Rising Rivers a Concern

The second high water crest of the winter is coming this weekend on the Kanawha and Ohio. Tony has the latest and a neat website so you can track the water.

3:50 AM Update

Fascinating annular ring of heavy rain on doppler radar this Saturday AM. Central Boone (Madison-Danville-Foster), NW Putnam (Buffalo-Fraziers Bottom) and Eastern Lincoln (Hamlin to Harts) have been in on a bomerang shaped heavy rain pattern with 2-3 inches.

Likely some flooding in spots with Boone 911 telling me near Foster on Rt 3, high water crossing roads.

Raleigh and Fayette Counties bearing the brunt of the high water.

Eyes are on Eastern Kanawha before 6 AM for possible high water and given the steep terrain, a few rockslides.

12 AM Update

Heavy rains have parked in Central and Southern WV early this Saturday morning prompting Flood Warnings for Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, McDowell, Mingo, Putnam, Roane, Wayne, Wyoming WV and South Central Gallia OH.

What does this mean? For most, its just a rainy night, but if you live along a stream that is prone to flooding, and rains pelt down for several hours, you should monitor water levels on your own and head to high ground if flood waters approach.

Motorists are reminded of the peril in driving thru flood waters at night when vision is poor.

The heaviest rains should ebb by sunrise.

Big Rivers on the Rise

My 5:30 edition story with Tim and Amanda took me down to the banks of the Ohio River for a once a decade sight.

You see the mighty Ohio was on the rise yet we have barely had any rain this week. Still there I was standing about half way down the amphitheatre at Harris Riverfront Park and water had totally submerged the veranda where the Pops are played every summer and was lapping half way up the steps.

While this hardly classifies as a rare event (we get 2 to 5 river surges every year), what makes it so special is the no rain scenario.

Of course as we have been hawking, snow melt from the winter snow pack has been going steadily for a week now in the high country. Given anywhere from 6 to 30 inches of snow were on the ground in the mountains of WV and PA when the month started, it is easy to see how snow melt has created a huge source of water flowing into our mountain streams.

Since those same mountain streams (including the New, Gauley, Upper Elk, Greenbrier, Tygart and Cheat Rivers) are tributaries of either the Kanawha or the Ohio in some fashion, in time all that snow melt water passes thru Charleston on the Great Kanawha or Huntington on the Mighty Ohio.

This Friday night, the mountain snow pack is all but gone (except in the highest elevations), and now heavy rains are set to deliver a new water surge. Most areas will get an inch or 2 of rain tonight into Saturday with localized 3 inch amounts likely in the mountains.

My colleagues from the Weather Service have been all over this and preliminary Flood Watches and Warnings have been issued for 3 days now, even before tonight’s first drops began falling. The Greenbrier Valley in particular is at risk for flooding due to the double whammy of snow melt and rainfall.

Before I get into specific rivers, I must add this disclaimer. Tonight and Saturday’s rains have yet to fall. Since these rains will fall unevenly over THOUSANDS OF SQUARE MILES between Pittsburgh, Elkins, Lewisburg, Haysi Va, Pikeville, Portsmouth and Huntington-Parkersburg, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ACCURATELY FORECAST CREST STAGES THIS EARLY.

Tonight I am interpretting the hydrographs from the neat NWS website I refer to frequently in my blog; namely,


Using Charleston as a focus, the green line rises steadily thru Sunday and reaches a crest at the 24’ stage line on Sunday night. So the PRELIMINARY CREST FORECAST is for the Kanawha to reach this 24’ stage at the South Side Bridge where flood stage is 30’, a full 6 feet below flood stage.

My experience is this puts water onto the front steps of Haddad Riverfront Park completely covering the Live on the Levee concert area. Magic Island becomes Magic Lake with the volleyball courts turning into soggy quagmires as water stands a foot deep.

Backwater problems will abound on small feeder tributaries into the Kanawha like behind the South Charleston Rec Center (where the hardwood basketball floor will need to be removed just in case).

Along the entire 981 mile wind of Ohio River basically flood stages will be approached or exceeded. Take Portsmouth where the mayor sent us a press release stating flood walls on the west side at Madison Avenue would be raised this weekend in anticipation of a near flood state crest early next week.

Interests along the Ohio and Kanawha, use this blanket statement for the weekend.

“The crest by late Sunday and Monday are expected to be higher than those experienced in late January. How much higher can not be stated with any precision until we see how much rain falls tonight into Saturday morning”.

Special thanks to the hydrologists and meteorologists at the NWS for sharing their expertise on our rivers.
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