By Jean Cole
A weary and soggy North Alabama had already received 2 to 3 inches of rain by noon Monday, with more rain expected today and possibly severe thunderstorms predicted Wednesday, officials said.
A flash-flood warning was issued for Limestone County and other North Alabama counties until 6 p.m. today. Motorists were warned to avoid low-lying and poor drainage areas, and be careful when approaching highway dips and underpasses.
On Monday, the National Weather Service in Huntsville was predicting heavy rainfall again today across the Tennessee Valley. With the ground already saturated and additional heavy rain predicted, the possibility of flash flooding and widespread flooding in some areas was likely, the NWS reported.
Limestone County District 4 Commissioner Ben Harrison reminded motorists to turn around if they approach a flooded road.
If a road is near a flooding creek or river, it could be flooded partially in one area but fully flooded elsewhere, he said. It could also be a candidate for flash flooding.
"Remember, 'turn around, don't drown,'" Harrison said. "Don't drive through water on roads."
Possible high winds, tornadoes
On Wednesday, strong to severe thunderstorms are possible, in addition to another round of heavy rainfall, according to the NWS.
"While flooding would be the primary threat to life and property, damaging wind gusts and a few tornadoes could not be ruled out," the NWS said Monday in a press release. "A risk of tree damage and power outages is also possible, as winds will be on the gusty side."
A slow-moving front heading toward the area Monday brought with it the threat of more heavy rain and flooding through today. Rainfall amounts going into today should range from 2 to 5 inches, with locally higher amounts possible through tonight, according to the NWS. Two Limestone County Commissioners said the county could get a total of 6 to 7 inches before the rain ends.
All the water is closing or threatening to close roads in the soggier sections of Limestone County.
Beware county roads
By Monday afternoon, heavy rain had triggered the closing of Cowford Road at the entrance to Brownsferry Road in Limestone County Commission District 3, the Limestone County Emergency Management Agency announced.
EMA said there were several roads throughout the county with standing water and the potential for flooding. The agency urged motorists to use extreme caution while driving and not to ignore barricades or signs placed on roads for flooding. Motorists were also urged to use extreme caution while driving at night.
Harrison said water had not crossed Myers Road yet Monday afternoon, but Myers and Bill Black Road were both paths to watch. He said even a small amount of rain and the overflow from Big Creek will put Bill Black, located near old Owens Elementary School, under water in places. Although Chapman Hollow Road was clear Monday morning, he said water could move back over the road.
Aside from specific roads in District 4, Harrison advised motorists to remain at or below the speed limit to avoid hydroplaning on county roads. He said driving at high speeds over flaws in roads also acts like a high speed water jet driving water into cracks and breaking up road surfaces.
Injecting a little levity, District 3 Commissioner Jason Black said Monday "it wasn't even raining in District 3," and that "we've got Jesus on our side."
On a serious note, he warned motorists and residents to check the EMA or NWS websites and sign up for alerts from those agencies because roads that are open Monday may not be open today or tonight.
Lovell Road was not impassable, but with the kind of rain falling, it could be underwater in places this week. Black said Buddy Garrett Road, which was impassable Friday, was one that becomes submerged when Piney Creek backs up.
He said Mooresville Road at Old Highway 20, which was impassable Friday, was not closed Monday but probably would be with more rain. He said rainfall from Ardmore and Lincoln County, Tennessee, drains into the nearby creek, which makes a 90-degree turn and sends water over the road.