CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After a weekend of heavy rain, the Ohio River was rising Monday and emergency officials in the Northern Panhandle were calling the time period into Wednesday “critical” with moderate flooding possible at Wheeling and Moundsville.
“We’ve got several fairly large streams that empty into the river,” said Tom Hart, director of the Marshall County Office of Emergency Management.
“With the high levels right now, they’re not going to be able to empty out once the river starts coming up and we anticipate it’s going to be coming up rapidly.”
On Monday morning, the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon were pushing out of West Virginia and into New England.
The National Weather Service provided the following storm totals for a 72-hour period:
— Brooke County
Bethany 5.05 in.
Wellsburg 4.95 in.
Follansbee 4.30 in.
— Hancock County
Stratton 4.7 in.
Weirton 4.3 in.
— Marshall County
Cameron 4.79 in.
— Monongalia County
Lake Lynn 4.30 in.
— Ohio County
Valley Grove 4.98 in.
Wheeling 4.15 in.
— Preston County
Terra Alta 5.49 in.
Cheat Lake 5.36 in.
— Wetzel County
Burton 5.66 in.
The full rain total list for northern West Virginia is HERE.
After the rain, forecasts for the Ohio River were calling for crest levels near “major” flood stage by Tuesday morning in parts of Ohio County and Marshall County.
In Moundsville, Flood Stage for the Ohio River is 37 feet. By Tuesday morning, forecasters were projecting the river could crest at 43.6 feet, considered just under “major” flood stage.
“We could see some issues along some of the riverfront communities,” Hart said on Monday morning. “If we do reach 43.6 or somewhere close to that, it’ll be the highest that we’ve seen the Ohio River since January of 2005.”
At 42 feet, water begins to affect Monarch Stadium and the Marshall County Fairgrounds.
Levels in Wheeling, Hart said, would determine flooding in both Benwood and McMechen.
Flood stage for the Ohio River at Wheeling is 36 feet. The forecast called for river levels to reach 41.9 feet by Tuesday, the high end of what is considered “moderate” flooding.
At 42 feet in Wheeling, flooding reaches the intersection of 39th and McColloch Streets and the intersection of Georgia and North Front Streets.
It could be Wednesday morning before the Flood Warnings are lifted in Moundsville and Wheeling.
On Monday, Hart was advising residents to take precautionary steps.
In Brooke County, the Ohio River at Wellsburg was expected to top out at 38.7 feet on Tuesday morning, more than two feet above Flood Stage.
The Ohio River could potentially flood as far south as Point Pleasant, according to the latest forecast from the National Weather Service available on Monday morning.
A Flood Warning was posted for northwestern Pleasants County and western Tyler County until at least Monday afternoon.
At 9 a.m. Monday, the National Weather Service was reporting that Middle Island Creek and Duck Creek were above flood stage and expected to recede later in the day.
Across the Eastern Panhandle, rounds of moderate to heavy rain were expected to continue through Monday putting down an additional .5 inch to 1 inch of rain.
Flood Warnings were still posted on Monday morning for Jefferson County, Morgan County and Berkeley County.
It could be Wednesday evening before a Flood Warning is lifted for the Potomac River at Shepherdstown which was expected to crest more than five feet above Flood Stage, reaching 20.5 feet potentially, by late Monday.
Opequon Creek near Martinsburg was already above Flood Stage on Monday morning en route to 13.1 feet, which is considered moderate flooding.
Backwater flooding was being reported on small tributaries like Tuscarora Creek.
The Cacapon River near Great Cacapon in Morgan County was expected to crest right around Flood Stage by Monday morning.
Because of the effects of high water, including some road damage and closures, public schools were closed Monday in Hancock County, Brooke County and Marshall County. There were school delays in three counties: Berkeley, Morgan and Preston.
Later this week and into the next weekend, the system named Florence could be bringing additional heavy rain to West Virginia depending on the path of the storm that was expected to strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane before landfall, possibly in the Carolinas.