Watching the Mighty Ohio

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Watching the Ohio River

There is a very good reason the Ohio River has gained a “mighty” reputation through the years; namely, the winter-spring summer rain pattern can send the river raging into a frenzy. The mother of all floods back in January 1937 prompted the Army Corps to construct flood walls and flood control dams to help mitigate new high water.

Early this second week of February, the Ohio is slowly building on its notorious reputation. Here’s why!

Last week’s rains culminated with a significant near or below flood stage crest along its 981-mile trek from Old Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh at it source to Cairo, Illinois, at its mouth where it meets the Mississippi River.

Since Sunday, the mother river has been on a downward trend after the dry Saturday and only marginally wet Sunday night and Monday. Now however, computer models are suggesting another healthy rain is heading into the Ohio Valley. Fortunately for our local cities, the heaviest rains look to fall downstream in Southwestern and Central Ohio and Northern and Western Kentucky. With our region likely to get a one half to one and a half inch soaking on Tuesday (again the heavier rains to fall west toward Vanceburg and Portsmouth, and lighter toward Charleston and Logan), another rise on the river is likely.

Backwater problems on feeder streams into the Ohio will be felt thru this weekend with hydrographs from the National Weather Service pointing toward a near flood stage crest from Parkersburg downstream past Huntington-Ashland-Ironton to South Shore-Portsmouth starting Wednesday in the Racine and Belleville pools, then working down past the Byrd and Greenup pools on Thursday and finally the Meldahl pool by Friday.

Once again southern rivers including the Great Kanawha, New and Big Sandy (Levisa, Tug and Russell Forks) will get less rain so rises will be comparably less, though the early forecast on the Kanawha is for a late week rise to close to the Schoenbaum stage in Charleston but below Magic Island.

Interests along the Ohio should keep up with late data from the National Weather Service using this website.

In relation to last winter’s feared crest, the waters this time are expected to be 2 to 5 feet lower but with the important caveat; namely, until the last drop of rain falls only a FORECASTED CREST can be given.

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