Wave of Flash Floods Hits Cities Across USA

A series of summer storms that began on 26 August brought flash and surface flooding to areas around Cincinnati, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Colorado Springs and Denver in the USA.

Homes were damaged, roads were swamped and in some cases emergency crews were needed to carry out flood rescues. No serious injuries or fatalities were reported. In fact the impact of the floods may seem fairly minor compared to the recent deluge in Louisiana where 13 people died and tens of thousands of homes were damaged. But the recent wave of floods are examples of the types of increased urban flooding that many cities are facing, where localised, intense rain falls in areas that no longer have the ability to absorb rainwater.

Local news station WCPO said described the weekend floods in Cincinnati as:

“Torrents of rain falling from the sky collecting on concrete and asphalt, creating the perfect flash-flood storms.”

Cincinnati

Flooding affected areas of Cincinnati from Sunday 28 August, 2016. Norwood, situated to the north east of Cincinnati, was one of the worst hit areas. Local media reported that St. Bernard and Cincinnati neighbourhoods of Bond Hill, Avondale, Paddock Hills, Oakley and Hyde Park were also affected.

Full damage assessments are yet to be carried out, however it is thought that dozens of homes have been damaged. Some reports said parts of Interstate 71 were under 2 feet (60 cm) of water. Schools have been closed in the area as a result of the floods.

A slow moving storm brought extremely localized heavy rain to some areas, causing the flooding. According to National Weather Service (NWS) in Wilmington, Norwood recorded 4.4 inches (111mm) of rain on 28 August. Yet Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, situated around 13 miles (21 km) to the south west of Norwood, recorded just 0.82 inches.

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Colorado Springs

Heavy rain and hail on Monday 29 August combined to cause surface flooding in Colorado Springs. Roads were quickly swamped and motorists left stranded, with some needing to be rescued by the city’s fire department.

NWS Pueblo issued Flash Flood warnings for Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas during the afternoon of 29 August. NWS reported that 4.11 inches (104mm) of rain was recorded at Peterson, El Paso County, during a 24 hour period between 28 and 29 August, with 2.56 inches (65mm) falling in just a few hours during the afternoon of 29 August.

Heavy rain and hail also flooded streets around the Denver metro area on Tuesday 30 August, according to local media.

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Kansas City

Flooding was reported in the Kansas City area on Friday 26 August. Roads were swamped and vehicles left stranded. Emergency services carried out at least 10 several flood rescues. No injuries or fatalities were reported and the flooding had receded by the next day.

On Friday the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency notice for the Kansas City area for Friday night to Saturday morning.

Rain had been falling in the area since Wednesday. Brookside, Overland Park, Olathe and Grandview all recorded over 7 inches (177mm) of rain during the 3 day period since then.

The rainfall increased in intensity in some areas on Friday. NWS said that Downtown Kansas City recorded 4.56″ (115mm) of rain on 26 August, making it the 11th wettest day since records began and making August 2016 the 7th wettest August on record for the city.

The heaviest of the rainfall was localised and fell mostly in the Downtown area. Lee’s Summit, a city just 16 miles (25 km) to the south, recorded just 0.59 inches (14mm) on Friday 26 August.

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Indianapolis

Friday 26 August also saw flooding in Indianapolis after a storm brought heavy rain and flooding, downed trees and caused power outages.

Flash flood warnings were issued for the Indianapolis areas for 26 to 27 August.

NWS said that 2.40 inches (60mm) of rain fell in Indianapolis during the storm. Streets were flooded and cars were left stranded in roads. Indianapolis Fire Department received 25 calls for high water rescues during a few hours on Friday. No injuries of fatalities were reported.

Flood warnings continued for other areas of the state over the following 48 hours. The City of Muncie recorded around 4 inches of rain on Sunday, 28 August, causing surface flooding.

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Featured image: File photos of flooded cars Photo: U.S. Geological Survey

Flood Summary

Last updated: September 2, 2016
Event
Cincinnati, August 2016
Date
August 28 to August 29, 2016
Type
Flash flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall

Locations

Norwood

Magnitude

Rainfall level
111 mm in 24 hours
Norwood - August 28 to August 29, 2016

Flood Summary

Last updated: September 2, 2016
Event
Colorado Springs, August 2016
Date
August 29 to August 30, 2016
Type
Flash flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall

Locations

Colorado Springs

Magnitude

Rainfall level
104 mm in 24 hours
Peterson - August 28 to August 29, 2016

Flood Summary

Last updated: September 2, 2016
Event
Kansas City, August 2016
Date
August 26 to August 27, 2016
Type
Flash flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall

Locations

Kansas City

Magnitude

Rainfall level
115 mm in 24 hours
Kansas City - August 26 to August 26, 2016

Flood Summary

Last updated: September 5, 2016
Event
Indianapolis, August 2016
Date
August 26 to August 27, 2016
Type
Flash flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall

Locations

Indianapolis

Magnitude

Rainfall level
60 mm in 24 hours
Indianapolis - August 26 to August 27, 2016