern. The river is expected to crest at 54 feet there, and Smithland’s flood gates only go to 50 feet. Koon says water will make it into town by Wednesday. He’s telling residents to get out.

“Get somewhere to higher ground. If you don’t get out now, you’re going to get trapped behind the flood waters. And then we’re going to have a hard time getting to you if you have an emergency.”

Paducah and McCracken County

Due to flooding, the Greenway Trail is closed until further notice.

As the lower Ohio River faces record flood levels, businesses along the riverfront are urgently working to protect lives and properties.  Employees at James Marine, which has multiple locations along the riverfront, have been sandbagging the area around their offices all day. A spokesperson at the Clarks River Road office says water could flood their building tomorrow. They’ve had to use a pontoon to travel around their Walker Boat Yard location.

Paducah and McCracken County have also declared a state of emergency. City officials are installing the city’s 20 floodgates today. Paducah spokesperson Pam Spencer says they hope to have all of the gates up by Wednesday. The closure will cut off the Convention and Expo Center. That means the American Quilter’s Society Show and Contest will move to an alternate space for their event this week. AQS President Meredith Shroeder says they considered canceling the show.

“And the main reason we did not, we had so many people coming from out of town. They had airlines, they had non-refundable hotel rooms. They would have lost all that. And so we determined that, well, we believe this is workable, we can do this.” 14 sec. Meredith

Update regarding Quilt Show

From Elaine Spalding, Paducah Chamber: The flood gates are being installed and Paducah is in a state of emergency due to high water. However, the AQS Quilt Show is still on!

All the events scheduled in Expo Center & Convention Center have been relocated.
Quilt Museum – open w/ same events + Food tents and Live Auction
Carson Center – open w/ same events
Expo Center & Convention Center – closed; events moved to Pavilion
Pavilion – open; previous vendors moved to Mall area (old Circuit City and Office Max bldg’s)
First Baptist Church – venue for seminars

The CVB is printing new maps & PATS will have all this info for Quilters.

Land Between the Lakes

Extreme rainfall over the weekend and more predicted over the next two days, has created the potential for additional flooding and caused the staff at Land Between The Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area to close or restrict certain facilities, roads, trails, and campsites. Lake levels for Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley are expected to rise due to the flooding on the Ohio River. Visitors should use caution on all roads and lakeside areas in LBL due to possible flooding from extreme rainfall, rising lake levels, and overly saturated soil conditions.

Turkey Bay OHV Area and Energy Dam have been temporarily closed due to the large amounts of rainfall. Some trails, roads, and boat ramps that are prone to flooding or danger from rising lake levels have also been closed. LBL staff warns visitors who use the trails, roads, camping areas, and boat ramps to be extremely cautious. In addition, everyone is urged to use caution when crossing creeks, streams, or any areas with standing or flowing water. All low lying areas should be avoided whenever possible. Gravel roads have the potential to washout during these heavy rain events. Please use extreme caution when traveling on LBL’s gravel roads.

Due to water over the road, access to Energy Lake Campground is only available via Road 134 from US68/KY80 at this time.

Visitors to LBL are encouraged to check the Alerts & Notices page on our website at http://www.lbl.org or to “Call Before You Haul,” 270-924-2000, for current information and details.

Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley

Officials at Kentucky and Barkley dams have reduced summer pool levels to make room for the extra rain this week. The National Weather Service in Paducah predicts the Ohio and Mississippi in our region will reach their highest points May 3.

Long Term Outlook

The long term outlook isn’t good either, the Ohio River isn’t expected to crest until May 3rd and at that point to rival the 1937  flood in some areas.

Road Conditions

The US Weather Service indicates over the next few days a “potential for catastrophic flash flooding” with rain amounts not seen in decades. This creates a number of driving hazards.  Expect flooding in areas that don’t normally flood.  It is important to move to higher ground before the roads you might have to use for that move are blocked by flash flooding.

The greatest potential for loss of life from flash flooding is on the roads. Kentucky Transportation Spokesman Keith Todd says best practice is to turn around, don’t drown. Todd urges area residents to avoid unnecessary travel.  Many of our counties are under flash flood warnings and watches.  Numerous highways, roads, and streets are flooded due to heavy rain over the last couple of days.

Road Closures / Water Over Road Reports: ‪

Ballard County: 

KY 286 near the 6 mm due to a washed out drainage structure

US 51 is Closed at about the 7 mile marker in Ballard County due to rising flood waters. This closure is on US 51 between Wickliffe and the Ohio River Bridge at Cairo. Flood waters rose faster than expected requiring the roadway to close immediately.

Calloway County:

KY 783 between the 5 and 6 mm

Carlisle County:

US 62 between 2-5 mm between KY 1181 and KY 408.

Graves County:

Ky 1283 at KY 58 due to high water.

Livingston County: 

KY 952 between 2-3 mm due to a washed out cross drain

Effective at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 26, 2011, US 60 will be closed to through traffic in Livingston County. The actual closure point will be at mile point 11.462 to mile point 11.935 in Smithland. Message boards will be placed at the US 60/US 62 intersection in McCracken County and US 60/US 641 intersection in Crittenden County advising motorists that US 60 is closed to all through traffic. Based on the anticipated flood level, this closure will remain in place until flood waters recede.‬ The closure of US 60 starting in the morning is necessary to allow placement of sandbags on the levee in Smithland. Floodwater is anticipated to be over US 60 in multiple locations by the middle of the week.‬

Motorists traveling between Marion and Paducah should self detour via US 641 and Interstate 24 through Eddyville.

Lyon County:

Highway engineers are attempting to repair a landslide along KY 93 in Lyon County south of Eddyville. This is on KY 93 between the 8 and 9 mile marker. This landslide has damaged the roadway between Holiday Hills Subdivision and Eddy Creek. The Lyon County Highway Maintenance Crew placed about 70 tons of millings along the roadway today to help stabilize the area. The slide is attributed to saturated soil from recent heavy rain. Message boards are up to alert motorists to this work zone. KYTC personnel will be on site monitoring the slide for additional movement overnight. A crew plans to resume repair efforts at the site on Tuesday. Motorists should use caution in the area.

Marshall County:

KY 2595/Lakeview Church Rd.  between the 3-4 mm

KY 1462/Dump Road at 0-1mm

KY 1949 at 7-8mm) at tunnel

KY 795 at 3-4mm

McCracken County: 

KY 1954/Husbands Road  near the intersection with Geibe Road at about the 1.5 mm

KY 131/Said Road at 0-1 mm just north of the McCracken-Graves Line

KY 787/Bryant Ford Road at 1-2 mm near the Clarks River

KY 305/Old Cairo Road at mile point 1.336 at the KY 1565 Intersection

KY 1565 at 0 to 1 mm at the KY 305 Intersection

KY 1420/Noble Road at 3-4 mm

KY 1208 Bonds

Trigg County:

KY 1507/Barefield Road  1-2 mm

Delays/Closures:

Carlisle Co. Schools Closed, Hopkins Co. Schools (opens 1 hour late), Murray Independent Schools Closed

Road Condition Links:

Kentucky: http://511.ky.gov/kyhb/main.jsf
Kentucky Transportation on FacebookDistrict 1District 2.
Illinois: http://wrc.gettingaroundillinois.com/pages/wrc.htm
Tennessee: http://ww2.tdot.state.tn.us/tsw/smartmap.htm

Other Important links:

Latest Regional Weather Info: National Weather Service – Paducah
Our Regional Weather Page: http://www.wkms.org/weather.php

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