US: Adverse weather forecast across the Central, South, and Southwest regions through at least July 30 /update 2

Event

Rounds of heavy rainfall accompanied by possible thunderstorms are forecast across parts of the Central, South, and Southwest regions through at least July 30. Heavy downpours with potentially significant flash flooding are forecast across the Ohio Valley and Central Appalachians over the coming days. The monsoonal rains are likely to result in daily rounds of excessive rainfall and flash flooding across portions of the Southwest as well as southern and central High Plains over the same period. Sustained heavy rainfall may result in floods and flash floods, especially over low-lying areas or areas close to water bodies.

Extensive flooding in the St. Louis region, Missouri, since early July 26 resulted in one fatality at Skinker Boulevard and Enright Avenue, near the Delmar Loop, July 26 and another fatality in Ford Lane near Coldwater Creek in Hazelwood early July 27. Authorities in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Jefferson City, East St. Louis, and Saint Charles County declared local states of emergency July 26-27 and state officials declared a state of emergency for Missouri July 26. Reports indicate power outages affecting more than 20,000 customers early July 26; crews have since restored most power. Portions of Interstates 64, 70, and 210 as well as US Route 61 were temporarily closed due to flooding. As of July 28, some neighborhoods in the Metro East, including Caseyville, Cahokia Heights, and Logan’s in East St. Louis remained flooded.

Authorities in Flagstaff, Arizona declared a state of emergency early July 27 due to post-wildfire flooding around the Pipeline Fire burn area. The City of Flagstaff also issued shelter-in-place orders for neighborhoods in the Museum Fire flood area July 27 due to likely flash flooding. The Schultz Creek watershed overflowed the afternoon of July 27, temporarily closing US 180 in both directions from Rim Drive north to the Coyote Springs neighborhood; the road has since reopened. Reports also indicate flash flooding in much of northern Arizona.

Heavy rainfall overnight July 27-28 triggered severe flooding and associated disruptions in parts of eastern Kentucky. Over 23,000 customers were without power as of early July 28. Multiple roadways in the region have been made impassable due to floodwaters and residents in some areas were urged to move to higher ground. Authorities in Floyd County declared a local state of emergency late July 27.

Government Advisers
As of July 28, the National Weather Service (NWS) has issued flash flood and flood warnings for parts of eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia, and southern West Virginia. Flood and flash flood watches and advisories have been issued across most of Arizona, southern and central Colorado, central Kansas, most of Kentucky, northern and central New Mexico, far southern Ohio, southern Utah, southwestern Virginia, and most of West Virginia.

The Weather Prediction Center (WPC) has issued a “Moderate Risk” (Level 3 on a four-tier scale) of excessive rainfall for much of Kentucky and western West Virginia through early July 29 and for eastern Kentucky and western and central West Virginia July 29-30. There is also a “moderate Risk” of excessive rainfall for south-central to southern Colorado, northern New Mexico, far northwestern Oklahoma, and far northwestern Texas July 28-29 and for southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, and much of the Oklahoma panhandle July 29-30. There is a “Slight Risk” (Level 2) of excessive rainfall across much of the rest of the affected area through at least July 30. Officials could update and possibly extend the coverage of weather alerts over the coming days.

Hazardous Conditions
Sustained heavy rainfall could trigger flooding in low-lying communities near rivers, streams, and creeks. Urban flooding is also possible in developed areas with easily overwhelmed stormwater drainage systems. Sites located downstream from large reservoirs or rivers may be subject to flash flooding after relatively short periods of intense rainfall. Landslides are possible in hilly or mountainous areas, especially where heavy rainfall has saturated the soil.

Authorities could issue mandatory evacuation orders for flood-prone communities over the coming days and tornado warnings advising the public to shelter in place. Disruptions to electricity and telecommunications services are possible where severe weather impacts utility networks.

Transport
The severe weather will likely contribute to transport disruptions throughout the region. Floodwaters and debris flows may render some bridges, rail networks, or roadways impassable, impacting overland travel in and around affected areas. Ponding on road surfaces could cause hazardous driving conditions on regional highways. Authorities could temporarily close some low-lying routes that become inundated by floodwaters.

Severe weather could also trigger flight delays and cancellations at airports across the affected region. Flooding could block regional rail lines; freight and passenger train delays and cancellations are likely in areas that see heavy rainfall and potential track inundation.

Localized business disruptions may occur in flood- or tornado-hit areas; some businesses might not operate at full capacity because of damage to facilities, possible evacuations, and some employees’ inability to reach work sites.

Advice

Monitor local media for weather updates and related advisories. Confirm all transport reservations and business appointments before travelling. Make allowances for localized travel delays and potential supply chain disruptions where flooding has been forecast. Do not drive on flooded roads. Review contingency plans and be prepared to move quickly to shelter if tornado warnings are issued. Charge battery-powered devices in the case of prolonged electricity outages.

Resources

National Weather Service

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