National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Overview

Prior to the morning of Monday June 20th, a series of rainy days had primed local creeks and streams, setting the stage for what would be one of the worst flash floods to impact eastern Kentucky, and the most significant event of 2011.

A warm front lifting north through eastern Kentucky on the 19th triggered an outbreak of strong thunderstorms during the afternoon and evening, leaving an outflow boundary across a portion of southeastern Kentucky heading into the overnight hours. This boundary would provide the focus for another round of nocturnal thunderstorms which began training along this boundary.

The 24 hours rainfall totals through 2 PM on Monday June 20th, combined with the rainfall totals over the previous weekend illustrates the amount of rainfall which led to the devastating flooding.

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Radar Loop from 1 am EDT through 8 am EDT June 20, 2011
(point A = Kayjay, point B = Middlesboro)

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Among the hardest hit areas was the community of Kayjay in southern Knox County, where 1 death was attributed to the flooding when a trailer was swept off of its foundation. Middlesboro in Bell County was also among the areas which were severely impacted, in what many residents called the worst flooding in 20 years. Dozens of roads were inundated around eastern Kentucky, with numerous water rescues throughout Bell, Knox, Whitley and Perry counties during the early morning hours.

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Downtown Middlesboro (photos courtesy of Betty Jones)
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