At Least 37 Deaths Attributed to Flooding Event in Eastern Kentucky

Posted: August 4, 2022 6:27 am

One week after a historic flooding event raged through eastern Kentucky, this corner of the U.S. is dealing with soaring temperatures and the potential of more drenching rain. Here is the latest on the recovery and clean-up effort in the Bluegrass State as well as a look at the forecast.

Latest on the Search and Recovery Efforts in Eastern Kentucky

At least 37 people are confirmed dead after last week’s flooding event in the eastern part of Kentucky. Raging waters ripped through many of the state’s most vulnerable communities last Wednesday and Thursday, ripping homes off of their foundations and stranding people trying to escape the flood waters.

As of Wednesday, there were still about 5,000 customers without power. Complicating the already dire situation is a surge of heat and humidity pressing down on the region. While temperatures are forecast to top out in the upper 80s on Thursday, the rising humidity levels will bring the real feel readings to over the century mark to close out the work week.

There are multiple counties in the eastern edge of the state that are under heat advisories through Thursday evening. In addition to the lack of electricity for many areas, some Kentuckians are also dealing with a lack of access to reliable drinking water.

Many individuals and organizations have pitched in to aid in the cleanup efforts. Country music performer Chris Stapleton visited Whitesburg on Tuesday, showing his support to the residents near his hometown of Staffordsville, Kentucky.

The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team also lended a hand, organizing an event to raise money for the Kentucky Flood Relief fund. The drive had raised almost $3 million by the end of Tuesday.

Joey Foley/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

More Rain Potentially on the Way

Unfortunately for this water-logged region, parts of Kentucky may be on the periphery of a major rain event setting up for much of the eastern half of the nation. The rain will start on Thursday in the Ohio Valley before expanding into the Great Lakes and beyond. By the end of the day, the storms may be encroaching on parts of the central and northern Appalachians, threatening flood-ravaged places such as Hazard, Kentucky with a 50% chance of afternoon or evening thunderstorms. The area will continue to see the threat of severe thunderstorms and heavy rain through the weekend.

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This risk of drenching rain and flash flooding will also hit many other areas of the Ohio Valley and the interior Northeast. This includes the cities of Indianapolis, Detroit, Columbus, and Pittsburgh.

Like the flooding event that happened last week, a front that is forecast to stall will provide the necessary conditions for persistent rainfall that repeats for several days. While the weather situation on Friday and Saturday is not forecast to be as severe as what happened last week in St. Louis and Kentucky, the already saturated grounds of the Ohio Valley and the central Appalachians will find it difficult to take on much more water without the threat of flash flooding.

After the storms ramp up in intensity and duration along the frontal zone on Thursday, the front is expected to stall on Friday and Saturday in an area stretching from the mid-Mississippi Valley into the northern reaches of New England. Parts of eastern Missouri all the way through Maine can expect to see rainfall amounts between 1 -2 inches through Saturday. Heavier amounts are likely in some sections of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. The central and northern Appalachians will also be under the gun for heavy rainfall.

Low-lying areas near small streams in parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia will be at the highest risk of flooding. If last week taught residents anything, it is that you should always be aware of the potential of flash flooding. Having a plan in place to move to higher ground is a prudent step.

Will the Northeast See Any of This Rain?

Forecasters are still unsure about how much rain the Northeast will receive out of this front in the coming days. If the front stalls early in its migration, it will be the Appalachians that see the most of the precipitation. This would translate to little rainfall for the Interstate 95 corridor.

However, if the front keeps moving before it stops to a crawl, the busy corridor stretching from New York City to Boston could get slammed with heavy downpours on Saturday after the Appalachians see the drenching rain on Friday. The most likely scenario sees the northern tier of Maryland and Virginia through New Jersey and Pennsylvania seeing the most rain. The southwestern corner of New England as well as central and southeastern New York state will also be in this impact zone for heavy rain.

It is also possible that the rain persists and moves into some parts of upstate New York and to the southeast into Virginia and Delaware. With much of this region under some level of a drought designation, the rain will be a welcome relief for brown lawns.

By Sunday, the rain will be limited to isolated areas of the Northeast and Ohio Valley. However, you can expect the rain to persist in the higher terrains of West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

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