Madisonville preps for stormy start to weekend

Richard Burkard/The Messenger

Danny Whitsell and Scott Lynn of the Madisonville Public Works Department cleaned a catch basin on Beech Tree Lane Thursday, preparing for potentially heavy rain this weekend.

Thursday was the breezy calm before the storm. And Madisonville city crews spent the day preparing for potential danger.

Several city departments received assignments. For the Public Works Department, it meant "street sweeping, especially in flood zones," Superintendent Stephanie Gipson said. "We're doing extra leaf pickup and picking up debris."

Gipson said City Administrator Robert Janes coordinated the planning for heavy rain, which could cause flooding in some places.

"We've been on social media, asking people to not have any debris laying around," Janes said. "We're taking precautions."

Hopkins County Emergency Management Director Nick

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Bailey said he joined Janes and other local officials in a Tuesday conference call to discuss the risks.

A map posted by the National Weather Service in Paducah Thursday morning projected Madisonville could receive 1.5-2 inches of rain through Saturday night. The northern edge of Hopkins County could see two to three inches.

"The heaviest rain will span from late Friday night through Saturday afternoon," meteorologist Derrick Snyder said.

Yet the new forecast is optimistic, compared with earlier in the week.

"The heaviest rain totals have trended west," Snyder said. A long-range forecast issued Tuesday put the potential rainfall in Hopkins County much higher.

"Two to three inches is not really a big issue," Bailey said. "Five to six inches would have been."

The National Weather Service in Paducah issued a flood warning from Friday evening through Saturday morning for the Green River, along the Muhlenberg-Ohio County line. While no flash flood watch was in effect for Kentucky yet, Snyder suggested that still could happen as the storm line moves through.

"Do not drive across flooded roadways," Bailey said. "Don't drive around barricades."

High winds could make things as dangerous outside as heavy rain. Snyder said peak gusts in Hopkins County could approach 45 miles per hour Saturday afternoon.

"Soggy ground could lead to issues with tree limbs being uprooted," Snyder said.

"If a cold snap happened with the ground frozen, we'd have even more problems," Snyder added. He explained that harder ground is more difficult for absorbing precipitation. That's one reason why river levels rise during winter storms.

If this sort of weather seems familiar for this time of year, it should. Snyder noted strong January rains also fell in the last two years.

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