Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

CNHI/SE Iowa

May 4, 2012

Repeated rains raise flash flood risk

OSKALOOSA — Repeated storms have soaked the ground in southeast Iowa to the point officials are starting to get concerned about flash flooding.

Multiple flash flood watches were out Friday morning, though all had lapsed before noon.

In Ottumwa and Oskaloosa, the National Weather Service says just over an inch of rain has fallen in the past 36 hours. That doesn't sound like much, but there's a limit to how much the ground can take. Heavy rains predicted for the next day or so could cause flooding.

The heaviest rains have occurred just to the east. Fairfield has measured 2.94 inches of rain according to NWS records. Jefferson County also saw a tornado warning with Thursday night's storms.

Flash flood watches are already in place for much of the area. Keokuk County had a flash flood warning for Friday morning.

Flash flooding isn't as dramatic as tornados or lightning strikes, but it is lethal. In 2011, 113 people died in flooding in the United States and the country averages 94 fatalities per year. Sixty-three percent of those fatalities came when people drove into flooded areas.

Storms remain in the forecast through Monday.

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