Whitesburg KY

Weather outlook calls for flooding

Unseasonably warm weather could lead to heavy rain, thunderstorms, and flooding in Letcher County over the next few days, according to a Hazardous Weather Outlook issued by the National Weather Service in Jackson.

The state Division of Emergency has sent out a bulletin to emergency management directors in the region as a precaution. Tornadic activity and heavy snow could hit some parts of the state, but so far neither has been forecast for here, County Emergency Management Director Paul Miles said.

The unusual spell of warm weathedr comes less than three weeks after an estimated 30 tornadoes hit western Kentucky, causing widespread damage and leaving 77 people dead. Meteorologists say the brutal outbreak of tornadoes was the result of a cold front colliding with an exceptionally warm air mass hanging over western Kentucky.

One tornado, which has been preliminarily classed as an EF4 with 190 miles per hour winds, flattened the town of Mayfield and stayed on the ground for more than 200 miles.

The main risk here appears to be flooding. According to a study released recently by a nonprofit called the First Street Foundation, 59 percent of the homes in Letcher County are at extreme risk of flooding. The group defines extreme risk as having a greater than 26 percent risk of flooding in the next 30 years.

Though it is stated differently, this is the same figure used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey to denote areas where building should not occur. That area is known on flood maps as the 100- year flood plain, meaning an area that has a 1 percent chance in any given year of suffering flooding of that magnitude. First Street’s estimate of the number of properties in danger is more than five times that of FEMA.

According to the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Jackson, temperatures here will be in the 50s at night and the mid- 60s during the day for most of the week. Temperatures are forecast to remain in the mid- to upper 60s through the end of next week.

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