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Heavy Rains Prompt Flood Alerts

A flood watch has been posted for the Louisville area, as heavy rain is expected to continue through tomorrow morning.

The National Weather Service says local rainfall amounts could exceed two inches, with higher amounts to the north, where flood warnings are in effect for about a dozen counties in southern and central Indiana.

Motorists are advised to avoid driving their vehicles in areas where water covers the roadway.

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Flooding Possible Amid More Rain

The National Weather Service in Louisville says additional rain predicted for this week could cause additional flooding.

Erin Rau with the National Weather Service says up to two inches of rain could fall today and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday) and that could exacerbate conditions in flood-prone areas that are not near the Ohio River.

“We actually have another wave that’s gonna enhance precipitation later this afternoon and then into tonight,” Rau says “so areas that have saturated grounds are prone to flooding to there is a possibility that there could be some additional flooding of roads with this next wave.”

Even with the rains, the river is expected to continue receding.

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Derby Festival Counting on Good Weather, Crowds This Weekend

Officials with the Kentucky Derby Festival say clear skies Firday and Saturday should help make up for several says of rain and floods.

High waters have already forced relocations for several festival events. Spokesperson Mark Shallcross says fortunately, the Ohio River is receding now, as the busiest week of the festival begins.

“The weather’s not predicted to be bad this weekend, because this is one of our key weekends with the mini and the marathon and the balloon events. We’re just trying to stay positive,” he says. “We think people have sort of cabin fever after all this rain and cloudiness and flooding.”

Rain is expected on Sunday. Shallcross says the effect of rain on attendance to events over the last week hasn’t yet been calculated.

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River Likely to Top 33 Feet Friday

Heavy rain tomorrow is expected to exacerbate flooding in Louisville, but the full effects won’t be seen until later in the week.

National Weather Service hydrologist Mike Callahan says rain will fall off and on tonight  and pickup tomorrow shortly after sunrise. It will continue throughout the day, bringing enough water to raise the Ohio River to 33 and a half a feet, more than ten feet above flood stage. But, Callahan says the rise will happen slowly and likely peak Friday.

“Actually, the river might drop a little bit between now and then. Just an inch or two,” he says. “That heavy rain is going to push it to 33. Right now the river is running about 30 feet.”

Callahan says the river will recede very slowly. Flooding is worse downstream of Louisville.

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Ohio River Reaches Flood Stage

The Ohio River has officially reached minor flood stage.

At about 11 PM Wednesday night the river surpassed the official flood stage of 23 feet, and was running Thursday morning  at about 24.7 feet, almost two feet above flood stage.

The river is expected to exceed 28 feet this weekend, but the National Weather Service says they are still trying to get a handle on the amount of rain that fell upstream.

Mike Callahan with the National Weather Service says he was surprised by the amount of rain that fell in Louisville Wednesday afternoon, which is the main cause for the current flooding.

“When you get heavy rain locally, you’ll get a fast rise and a quick crest but it won’t be prolonged,” Callahan says “when you get the heavy rain upstream especially if it crosses most of the basin then you’ll get a prolonged rise but it’ll go higher.”

MSD Director Bud Schardein says standard flood procedures are working properly today. “We close off all the underground pipes that drain to the river so that water can’t back into the city” he says, “we close streets as the water rises at elevation, and we turn flood pumping plants on to pump whatever rainfall in the city falls, over the floodwall and into the river.”

9 of 16 floodwater pumping stations have been activated and it is estimated that 3 or 4 more pumping stations will be activated over the weekend. Some sections of River Road have been closed due to the flooding.

The National Weather Service says they are still analyzing data from the rain upstream to determine the full effects.

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Most Severe Weather To Stay North Of Louisville

by Sheila Ash

The large winter storm crossing the country this week is expected to bring strong winds, rain and light snow to Louisville.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Brian Schoettmer says Louisville and southern Indiana will see rain for most of Tuesday. The storm could bring about an inch of snow to the area, but Schoettmer says the wind is the biggest threat.

“…25, 35 mile an hour gusts into 45 mile an hour at times so any snow that is going to be blowing around through the overnight hours and by dawn will be blowing around could reduce visibilities,” he says.

Schoettmer says the temperatures will drop overnight and wind chills could be 10 degrees or lower by morning.

The weather will be more severe further north, with freezing rain expected for Salem and Scottsburg, Indiana.

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Some Parts of Kentucky See Near-Record Rains for May

by Stephanie Crosby

Heavy rains over Derby weekend prompted flooding in many parts of the state, and could lead to the wettest May on record in some parts of Kentucky.

Tom Reaugh with the National Weather Service says areas like Bowling Green and Frankfort have already reached their second-highest rainfall for the month.

“Right now, Bowling Green has about an inch and a half to go to get to number one,” says Reaugh. “They would have to have some pretty good thunderstorm activity in order to make that, but it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility.”

In Louisville, Reaugh says they’ve recorded just over eight inches of rain for the month, making it the tenth-wettest May on record. The record was set in 1990, at just over 11-and-a-half inches.

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Flooding Puts Army Corps of Engineers on Alert

The Louisville district of the US Army Corps of Engineers is keeping an eye on recent flooding. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Louisville district covers Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio and Illinois. As of Tuesday afternoon, no states or communities had requested major assistance.

Spokesperson Ron Elliott says that the corps is ready should any community need help.

“We have two major flood teams that are just standing by,” Elliott says. “Our emergency operations is actively engaged and basically at the request of the state or the local government we would jump in to assist.”

On Tuesday, the US Army Corps of Engineers received a request for 1,000 sandbags from the Jefferson County Public School district.

Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer Distinct would decide if the flooding warranted the corps to activate the local levee system.

Elliot says the flooding in the region hasn’t been too severe.

“Right now, there’s no major cause for concern for Indianapolis all the way down, but we put in the order for the emergency sandbags and our flood fighting teams are standing by should we need to be activated in assisting the local communities for that,” he says.

In the event of flooding, the US Corps of Engineers activates local levee systems at the request of local communities or states.

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Unusually High Rainfall Totals Could Prevent Drought

For the month of June, the Louisville-area has tallied almost three times more rain than average.

National Weather Service meteorologist Don Kirkpatrick says so far this month, Louisville has received more than seven-and-a-half inches of rain, well above the average of two-point-seven inches.

Kirkpatrick says the extra precipitation is helpful.

“It bodes well for us to be getting a lot of rainfall in the spring and early summer because as we go into the summer and into the fall each month gets progressively drier,” he says.

But, Kirkpatrick says, the extra rain doesn’t completely safeguard the area from drought later this year.

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Moderate Drought Coming for Louisville, Lexington Areas

Louisville is on the verge of a moderate drought. Keys Arnold with the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Weather Center says the area is already in a mild drought.

“Rainwise, it’s been incredibly dry. We’ve actually had a significantly drier year than last year, when at this time we were approaching extreme drought,” says Arnold. “The reason the conditions aren’t as bad this year is that we started off with a wet spring.”

Arnold says 2008 has been Louisville third driest summer on record… it’s the 12th driest in central Kentucky. Rainfall totals for the year are nearly five inches below normal.

This year’s drought hasn’t affected crops as dramatically as last year, because it’s coming at harvest-time, instead of the beginning of growing season.