National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Several rounds of heavy rain moved across eastern Kentucky from late Friday, February 26th through early Monday, March 1st. The combination of all the heavy rainfall led to significant flooding across a good portion of central and east Kentucky. For some areas, this was the most significant flooding in the last 50 to 60 years or more.

The first round of heavy rain came through on the morning of Saturday, February 27th. This early rainfall targeted areas along the Hal Rogers Parkway, including Laurel, Clay, Perry, and Knott Counties. Flash flooding led to some closed roads for a short time in these areas.

The second round of rainfall came through late Saturday night as a warm front lifted northward across east Kentucky. The heavy rain stalled out over portions of Powell and Menifee Counties, leading to flash flooding in the early morning hours of Sunday.

Finally, the third round of heavy rain came from late Sunday afternoon through Sunday night. Given that much of the area had already received significant amounts of rain from the earlier rain, this last round, caused widespread flash flooding across much of east Kentucky. This ultimately led to larger creek and river flooding. River levels on the Kentucky river were some of the highest readings ever recorded, namely at Booneville and Ravenna. Clay City, Heidelberg, Jackson, Paintsville, and Salyersville also saw significant river flooding of which hadn't been seen in 40 to 50 years.

The periods of heavy rain and flooding, led to numerous water rescues and mud/rock slides. Many areas were cut off or blocked due to the flooding. Power outages were also noted and reached as high as 12,000 during the peak of the flash flooding Sunday night.

River Flooding

The North Fork of the Kentucky river at Hazard crested at 24.77 feet, which fell just short of the 26.00 foot crest just last year on February 7th, 2020.

The North Fork of the Kentucky river at Jackson crested at 39.04 feet.  The last time the river exceeded this height was May 8th, 1984 when the river crested at 41.97 feet.  

North Fork Kentucky River

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Hazard Jackson

South Fork Kentucky River

Oneida, on the south fork of the Kentucky river, crested near 34 feet.  The last time the river exceeded this height was on March 12, 1963, when the river crested at 36.89 feet.  This was the 4th highest crest on record.

Booneville, on the south fork of the Kentucky river, set a new all time record crest of 44.33 feet.  This broke the previous record crest of 43.40 feet, set on January 30th, 1957. 

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Oneida Booneville

Kentucky River

Heidelberg, on the Kentucky river, crested at 34.2 feet, falling just short of the all time record of 35.60 feet, set on February 4th, 1939.  However, this crest will fall within the top 5 crests of all time at Heidelberg.

Ravenna, on the Kentucky river, likely set a new all time record crest.  The automated gage was knocked offline due to the flood waters.  However, according to the United States Geological Service (USGS), the river crested near 41 feet.  This record is preliminary until we can confirm the information.  This will break the previous record crest of 39.37 feet, set on February 4th, 1939.

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Heidelberg Ravenna

Red River

Clay City, on the Red River, crested at 25.69 feet. This crest fell just short of the all time record crest of 26.75 feet, set on December 9th, 1978.  This crest will end up being the 2nd highest crest on record at Clay City.

Clay City

Cumberland River

While minor flooding was observed on the Cumberland River, the impacts were not as severe as locations farther north, where the axis of heavier rain occurred.

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Pineville Barbourville Williamsburg

Levisa Fork of Big Sandy River

Minor to Moderate Flooding was observed on the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River.  The most significant river flooding was at Paintsville.  Paintsville crested at 39.74 feet. The river hasn't crested above this mark since May 9th, 1984, when the river reached 40.35 feet.

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Pikeville Prestonsburg Paintsville

Licking River

Salyersville, on the Licking River crested at 20.36 feet.  This was similar to the flood event on May 9th, 2009, when the river reached 20.67 feet.