More heavy rain was expected on Tuesday morning across a large portion of Kentucky, potentially complicating efforts to rescue hundreds of people still unaccounted for days after severe flooding left at least 37 dead.
Flood watches were in effect until 9 a.m. Tuesday across an area of eastern Kentucky where hundreds of thousands of people live, as well as until 8 a.m. for a region of West Virginia that includes Charleston, the state capital. Flood watches for Cincinnati and other parts of southern Ohio were set to expire by 4 a.m.
A thunderstorm moving southeast through western Kentucky late Monday had already produced 60-mile-an-hour wind gusts and hailstones the size of silver dollars, a National Weather Service office in Paducah said in an advisory.
The Weather Service predicted more heavy rain and high winds overnight as a cold front moved southeast toward the Central Appalachians from the Ohio Valley. It also warned that excessive runoff in places that had already seen recent heavy rainfall could potentially produce more “life-threatening flash flooding.”
“Not what we want to see!” Chris Bailey, a veteran meteorologist in Lexington, Ky., said of the forecast on Twitter. He warned that new precipitation could create “additional flooding issues” as storms moved from western to eastern Kentucky overnight.
The prospect of more floods would be the central concern overnight in eastern Kentucky, the part of the state hit hardest by last week’s flooding, Gov. Andy Beshear said in a Twitter thread late Monday.
That flooding, some of the worst in the state’s history, left at least 37 people dead, Mr. Beshear announced. He also said at a news briefing that there were “hundreds of unaccounted-for people, minimum,” and that rescue operations had been hampered by impassable roads and washed-out bridges.
As rainstorms blew through eastern Kentucky’s remote hills and valleys on Monday, rescue workers were still trying to move through areas where the floods, and the mudslides they unleashed, had destroyed infrastructure and cut off cellphone service.
More than 10,000 Kentucky households were still without power as of early Tuesday morning, according to the site poweroutage.us. And in some places, floodwaters had once again swallowed roads that had reopened to let emergency workers through after the initial flooding last week.
While linking climate change to a single flood event requires extensive analysis, most scientists agree that climate change is causing heavier rainfall in many storms.