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Watching Rivers and Streams Again

More heavy rain is in the forecast on Wednesday. Tony says this next round of rain is likely to produce more high water.

New High Water Threat Looms

It has often been said in my 21 years at WSAZ, “if you guys would stop giving umbrellas away in May, maybe it would stop raining”! Good point except the fact is we give away umbrellas partly because May is often one of the wettest months of the year (and yes, full disclosure, partly to drive viewership). Sure April gets all the plaudits and accolades, but April Showers turn into May Monsoons, or so it seems!

Now this Tuesday evening, we are tracking another heavy rain event due in town on Wednesday. What concerns me about this event is that from Charleston (where I am working out of our Virginia Street studio tonight) southward, the ground has not dried out yet. Here, an afternoon soaking rain added another half inch of rain to the saturated ground. Water is standing in many yards and rivers like the Elk and Coal are a muddy mess.

Walter Coleman of South Charleston says he has already dumped 4 inches of water from his rain gauge this month. Needless to say the ping of the aluminum bat has not been heard at Little Creek Park, in Walt’s neighborhood, this week.

The Kanawha River too is running high and fast with water just a few feet below the Levee and Magic Island. Had there been a concert at Haddad tonight, the stage would have been sitting just 3 feet above the river.

On the Ohio River, water is 10 steps up at the Riverfront Park amphitheatre in Huntington or roughly half way up to the top wall.

As this next heavy rain event unfolds, I expect stout rises on many rivers and where the axis of heaviest rain sets up, I would expect a major rise in water levels. There is a chance the mighty Ohio could be near flood stage by week’s end somewhere in the Point Pleasant to Portsmouth stretch.

Here’s a neat link for river watchers who are keen on following river data. Just point and click on your favorite river gauge and walla, you have neat hydrograph.

My colleagues at the National Weather Service too are concerned about the next rain. They have issued a Flood Watch for Wednesday, with the afternoon and night time hours the most likely time for new flooding.

During a flood watch, no need to be overly concerned, just informed. If and when heavy rains develop, monitor water levels frequently if you live in a flood prone zone. If water levels rise, it is up to you to get to high ground.

On a separate not, you have often heard me use the rainfall in May as a barometer of the weather in the summer. When drought looms in May, as it did in 2007, the forecast is for a blazing hot summer. Works all the time!

On the flip side, when May is wetter than normal, the summer heat will get off to a slow start. Wet Mays are often followed by humid summers with even more rain as the wet ground breeds afternoon clouds which act to both produce new rains (a positive feedback) and keep temperatures cooler.

Clearly then with the likelihood that May will be wetter than normal, the summer should get off to a slow start heat-wise, despite the rare April 3 day hot spell we went thru.
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