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AccuWeather forecasters warn about potential for new flood disasters

By Alex Sosnowki, Accuweather.com
Police walk to dry land after checking flooded automobiles for drivers, following historic rains causing flooding on streets and houses in St. Louis on Tuesday. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/427abddca86003f081e0214c24536649/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Police walk to dry land after checking flooded automobiles for drivers, following historic rains causing flooding on streets and houses in St. Louis on Tuesday. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Flooding downpours will continue to threaten lives and property across a lengthy corridor of the United States into the start of August, AccuWeather meteorologists warn. Dangers will return to flood-ravaged Kentucky by the end of the weekend with 25 dead reported, following a brief reprieve from torrential downpours through Saturday.

A slow-moving front is the culprit behind repeated showers and thunderstorms, which have triggered dangerous flash flooding that has claimed more than a dozen lives in eastern Kentucky and two lives in the St. Louis area during the last week of July. Dozens of dramatic high-water rescues became necessary in both areas as flash flood emergencies ensued.

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"Downpours will return to the zone in central and southeastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia from Sunday to Monday," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.

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Several additional inches of rain on top of wet ground will renew the flash flood risk in portions of Kentucky and West Virginia from Sunday into Monday. AccuWeather forecasters urge people to stay alert to flooding dangers, monitor flood watches and warnings and avoid low-lying areas along small streams and secondary rivers. There is the potential for swift-rising water that can block escape routes on Sunday and Monday.

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"Additional roads and bridges may become washed out and impassable," Anderson said. "In areas of steep terrain, there will also be the risk of mudslides."

Most of the rain is expected to stay south of St. Louis, which experienced renewed flooding with additional rainfall on Thursday evening. Six children were rescued from high water that trapped them in a daycare, according to the St. Louis Fire Department.

AccuWeather meteorologists remain concerned for incidents of dangerous flash flooding and the potential for a localized flooding disaster anywhere from the south-central Plains to the lower mid-Atlantic and part of the Carolinas through the weekend.

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Persistent showers and thunderstorms will move over areas along an approximately 1,200-mile-long stretch of the country in a phenomenon that meteorologists refer to as training. Rainfall of 2-4 inches will be common in this zone with higher amounts between 4 and 8 inches and an AccuWeather Local StormMax&trade of 12 inches through Sunday.

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Some parts of the nation in the potential flood zone were facing abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions at the start of this past week. However, excessive rainfall of 8-12 inches within several hours can trigger flooding regardless of drought status.

Towns and cities in the path of heavy rain and the potential for flash flooding over the southern Plains include Dodge City, Kan., and Tulsa, Okla. Farther to the east, some of the cities in the Mississippi and Tennessee valleys at greatest risk for dangerous and disruptive flooding downpours include Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville, Tenn., and Charleston, W.Va.

The Ozark Mountains, which has hilly terrain similar to that which contributed to deadly flash flooding in eastern Kentucky earlier this past week, is one of the regions facing heavy rainfall this weekend, forecasters say. Life-threatening flash flooding could develop in the area as the wet pattern persists.

Farther to the east along the Interstate 40 corridor, eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina could face similarly dangerous conditions into Sunday. Later Sunday night and into Monday, the heavy rain will shift northward and eastward, impacting portions of the central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic. While rainfall totals may be a bit lower in these areas, flooding can still occur, especially in the rugged terrain of the Appalachians.

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Forecasters and officials warned motorists to avoid driving on flooded roadways. Water may be deeper than it appears, and road surfaces can be washed away beneath floodwaters.

Despite triggering flooding dangers, the rain will be beneficial in alleviating drought conditions gripping the southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley.

On top of that, cloud cover alone will help suppress temperatures for a couple of days in parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas, where highs around the 100-degree mark have been so common this summer.

On Thursday, Tulsa had its "coolest" day of the month so far through July 28 with a reading of 96 Fahrenheit. A rainfall of 1.10 inches accompanied the "cooler air" and delivered the most precipitation in a single day since June 10, when 1.21 inches fell. As more frequent storms prowled the city on Friday, temperatures were held considerably lower, with the mercury only reaching 82 degrees. This was only the second July day with a below average high temperature.

July 3 through Friday, Dallas has amassed 26 days with highs at or above the century mark. The last time Dallas had a high under 100 was nearly two weeks ago, on July 15, with a high of 99. There is a small chance that the front dips far enough to the south to deliver a brief downpour to the metropolitan area this weekend. The last time there was 0.01 of an inch or greater was on June 3, which was 55 days ago.

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