PARKERSBURG - Unusual atmospheric conditions have placed the Mid-Ohio Valley under a flood watch for the rest of the week, meteorologists said.
All counties in the region are under a flood watch through Saturday, the National Weather Service in Charleston said. The watch covers 22 counties in West Virginia, nine counties in Ohio and four counties in Kentucky.
Both the size and length of the watch period is the result of unusual weather patterns converging over the Mid-Ohio Valley, said Tim Axford, meterologist with the weather in Charleston.
Two systems will be coming through the area back-to-back, said Axford. The first will arrive today and quickly pass through, he said.
The second system will arrive this evening and stall over the area, said Axford. This system is expected to drop 2-3 inches of rain through Saturday, he said.
"With the ground already saturated and no vegetation growing to soak up the rain, this 2-3 inches of rainfall could spell trouble for the watch area," said Axford. "Since all of the rain will be runoff, we believe that flooding is likely," Axford said. "If it happens, it will start with the little streams and creeks, and then spread to the small rivers and then the larger rivers in turn."
This amount of moisture is unusual for this time of year, he said.
"We have moisture coming directly up from the Gulf of Mexico and feeding this thing," he said. "All of our flooding variables say there is a high risk of general flooding from this."
This system has two sides, a warm side and a cold side, said Axford.
"On the cold side, everyone is talking about all the snow. We got lucky this time and are on the warm side, so we will get the rain," he said.
The difference between a watch and a warning should be stressed, said Axford.
A flood watch means in the next 12-48 hours, or in this case until Saturday, there is a potential of hazardous weather conditions, he said. A warning means flooding will occur, he said.
"Our intent with the watch is to make people aware that flooding might occur and to keep them aware of the situation," Axford said. "Everyone should be alert during their commutes and around their homes and workplaces for rising water," he said.
Never drive through flood waters of any depth, Axford said.