Ohio River nears flood stage in Ashland, more rain expected

December 25, 2018

HUNTINGTON — The Ohio River in Ashland reached flood stage before cresting early Monday, leading emergency officials to restrict access around the Ashland Riverfront Park and install floodgates on two streets in Catlettsburg.

The risk for minor flooding has now receded, but meteorologists with the National Weather Service are expecting heavy rainfall from Thursday night to Friday night, bringing the potential for more high water along the river.

Water was measured at 52.2 feet in Ashland on Sunday, just barely reaching the 52-feet threshold for minor flooding in that area.

This led to the potential for some “backwater flooding” along some streets near the Ohio River, said meteorologist Maura Casey, with the National Weather Service in Charleston.

“That essentially means there’s so much water, the high river starts backing up the local drainage, such as the local creeks and streams,” she said.

The Boyd County Office of Emergency Management reported restrictions around the Ashland Riverfront Park for public safety and detours in Catlettsburg, where flood gates were installed along 20th Street and Center Street. The restriction and detours will remain in place for several more days this week until waters have further receded.

The potential for flooding varies for different points along the river, Casey said. In Huntington, the river was measured at 48.54 feet before cresting early Monday, which was about one-and-a-half feet from flood stage.

Casey said 2018 has been exceptionally wet with instances of high water and backwater flooding reported “all year, essentially.” The final days of the year will be no expectation, she said.

Temperatures are forecast to reach 65 degrees Friday, bringing a large storm system with the potential for heavy rainfall beginning Thursday night.

“Around this time of year all that warmth has to come at a cost,” Casey said. “All that warmth will also be bring all that moisture and all that rain as well.”

Meteorologists will be monitoring the coming storm system’s effects on the river, she said.

“Looking ahead, our next concern will be the warm up through the week and the heavy rain,” she said. “We are going to have to keep it on our radar, pun well-intended.”

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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