In May 7 IssueBy John ThompsonNews-Register Reporter
If April showers bring May flowers, what does April deluges bring? At least one thing is certain, it has brought what will likely be a record amount of rainfall in the state since records have been kept, according to the National Weather Service.
Though Russell County has seen more rainfall in April than we have in many years, the distribution of the rain throughout the month has caused minimal damage. "We've had a few trees go down because of the wet ground," said Emergency Manager H.M. Bottom, "We've had some tiles get washed out, but I've not heard of too many basements getting flooded."
According to Bottom, Russell County received 10.36 inches of rainfall for April and has received 1.93 inches so far for May.
A preliminary estimate for total rainfall in the state is between 11 and 13 inches according to charts provided by the National Weather Service, with some sectors not yet verified. The average rainfall for the state of Kentucky is 4.5 inches for the month of April.
Bottom said that through the month a few roads have had to be closed temporarily as water levels rose, covering the roads. Short sections on Mt. Eden, Half Acre, and Old Sano will often become impassible with very high levels of precipitation, but received no major damage and were quickly opened after water receded.
The water level in Lake Cumberland is currently at 725 ft., well above the desired maintenance level of 680 ft., but also well below the 760 ft flood stage level as reported on the National Weather Service website.
"Up to this point we've been preserving the water in Lake Cumberland," said Deputy Chief of Public Affairs at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Lee Roberts, "We have to be careful not to add to the situation further downstream." As the water levels have stabilized downstream the Wolf Creek Dam opened one hydropower unit yesterday at noon and another at midnight and are expected to run open all day Wednesday. "As the crest moves further down the Ohio and Mississippi we'll be managing more releases of the water." Roberts said.
Kentucky has had an inordinate number of tornadoes in April. According to the National Weather Service data out of Louisville, 37 tornadoes occurred in the areas of southern Indiana and central Kentucky, the services area of responsibility.
The previous record was 21 set in 1974. The previous annual record for tornadoes was a total of 30 in 2008, and the agency has recorded 44 so far in 2011.
The April 19-20 outbreak of tornadoes spawned a total of 23 for the area, beating the old record of 21 on April 3, 1974, but much like the rain impact has been minimal though record setting, the 1974 outbreak of tornadoes was much more damaging.
On April 25, 2011, Governor Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency due to flooding from the weekend storms.
A year ago, on May 1 and 2, the rainfall in the region caused massive flooding in Tennessee, putting much of Nashville under water and killing 21 in Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.