Review of Heavy Rain/Flooding Event of January 22-23, 2006


A cold front swept across the Bluegrass State over the weekend of January 21st and 22nd and stalled over the Gulf Coast States.  A wave of low pressure developed on the front over central Mississippi midday Sunday.  Abundant moisture flowed north over the Tennessee Valley as the low pressure area slowly moved northeast across eastern Kentucky.

Rain and embedded thunderstorms pushed into south central Kentucky just before Noon EST on Sunday and quickly overspread all of east Kentucky.  The rain fell moderate to heavy at times during the afternoon hours as the initial band of rainfall moved quickly northeast.

18 UTC/1 PM EST Sunday January 22, 2006 Surface Map and Composite Radar Imagery.


By early evening, a second surge of moderate to heavy rain pushed rapidly northeast.  This band remained in place west of a Whitley City to Jackson to Paintsville line through the night, producing rainfall rates of around one-half inch per hour in many locations.  To the east of this line, only a few showers fell until around midnight when the rain shifted east as the low center moved across the region. 

06 UTC/1 AM EST Monday January 23, 2006 Surface Map and Composite Radar Imagery.


The rains quickly tapered off from west to east late at night as the low center exited to the east, and the majority of the accumulating rainfall was over by 7 AM EST.

12 UTC/7 AM EST Monday January 23, 2006 Surface Map and Composite Radar Imagery.



The map below shows the storm total accumulated rainfall for the 24-hour period ending 7 AM EST Monday January 23, 2006.  As shown in this graphic, the greatest rainfall amounts fell northwest of a Somerset to Booneville to West Liberty line, where the heavy rain axis remained the longest.  Areas along the Virginia border were spared the heaviest rains, as southerly winds downsloped off the higher terrain to the southeast, creating a rain shadow effect.

Total Precipitation Estimate for 24-Hour Period ending 12 UTC/7 AM EST Monday January 23, 2006.

The following table contains a sampling of rainfall amounts from area observation platforms and from cooperative observers and storm spotters.  The amounts are generally 24-hour totals received around 7 AM EST Monday January 23, 2006.



The heavy rain, in combination with already saturated ground from heavy rains during the previous week, added up to produce flash flooding problems across parts of the area.  Numerous road closures were reported during the early morning hours as some creeks and streams overflowed their banks.  The larger rivers across the area rose due to the rains, but stayed below flood stage.  The high water conditions did cause backwater flooding along the Kentucky River in parts of Powell and Estill Counties, which lasted through early on Wednesday January 25th.

The following were all flooding reports received at the National Weather Service Office on Monday January 23, 2006, in chronological order.

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