SOUTHERN INDIANA — Rainfall totals in the Louisville Metro were already more than double the September average as of Sunday, with rains through Wednesday expected to cause some flash flooding.
September usually averages 3.05 inches of rain; as of Sunday, 7.1 inches of precipitation had been recorded. For the year, the area has received about 18 inches more than what's normal, Kevin Harned, WAVE 3 chief meteorologist, said Monday.
“That's tremendous,” he said. “The ground is saturated so it doesn't take much to see these flash flood watches and warnings issued.” He added that this time of the year is usually the driest season.
Two and a quarter inches fell on the area Saturday and Sunday, with two to four more expected by Wednesday evening.
“We don't typically see these kinds of rains frequently this time of year,” he said.
Around three inches of rain fell over a three-to-five hour period the weekend of Sept. 8, as measured at the Louisville International Airport, with some areas receiving higher amounts. That rain caused flooding and water assistance calls throughout much of Southern Indiana.
The Summit Springs development on State Street in New Albany flooded areas surrounding businesses lower on the hillside such as Home Depot during the deluge on Sept. 8. With rain falling Monday at a lesser rate, water could still be seen rushing down the hill, although major ponding wasn't observed. At least one business had prepared sandbags around the parking lot in case it does. A retention basin near the site was full.
In Jeffersonville, flash flooding on Sept. 8 caused waters to enter the lower level of the M.Fine building on Spring Street, displacing residents from 18 units, many of whom are still in a hotel as a permanent fix is sought by the building owner.
The Clarksville Fire Department reported several water assistance runs that weekend, while the Jeffersonville Fire Department attended to about 13; neither department reported any injuries. New Albany reported no water assistance runs.
“Any time it's raining an inch an hour or more, you're going to have problems,” Harned said. That event was different than what's expected this week, though. Although the water fell quickly, the ground is now saturated and with prolonged rain, there are more chances for flash flooding to occur.
“It's like a sponge,” he said. “If the sponge is full, you add more water to it, it's going to roll off the top of it.”
Although the rain through Wednesday could cause more opportunity for flash flooding, local emergency departments say they're ready for what comes and don't expect major issues.
In Clarksville, Fire Chief Brandon Skaggs said what they saw most of in the Sept. 8 flooding were cars getting stalled in high water. He and representatives of the other departments say they stay ready for any type of emergency.
“We have all the stuff ready in case we do need to make a run that's related to water,” New Albany Fire Chief Matt Juliot said, adding that there have been fewer runs in recent years after work to city detention basins.
Sgt. Justin Ames with the Jeffersonville Fire Department, said they don't usually see any runs when rain is spread out over a longer period of time, which is what is expected over the next two days.
“It's a pretty good steady rain, but the amounts of rain we're experiencing are going down the drain faster than they're coming down from the sky,” he said.
Floyd County EMA director Kent Barrow said he expects that some areas in the county will flood, but he believes it will recede quickly.
"If it continues to do what it is doing now, which is not raining real hard, I think we'll be OK," he said.
Harned said it's important for people to be aware of the water, not entering flooded areas even if they believe they can get through. In Louisville, an Uber driver was killed during the Sept. 8 flooding when his car stalled and filled with water.
“Turn around, don't drive through,” he said. “We've seen several vehicles stalled out today. [You] just simply don't know how deep the water is or what's underneath it.”