Torrential rains flood Union County area
Some sunshine and dry weather were welcomed on Sunday after torrential rainfall fell on Saturday in Union County.
The deluge led to road damages throughout the county.
Saturday’s downpours followed several days of heavy rain in the area.
More Rain Possible
The National Weather Service office in Paducah reported Tuesday morning on its website that “another rain event is coming for the middle of this week for the region.”
The rain was expected to begin Tuesday night and come to an end on Thursday, today.
The forecast called for about a half an inch of rain in Southern Illinois.
“Locally higher amounts in thunderstorms, which (were) forecast for Wednesday night in the northern half of the region, could cause rainfall totals to reach into the 1 to 2 inch range by the end of the day Thursday,” the weather service advised.
“This amount of rainfall would not normally cause many issues,” the weather service stated.
“However, given the still wet ground conditions from last week’s rains, and the forecasted crests of river stages, you should monitor local water conditions closely as this next rain occurs.
“Low lands and poorer drainage areas may flood more quickly than usual. This may cause ponding or flooding of water overtop back country roads, especially ones near creeks and streams that may swell more quickly than usual.”
Multiple Waves of Precipitation
The weather service reported that multiple waves of precipitation moved through the region from the evening of Feb. 20 through the morning of Feb. 24.
A warm front lifted across the region on Saturday afternoon, with showers and thunderstorms forming along it, followed by a cold front that quickly moved through during the late afternoon and evening hours.
Severe thunderstorms accompanied this system with damaging winds and a few tornadoes, including two EF-2 tornadoes that occurred in the Hopkinsville, Ky., and Matthews, Mo., areas.
The weather service noted that as of early this week, damage surveys were ongoing.
Widespread flooding was reported across the area due to 5 to 8 inches of rain falling over a four- to five-day period.
Flash flood warnings were in effect for the vast majority of the region, including Union County, late Saturday afternoon and evening.
Rainfall amounts for the period of Feb. 20-25 in the region recorded by the weather service included 5.3 inches in the Carbondale area, 5.21 inches in Mt. Vernon, 8.23 inches in Williamson County, 5.97 inches in Paducah and 7.46 inches in the Cape Girardeau area.
In Cobden, an unofficial measure showed that nearly 8 1/2 inches of rain had fallen from Thursday through Saturday night.
Damage to Roads
Union County engineer Kevin Grammer said that the heavy rain caused widespread damage to roads and culverts.
Union County Highway Department crews started to do clean up and repair work on Saturday night. The work continued Sunday and Monday. Grammer said he expected that the work would continue throughout this week.
Even before the past week’s heavy rainfall, Grammer had voiced concerns about the county’s roads.
At a regular meeting of the Union County Board of Commissioners which was held last Friday morning in Jonesboro, Grammer said that some local roads were in “terrible” shape.
Roads had been hit hard by winter precipitation, freezing and thawing.
In some situations, roads are becoming impassable. Attempts to repair roads, at least in some cases, could only lead to more damage.
A community member also voiced concerns about the roads at a special meeting of the county board which was held Monday at the courthouse.
Board of commissioners chairman Bobby Toler Jr. said the county would respond as quickly as it could to fix the roads.
River Flood Warnings
Even as the rain came to an end, flood warnings had been issued for a number of rivers in the region.
The flood warnings covered the Mississippi, Big Muddy and Ohio rivers.
Union County is bordered on the west by the Mississippi River. Part of northwestern Union County is bordered by the Big Muddy River.
The National Weather Service reported on its website early Monday afternoon that minor to major flooding was occurring along the lower Ohio River.
“Major flood conditions are occurring at the Grand Chain Dam and will develop at Shawneetown Friday and Cairo tomorrow evening,” the weather service reported at 12:52 p.m. Monday.
The Ohio River’s stage at noon Monday was 52.3 feet. Flood stage is 40.0 feet.
Major flooding was expected to develop Tuesday afternoon at Cairo. As of Monday, the Ohio River is forecast to crest at 53.5 feet on Saturday morning.
The weather service reported that water levels continued to slowly rise along portions of the Mississippi River as of early this week.
A flood warning is forecast to continue through Friday afternoon for the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau.
At noon Monday, the Mississippi River’s stage at Cape Girardeau was 32.2 feet. Flood stage is 32.0 feet. Minor flooding was occurring and was expected to continue.
As of Monday, the river was expected to crest at near 32.5 feet Wednesday evening.
The weather service noted that the Mississippi River backs into several creeks, which produces flooding.
A flood warning also continued for the Big Muddy River in Southern Illinois.
At 9 a.m. Monday, the Big Muddy River’s stage at Murphysboro was 26.1 feet. Flood stage is 22.0 feet. Minor flooding was occurring. Moderate flooding was in the forecast.
As of Monday, the Big Muddy River was expected to crest at near 30.2 feet on Tuesday morning. The river is forecast to fall below flood stage by Sunday.
Stormy weather which began late Saturday afternoon continued into the evening and early night time hours in Union County.
The storms brought lightning, thunder and multiple rounds of torrential rainfall which turned some of the county’s roads and highways into veritable rivers and made travel very treacherous.
The stormy weather also knocked out electrical service to many customers in the Union County area last Saturday evening.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office posted a message on Facebook Saturday which urged people to stay home.
“Our office has been receiving multiple calls of several flooded roads in Union County,” the sheriff’s office shared.
“Please, unless you have to be on the road, please stay at home if it is safe for you to do so.
“Also, we are aware that the power is out all over the County. We can assure you that Ameren and Southern Illinois Co-op have been notified that there is a power outage.
“Please, only call our office if you have an emergency. Our staff is being overloaded by calls asking when the power will be restored. Unfortunately, we do not know when it will be restored.”
Union County was under a flash flood warning Saturday evening. The warning was issued by the National Weather Service office in Paducah and included much of the region.
The flash flood warning was in effect through 9 p.m. Saturday. Thunderstorms trained across Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois Saturday afternoon and evening.
Union County also was included in an area which was under a tornado watch until 9 p.m. Saturday.