At least 3 dead in ‘most devastating’ floods in eastern Kentucky

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The storm’s total rainfall in and around Hazard, Kentucky via RadarScope. The red shading shows totals of 8 inches or more in less than 24 hours.

Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky experienced “one of the worst and most devastating flooding events” in its history after heavy rain and flash flooding hit the eastern portion of the state overnight Wednesday through Thursday morning.

The big picture: This is the second deadly extreme precipitation event from the same frontal system that showered the St. Louis metropolitan area with record rainfall Tuesday and also caused flash flooding that killed at least one person.

The newest: At least three people were killed by flooding, two in Perry County and one in Knott County. said Bescher during a press conference around noon Thursday.

  • explained Beshear A state of emergency and activated the Kentucky National Guard, which has mobilized and begun responding to the region.
  • The Kentucky State Police and their Department of Fish and Wildlife are also actively searching for missing persons.
  • Images shared on social media showed houses and streets under water and cars being swept away by flood waters.
  • West Virginia and Tennessee are sending additional planes to Kentucky to support search and rescue efforts, said Maj. Gen. Hal Lamberton of the Kentucky National Guard.

What you say: “Unfortunately, I expect double-digit deaths from these floods,” the governor said.

  • “We’re going to see massive property damage,” the governor said at another press conference early Thursday morning.
  • “We anticipate loss of life. Hundreds will lose their homes and this will be another event where it will likely take years, not months, for many families to rebuild and recover,” he added.

Using the numbers: The city of Hazard, Kentucky, had received an estimated 8.55 inches of rainfall in 12 hours as of 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

  • Alex Lamers, a meteorologist for the NWS, tweeted on Thursday that this amount “is more than twice (!) the average annual probability threshold of 1 in 100 and is even a few centimeters above the 1 in 1000 threshold”.
  • Buckhorn had received 8 inches as of 7 a.m. Thursday, and Oneida was hit at 7.20 inches as of 8 a.m. Thursday.
  • Kentucky’s 24-hour rainfall record is 10.48 inches, which was observed in Louisville in 1997.
  • At least 25,111 homes were without power as of Thursday, according to Beshear.

More heavy rain events are possible by Friday, NOAA warns. Flood warnings and warnings have been extended through Friday for eastern Kentucky as thunderstorms are expected to return overnight with additional precipitation, the authorities said NWS.

  • Most of eastern Kentucky, including the cities of Jackson, London and Lexington, is at moderate risk of excessive overnight rains leading to additional flooding.
  • Extreme precipitation events like this are becoming more frequent and intense due to human-caused global warming.

go deeper: Hundreds of temperature records were broken as a heatwave scorched the US

Axios’ Andrew Freedman contributed to this story.

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