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Flooding issues so far are minimal, but threat looms large

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Emergency officials and forecasters across the Mountain State are dealing with a lot of uncertainty about the weather this week. A flood watch has been issued for basically every part of the state south of U.S. Route 50.

Those areas are in the target zone for intense rainfall at any time. Some of those locations have already had a deluge or two and are soaked with streams running full. Any additional rain could create problems rapidly. However, Nick Webb, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston said the big problem is there’s no way to know where that might hit.

“We’ll have rounds of showers and storms mainly affecting the central and southern half of the state. It’s kind of hard to time exactly and precisely which area is going to receive heavy rainfall at any given time. Anybody in the watch area needs to be prepared at anytime for the threat of flash flooding,” he said.

The pattern has been developing since early Tuesday. Already some areas have had to transition from a flood watch to a flood warning. Gilbert Creek in Mingo County had water in several homes on Tuesday. The high water receded later in the day. Similar high water events have happened in other parts of southern West Virginia with a deluge which ends just before any significant flooding happens.

“We have these lines of showers and embedded thunderstorms that train over the same area. That’s the main issue as far as producing flash floods,” Webb explained.

The scenario has left county emergency managers on high alert.

“I hope the three to five inches of rain misses us, but if not, we’re ready to go to the evacuations,” said John McGinnis, Emergency Services Director for Nicholas County.

Kanawha County authorities also prepared as rain peppered the Kanawha Valley. County Emergency Services Manager C.W. Sigman said they were as ready as they could be.

“I wish I knew exactly where it was going to be and when. Luckily we have water rescue teams in the fire departments scattered throughout the county. Now it’s just a situation where they’ve prepped equipment and crews are ready and it’s just a matter of waiting for the call, which we hope does not come,” he said.

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