National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


A prolonged period of light to moderate rain led to flooding across portions of eastern Kentucky, particularly southeastern Kentucky, beginning during the overnight hours of Friday, February 9 into Saturday, February 10, 2018. This occurred along and ahead of a slow moving frontal boundary as generally between 1.5 and 4.5 inches of rain fell across eastern Kentucky. The hardest hit area was Harlan County, where flooding occurred across much of the county as up to 5.5 inches of rain fell. A state of emergency was declared as the Cumberland River at Baxter reached major flood stage, prompting the closure of all of the city of Harlan's floodgates. The floodgate for the city of Pikeville was also closed as the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River breached 38 feet. Additional emergency declarations were made in Bell, Clay, Floyd, Knott, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, and Perry Counties, as well as for the city of Pineville, as numerous tributaries and the main stems of the Kentucky, Cumberland, and Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy Rivers exceeded bankfull.

Nearly 2,200 power outages were blamed on the widespread flooding, while thousands of boil water advisories were issued as shelters were opened to provide water. Several bridges were also inspected by engineers for structural integrity as the flood waters receded. A number of water rescues took place during the weekend and into Monday morning, including nearly half a dozen in and around Hazard. Hundreds of people were forced from their homes as river flooding along portions of the Kentucky and Cumberland Rivers continued well into the following week. In addition, the saturated ground led to several landslides and mudslides, including one along Kentucky Highway 74 near Middlesboro.

Persistent light to moderate rainfall from early on February 10 through February 11.
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Water about 4-5 feet deep across KY Hwy 541 at Kentucky Mountain Bible College. Courtesy Theresa Sullivan. Flooding along Straight Creek in Bell County.              Courtesy Ashley Beach. Tug Fork in eastern Pike County. Courtesy Mary Reed Runyon.
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