That's good news considering we have had more than our share of “spring storms” in the past week than in the whole month of April.
According to the Kentucky Mesonet – the commonwealth's official source for weather and climate data – Russellville received 11.93 inches of rain this month so far with 1.35 inches falling on Sunday, April 24 and 4.10 falling Wednesday, April 27. A little less than an inch was recorded between Monday, April 25 and Tuesday, April 26.
The weather station for the Kentucky Mesonet is located in the Baker Natural Area off the 68-80 Bypass.
Compared with April 2010, Russellville has seen 7.9 more inches of rain this month. In April 2009 there was 5.38 inches recorded and in April 2008 it was 6.75 inches.
This is one of the main reasons for so many up-rooted trees during the past few days says Terry Cole, deputy director for the Logan County Emergency Management and chief of Logan’s Search and Rescue.
“The ground is so saturated from the rain over the last month that is doesn’t take much to up-root the trees, especially the big ones because they are so top heavy,” said Cole, who has been out helping clear roadways and fight flooding with both agencies since 1 a.m. Tuesday. Others out helping are volunteer firefighters and the county’s road department.
Not only did Logan County get slammed with a severe thunderstorm in the early morning hours of Tuesday, April 26- bringing with it straight line winds that toppled trees, blew over barns, outbuildings and grain bins, but the county also got doused with several inches of rain the very next day, causing rivers and creeks to overflow, blocking roadways and flooding houses.
Jim Masters of the National Weather Service visited Logan County Tuesday and rode around with Cole to assess the damage. According to Cole, Masters said the storms Tuesday morning hit Logan County in the Olmstead area first, then traveled at approximately 5 to 10 miles wide through Russellville, Plainview, Auburn, Bucksville and onto Warren and Butler Counties.
Masters assessed straight-line wind speeds in the Olmstead area at between 90 to 100 miles per hour, and in the Russellville area between 85 and 90 miles per hour. The National Weather Service takes the data complied after severe storms and uses it to help get out earlier warnings to communities in the state.
Some people have compared this weeks weather to last year’s flood, which happened May 1-2 when 7.86 inches of rain fell between those two days, just 3.76 more inches than fell this past Wednesday.
“This is not as bad as it was last year,” said Cole, calling this recent rainfall moderate. Cole understands that some people are experiencing flooding of their homes as they did last year; however, last year’s flood fell over less than two days, where this recent rain fall accumulated over a four to five day period. “It’s bad, don’t get me wrong, but last year was catastrophic,” said Cole.
Cole believes the past few years have been much worse as far as spring weather than in the past several decades. “The last flood that I can remember was in 1997, and then before that I can’t remember any,” said Cole, who has been told climate change is one of the main reasons.
“Olmstead was hit hard Tuesday morning,” said Cole adding there were so many fallen trees, barns, sheds and grain bins, it took several hours and hours for the Olmstead Rural Fire Department to clear it out. Auburn is another city that was hit hard with Wednesday’s rainfall. The city park’s creek rose past the banks and flooded the park.
Cole says even though the recent weather effects the community in a negative way, it is also a time when people realize what they should do to prepare for bad weather when it comes. A lot of people lost electricity during these storms and some had to leave their homes due to flooding or wind destruction.
“Although people can’t stop weather, they can better prepare themselves for when it hits,” said Cole.
Always have plenty of batteries and flashlights, first-aid supplies, needed medication, food and water, an all-weather radio and an emergency plan.
Families should be prepared for all hazards that affect their area. NOAA's National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the American Red Cross urge each family to develop a family disaster plan.
Where will your family be when disaster strikes? They could be anywhere - at work, at school, or in the car. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children are safe? Disasters may force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services - water, gas, electricity or telephones - were cut off?
Meet with your family to create a plan. Discuss the information you have gathered. Pick two places to meet: a spot outside your home for an emergency, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Choose an out-of-state friend as your "family check-in contact" for everyone to call if the family gets separated.
Other hazards that often accompany thunderstorms are:
• Flash Floods: Number ONE weather killer - 146 deaths annually
• Lightning: Kills 75-100 people each year
• Damaging Straight-line Winds: Can reach 140 mph
• Large Hail: Can reach the size of a grapefruit - causes several hundred million dollars in damage annually to property and crops.