Tropical Depression Cindy spread drenching rains across the upper South on Friday, prompting flash flood warnings from the Mississippi valley to West Virginia as emergency planners urged those in its path to keep a wary eye on the large storm system.
Heavy rains are expected to push river and lake levels higher over the next few days as remnants of the one-time tropical storm cross Tennessee and Kentucky and take aim at West Virginia. The severe weather system, which is blamed for some coastal flooding in the Deep South earlier in the week, tornadoes and one death, was rumbling closer to the heavily populated East Coast.
National Weather Service officials in the three states said rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches (50 to 100 millimeters) were possible, with isolated amounts up to 6 inches (150 millimeters) in some areas. Flash flood watches were in effect in much of Kentucky and West Virginia. The storm’s expected arrival in West Virginia comes on the anniversary of torrential rains last June that left 23 people dead in West Virginia.
“We should have a comfortable weekend coming up if we can just get through tonight and tomorrow,” Greg Meffert, lead forecaster in the Paducah, Kentucky office of the National Weather Service, said earlier.
Crews in Memphis, Tennessee, had worked Thursday to clear storm drains to help prevent street flooding before the storm set in. Memphis Light Gas and Water reported that as many as 10,000 customers were without power Friday morning, and local media reports said heavy rain and winds also caused traffic problems there as the storm raked its way over the state.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency is staffing its operations center in Nashville on Friday and Saturday to coordinate any requests for assistance.
Meanwhile, the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management held briefings for emergency managers statewide, spokesman Lawrence Messina said. County and local officials can send the division situation reports or requests for help as needed, he said.
On Thursday afternoon, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a new law to coordinate the state’s flood mitigation and response efforts with a new state resiliency office. It also establishes a new legislative committee with oversight.
A suspected tornado near Birmingham, Alabama, flattened businesses and injured one person Thursday, while the mayor of the coastal Louisiana town of Lafitte urged residents to evacuate ahead of a rising tide — two lingering effects of the weakening system that fueled harsh weather across the Southeast.
The Gulf Coast was still suffering from the effects of Cindy, a former tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico that crawled ashore early Thursday near the Louisiana-Texas state line. Downgraded to a tropical depression, Cindy weakened as it crossed Louisiana toward Arkansas but a broad circulation around the system swept moist Gulf air over the South, fueling severe weather and pushing up coastal tides.
As a slow-moving tropical storm that formed Tuesday in the Gulf, Cindy was blamed for one death. Nolan McCabe, 10, of St. Louis, Missouri, was vacationing with his family on the Alabama coast when he was hit by a log washed in by a large wave. Cindy also caused widespread coastal highway and street flooding and several short-lived tornadoes, but no other deaths.
McGill reported from New Orleans. Associated Press writers Adrian Sainz in Memphis; Michael Virtanen in Morgantown, W.Va.; Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Kimberly Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama; and Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.