USA – 6 Dead as Flooding in Central and Southern States Worsens

Flooding and severe weather has affected southern and central USA since 17 February, 2018 when rivers overflowed in parts of West Virginia and Ohio.

Further heavy rain last week increased river levels further in the Midwest, affecting Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as parts of southern Ontario, Canada.

From 23 February the flooding moved south, with flash flooding reported in Texas and Oklahoma.

More heavy rain and flooding occurred over the weekend, along with storms and strong winds. Flooding has now affected parts of Kentucky and Missouri, as well as wider areas of Illinois and Indiana. All four states have declared a state of emergency.  Flooding has also affected Arkansas, where levels of the Ouachita River are above major flood stage.

Local media now report that at least 6 people have lost their lives as a result of flooding.

The National Weather Service said that “heavy rain that began last week and continued through the weekend has brought widespread flooding to a large swath of the central U.S., from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Numerous river systems will remain in flood stage well into the workweek. Another round of rainfall is forecast across the mid and lower Miss. Valley Tuesday into Wednesday which will exacerbate the ongoing river flood threat.”

As of 25 February, rivers were above flood stage at 315 locations, including 27 above major flood stage and 99 above moderate flood stage.

US rivers at or above flood stage, 25 February 2018. Image: NWS

Flood watches and warnings stretched across multiple Midwest and southern states as of 25 February. The flood situation is likely to continued over the next few days, until 02 March 2018 at least, according to NWS / NOAA.

Flood warnings in central and southern USA, 25 February 2018. Image: NWS Note: the NWS Flood Outlook is intended to provide a general outlook for significant river flooding

The Ohio River in Cincinnati has been above flood stage for several days. It is thought to have crested on Sunday 25 February at 60.53 feet. Levels are expected to fall over the coming days although further heavy rain over the weekend could complicate matters.

The swollen Ohio River in Cincinnati, 25 February, 2018. Photo: 5chw4r7z via Flickr, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Six Fatalities

Flooding last week claimed 3 lives in the USA, one in Illinois, another in Michigan and a third in Oklahoma.

Over the weekend 24 to 25 February, 2 flood-related deaths were reported in Kentucky, in Union and Simpson Counties. A man is thought to have died after being swept away by flood water in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Sunday.

More weather-related deaths have been reported after a tornado in Adairville, Kentucky and strong winds in Arkansas.

States of Emergency

On Friday 23 February, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin declared a statewide emergency in response to continued heavy rainfall events which have caused widespread flooding and damage to critical infrastructure across Kentucky.

Over the last few days, the governors of Missouri, Indiana and Illinois have all declared disaster emergencies.

Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb issued a disaster emergency on 24 February for 11 Indiana counties in response to widespread flooding and infrastructure damage caused by sustained heavy rainfall. The governor signed an executive order to include Carroll, Dearborn, Elkhart, Fulton, Lake, Marshall, Perry, St. Joseph, Starke, Switzerland and White counties.

Also on 24 February, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner issued a state disaster proclamation for Iroquois, Kankakee and Vermilion counties that will ensure state support to communities that are battling floods caused by heavy rains earlier this week.

Governor Rauner toured flooded areas in the City of Watseka Thursday night and met with residents who have been evacuated from their homes.

“I am impressed with the strength of the those who have been forced out of their homes and the volunteers who make sure they have essential needs,” said Gov. Rauner. “We must continue to stand together during times of emergency and provide continued support and assistance as these communities fight the rising floodwaters.”

Governor Eric Greitens signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in anticipation of storms and flooding in parts southern Missouri.

Rivers

  • Ouachita River at Camden, Arkansas – 40.9 feet
  • Ohio River, Cincinnati – 60.3 feet (moderate flood stage)
  • St Josephs River, South Bend, Indiana – 9.7 feet
  • St Josephs River, Elkhart, Indiana – 26.8 feet
  • Ohio River at Cannelton Lock and Dam, Kentucky / Indiana – 50.49 feet

Rainfall

24 hours from 24 to 25 February

  • Cincinnati, Ohio – 61.2 mm
  • Louisville, Kentucky – 77.2 mm
  • Evansville, Indiana – 80.8 mm

24 hours from 25 to 26 February

  • Jackson, Mississippi – 63.5 mm
  • Meridian, Mississippi – 60.7 mm