Kentucky declares state of emergency as historic rainfall floods communities
Kentucky's governor declared a state of emergency Wednesday after historic rainfall inundated parts of the state and forecasters said additional storms on "extremely saturated ground" overnight raised fresh flooding concerns.
The big picture: Gov. Andy Beshear urged people to "pray for Mayfield and areas of Western Kentucky impacted by significant flooding from last night's storms" as officials responded to the damage. The city in Graves County is still recovering from a December 2021 tornado that left 57 people dead, the Washington Post notes.
By the numbers: A record 11.28 inches of rain fell in Graves County in 24 hours, according to preliminary data from the National Weather Service's Paducah office.
Zoom in: There were no immediate reports of casualties from life-threatening flooding, but officials closed multiple roads that were washed out and the Graves County sheriff said the inundation led to six water rescues, per the New York Times.
Zoom out: "Abundant heat, moisture, and instability is producing life threatening flash flooding in western Kentucky and southern Illinois," per the NWS.
- Parts of Missouri were also inundated by heavy rains and the NWS' St. Louis office warned more heavy rainfall could trigger flash flooding, and the strongest storms "may have hail to the size of quarters" and wind gusts up to 60 mph.
Meanwhile, Pfizer said a tornado had damaged the drugmaker's large Rocky Mount plant that produces drugs including anesthesia and nearly 25% of all sterile injectable medications used in U.S. hospitals as it tore through the North Carolina city, per Reuters.
- Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone told reporters there were "reports of 50,000 pallets of medicine that are strewn across the facility and damaged through the rain and the wind."
- "Damage has been found north of Rocky Mount consistent with an EF3 tornado and wind speeds of 150 mph," the NWS' Raleigh office tweeted.
- Axios' Andrew Freedman notes this is because a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, which provides added moisture and energy to storm systems.
More from Axios:
- Google's AI-enabled flood forecasting goes global
- Climate change making historic flooding "less natural"
- There's no safe port in a changing climate
Editor's note: This article has been updated to include details of the tornado in North Carolina.