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Historical Kentucky Flooding

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Shawn Gossman

Staff member
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Metropolis, Illinois
Are any of you impacted by this at all?

Between July 25th and July 30th, 2022, several complexes of training thunderstorms developed south of I-64 and brought heavy rain, deadly flash flooding, and devastating river flooding to eastern Kentucky and central Appalachia. These thunderstorms, at times, caused rainfall rates in excess of 4"/hr across complex terrain that led to widespread devastating impacts. While it did not rain continuously during this 4-day stretch, the overwhelming amounts of rain and resultant flooding led to at least 37 deaths (as of August 2nd) and widespread catastrophic damage. Entire homes and parts of some communities were swept away by flood waters, leading to costly damage to infrastructure in the region. Over 600 helicopter rescues and countless swift water rescues by boat were needed to evacuate people who were trapped by the quickly-rising flood waters. In total, 24 Flash Flood Warnings were issued between July 26th and July 30th. Between the evening of July 27th and the mid-morning hours on July 28th (the peak of the event), 13 warnings were issued, 3 of which were upgraded to a Flash Flood Emergency.
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Climatological Context for This Devastating Flash Flooding Event

  • The rainfall totals observed between these dates across eastern Kentucky were over 600% of normal.
  • While most of the region was drier than normal going into July, this amount of rain in such a short period of time would overwhelm any area, simply due to the very high rainfall rates.
  • NWS Jackson set two records for 24-hour rainfall: July 26th's observation of 2.11" broke the previous record of 1.78" set in 1993, and July 27th's observation of 4.11" broke the previous record of 1.37" set in 2014.
  • A COOP site in Buckhorn Lake (which has records dating back to 1961) measured 8.00" of rain in a 24-hour period, which beat the previous record of 1.80" at that site. That value is also the most rain the site has ever observed. The 4-day total from July 26th to July 29th at Buckhorn was 11.76", also a record for that amount of time.
  • The Carr Creek Lake COOP (which has records dating back to 1981) reported 6.71" in the 24-hour period ending 7 AM on July 29th, after receiving 6.50" in the previous 24-hour period ending on July 28th. The 4-day total from the 25th to 29th was 14.00".
  • The estimated peak rainfall totals of 14-16" from the 26th through 29th are historically unheard of. There is less than a 1 in 1,000 chance of that amount of rain falling in any given year over a 4-day period.