Rivers and Snow Update

Our rivers are running high and muddy this Wednesday evening. Tony has an update.

Rivers and Snow Update

It has been an active weather week across the Central Appalachians with everything from sleet and snow to high water and cold blusters.

For Joe and Jane reading from sunny West Palm, let’s just say you are missing a throwback winter up north!

From the Boney fiddle section of Portsmouth to the Bandstand in Pomeroy and the Big Bend of Mason County, a quick hitting snowfall closed schools and slicked up roads on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, chilly winds from the west belied the 38 degree air that invaded. No doubt about it, Old Man Winter is back in control!

On our rivers, weekend rains and melting snows in the high country sent our rivers rising in a hurry. The Greenbrier and Gauley went into flood in the mountains, while the Elk, New, Coal and Guyandotte Rivers made their murky contribution to the muddy Ohio.

Here at mid-week, the Great Kanawha River is falling steadily as its water is flushed into the Mighty Ohio. In Charleston, Magic Island is a muddy mess this Wednesday eve as the Kanawha’s waters, which had swamped the Isle and partly submerged the Haddad Riverfront amphitheatre, are slowly but steadily dropping.

Winter walleye and white bass fishermen had a hard time holding bottom as the Kanawha rose at the Winfield Locks and Dam. Now they can drop their rigs into the muddy waters with less current though still poor clarity to contend with.

All that water is now passing thru the main stem of the Ohio where thru the Racine, Byrd, Greenup and Mendahl pools, low land high water is common.
Late this Wednesday eve, the Ohio is at crest at Point Pleasant, slightly above the official flood stage at Battle Monument National Park.

That crest will move thru the Byrd pool into the Greenup pool on Thursday passing Gallipolis Ferry, Huntington and Ashland on it was to Portsmouth. If you live in this stretch then, the water is basically as high as it is going to go, with less than 1 foot rise until the crest passes you on Thursday.

Backwater problems will persist until Friday when the river will drop comprehensibly.

As the waters rose on Wednesday, the Gallia Academy football field looked like a lake thanks to back waters from the Chickamauga Creek. See the enclosed e-picture courtesy of the digital lens of Tony Gallagher.

Here’s a neat link from the National Weather Service that highlights water levels and gives a Hydrograph of your favorite river gauge.


I use this site whenever the waters rise in our area.
My colleagues at NWS, who do a great job monitoring our streams, keep the data fresh and stay on top of water levels morning, noon and night while we sleep!

With cold air arriving for the weekend, the rivers will be settling to more typical January levels. Of course, by that time a healthy southern snowstorm will be on our radar. This storm may well bring a foot of snow thru Tennessee into parts of southern Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia.

In this case, Tennessee towns like Knoxville, Nashville and Gatlinburg in the Great Smokies and Asheville, Boone, Raleigh and even Charlotte in the Tar Heel State may get a foot of power outage producing, traffic snarling snow.

Farther north from the Breaks Interstate Park on the Kentucky-Virginia border thru the New River Valley of WV, heavy snows may lay out in excess of 6".

For the I-64 corridor, snows should arrive by Friday evening and continue into Saturday. Early indications point toward a moderate snowfall from Morehead to Huntington to Charleston. That should be enough to shovel, but be WELL UNDER the 6" total for 24 hours that would warrent a Winter Storm Warning from NWS.

This snow will be accompanied by frigid winds, so some blowing snow and icy roads are likely.
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