Widespread flooding hits US South and Midwest, excessive rain continues

Widespread flooding hits US South and Midwest, excessive rain continues

Several days of heavy rainfall and snowmelt caused widespread flooding from parts of US South to Midwest, leading to numerous water rescues and leaving at least one person dead. Excessive rain and areal flooding will continue over the next couple of days, NWS warns. Numerous Winter Weather Advisories are in effect from central Texas to Illinois. 

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice issued a state of emergency on Saturday, February 17, 2018, for all 55 counties of the state due to flooding. Justice issued it early Saturday after heavy rain triggered flooding in multiple locations and caused many rivers to rise, including the Ohio, West Fork, Tiger Valley, Little Kanawha, Buckhannon and Monongahela.

Overflowing creeks and rivers also caused some flooding in eastern and southern Ohio, in particular in Jefferson and Belmont Counties, where emergency teams made several flood rescues on February 17.

According to the National Weather Service, the Ohio River at Cincinnati reached its flood stage of 15.8 m (52 feet) on February 18, causing minor flooding. The river was expected to continue rising to near 17 m (55.9 feet) by Wednesday morning, February 21 before falling below flood stage Friday morning.

The Ohio River at Pomeroy, Ohio, was above major flood stage (15.2 m / 50 feet) on February 18 and stood at 15.36 m (50.4 feet) on the 19th.

A 52-year-old woman died early Tuesday, February 20, 2018, after her vehicle rolled into a rain-filled ditch and was submerged along Illinois Route 45, south of Barr Road in Will County, IL. Peotone Fire Chief Willian Schreiber said there were multiple crashes at that intersection, which is a 'very low spot,' with water flowing across the road.

Residents from a dozen homes along the Baugo Creek in Indiana's Elkhart County had to be rescued by boat, authorities said. The flooding also stranded several cars and forced closure of multiple roads.

The local wastewater treatment plant in La Porte, IN overflowed for just the fourth time over the course of 10 years.

Numerous road accidents were reported on icy roads of Oklahoma on Tuesday and temperatures there are expected to continue below freezing today.

Flooding was also reported in Texas, where residents living near White Rock Creek in Dallas had to be evacuated from their flooded homes after water level rapidly rose Tuesday night.

Several days of heavy rainfall will lead to flash flooding and river flooding from the Southern Plains to the Southern Great Lakes over the next couple of days, NWS warns. At the same time, a band of freezing rain is forecast across portions of the Southern Plains into the Middle Mississippi Valley. Numerous Winter Weather Advisories are in effect from central Texas to Illinois. 

"Excessive rain and areal flooding will continue from portions of the Southern Plains to the Great Lakes Region as warm Gulf moisture lifts northward along a slow-moving frontal boundary," NWS forecaster Campbell noted, adding that cold air behind the front will allow for snow, or possible a wintry mix/ freezing rain.

While several locations across Lower Great Lakes/western Ohio Valley already have minor to moderate flooding, any additional rainfall will likely exacerbate the situation. 

Featured image: Flooding in Dallas, Texas on February 20, 2018. Credit: Live Storms Media

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