National Weather Service officials have officially closed the books on 2019, noting it was a year of extremes.  Barely a week into 2020, forecasters are now calling for an extremely wet start to the month of January.

Earlier this week, meteorologists voiced serious concerns about the potential for heavy rainfall and flooding across the region for Thursday, January 9 through Saturday, January 11. Forecasters state that a “stalled out frontal boundary will provide a focus for showers and some thunderstorms with heavy rainfall Thursday, Friday and possibly through Saturday.  The three to five inches of rainfall currently forecast represents a conservative estimate. The potential exists for a narrow swath of six inches or more of precipitation somewhere across the four state region. The heaviest rains are likely Friday into Saturday.”

With nearly saturated ground conditions expected at the start of this rainy period, flooding problems are likely to develop rather quickly. Weather officials add that at the very least, flooding of low-lying and poorly drained areas as well as low water crossings can be expected.

Heading into this potentially heavy rainfall event, some area rivers are already at fairly high levels.  Earlier in the week, the Wabash at Mount Carmel was at 16.5 feet – still below the 19 feet flood stage. At New Harmony, the Wabash was at 13.6 feet, still below the 15 feet flood stage. On the Little Wabash at Carmi, the river was still well below the 27 feet flood stage at 20.23 feet.  However, if  heavy rainfall actually materializes this week as forecast, these rivers are expected to spill out of their banks rapidly. 

Area residents, and particularly those with oil or farming interests are urged to monitor the latest forecasts as they are issued. 

For the rest of the story, check out this week's Navigator.