Southern Counties Experience Flooding With More Rain Likely Through Friday, Next Week
Heavy rains have caused flooding across much of the state’s south, but the danger is far from over.
Counties like Mingo, Logan and Wyoming have received on average three inches of rain since Tuesday, with isolated areas seeing as much as five inches.
July is historically West Virginia’s wettest month and Nick Webb, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Charleston said this one has been wetter than normal.
“You can get these kinds of setups as we head into the summertime, where the front struggles to make much progress and get bouts of heavy rain,” Webb said.
With roads closed by flooding across the region, the full extent of damage will not be known until the waters recede, which may not be until this weekend.
More rain is expected through Friday morning.
“It stands a potential for another two to three inches of rain with isolated higher amounts,” Webb said. “That's a little hard to pinpoint right now, but generally speaking the central and southern parts of the state stand the best chances of seeing heavy rainfall and potential flash flooding.”
Gov. Jim Justice declared a State of Preparedness for all 55 counties Tuesday in anticipation of flooding.
Public Information Officer for the West Virginia Emergency Management Division Lora Lipscomb said the declaration allowed the state emergency operations center to be on an enhanced watch with 24/7 monitoring.
“Assets are pre-positioned at our warehouse facility to meet these requests and our end personnel and our partners are prepared to respond to the state emergency operations center if partial or full activation is needed,” Lipscomb said.
With an area covering the southern width of the state from Mingo County to Greenbrier County already hit by flooding and the potential for broader statewide impact, preparation is important.
Both Webb and Lipscomb advised West Virginians to monitor weather forecasts and gather supplies in the event of road closures.
Lipscomb emphasized the unique dangers floodwaters can present.
“‘Turn Around Don't Drown’ is the best advice I can give you during a flood event,” she said. “When you drive into these floodwaters and a whole fire department has to come and do a swift water rescue, you're not only endangering yourself, you're endangering those first responders. And most people know this, but I'll say it again anyway, almost half of all flood deaths occur in vehicles. And most of those can be prevented.”
Beyond Friday morning, there is a brief chance for the state to dry out before even more rain next week.
“The pattern should be improving as we head into the weekend,” Webb said. “The thinking right now is we can get this south of us later on Friday and get a chance to dry out Saturday, if not most of Sunday before we reintroduce the chance of showers and storms.”
Whatever the weather may bring, Lipscomb says West Virginia’s emergency services are set up to respond.
“We try to look as far into the future as we can to position everything and everyone so that we're ready to respond to our citizens,” Lipscomb said.