Flash Flood Climatology of the Appalachian Mountains: Focus on Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia Summer Rainfall Events

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Jane Marie Wix, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY; and W. N. Rodgers and R. Mahmood

The Appalachian Mountains are subject to flash floods due to interactions between complex terrain and frequent rainfall. Previous studies have shown that a number of environmental factors can trigger flash floods, which can leave behind a variety of outcomes. However, there is a lack of research concerning flash floods in the Appalachian region. This study addresses these concerns by examining summer (June-August) rainfall frequency and intensity in connection with flash floods in the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia during 1995-2005. Flash floods were identified using the National Climatic Data Center's (NCDC) Storm Database. Radar estimated rainfall data from the area National Weather Service Weather Forecast Offices were provided by the NCDC. In order to examine relationships between flash flood events and rainfall amounts for both states, the latter was categorized for: 0 to 24.99 mm, 25 to 49.99 mm, 50 to 74.99 mm, 75 to 99.99 mm, 100 to 124.99 mm, 125 to 150 mm, and 150+ mm. Subsequently, we have calculated flash flood frequencies associated with these rain fall amount and categories. It is speculated that both large and small-scale atmospheric circulation, combined with antecedent soil moisture conditions played a role in producing flash floods.