The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 11, 2013

Humidity contributing to unsettled weather

BECKLEY — Continuing unsettled weather put southern West Virginia under a flash flood watch overnight, and Wyoming County was also under a severe thunderstorm watch.

Flash flooding can result in smaller creeks and streams flooding and sometimes in urban flooding, said National Weather Service-Blacksburg Meteorologist Chris Fisher.

Urban flooding occurs during thunderstorms when pipes are overwhelmed by too much water.

Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas, Wyoming, Greenbrier, Summers and Monroe counties were all placed under a flash flood watch.

“It’s pretty humid out,” said NWS Charleston meteorologist Simone Lewis said Wednesday afternoon. “There’s a lot of moisture in the air, and so any showers or storms we get are capable of producing heavy downpours, typically at least an inch or more in an hour time period.

“Obviously, with the rain we’ve had over the last week, compounded with the heavy rain flowing from the storms, we’re a little worried some area creeks and streams could overflow their banks,” she added.

On June 17, 1.88 inches of rain fell in half an hour in Beckley, leading to major urban flooding of a sewer system on Ewart Avenue.

Beckley Sanitary Board General Manager Jeremiah Johnson said that despite replacement of a major line in the area, four or five manholes routinely present problems in the Ewart system, which feeds into Robert C. Byrd Drive.

The complicated nature of the infrastructure has presented challenges in repairing that portion of the system, but Johnson said June 18 that completion of a stormwater facility on Ewart could reduce storm-related flooding to the area.

The facility was initially expected to be completed in June, but severe weather had slowed the schedule, Johnson added on June 18.

He was not available for comment Wednesday.

Severe thunderstorms may result in hail at least an inch in diameter and/or winds of up to 55 miles per hour.

Lewis said chances of thunderstorm and showers are expected this morning and into the early afternoon, but Friday and Saturday are expected to be “dry.”

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