Strong thunderstorms and heavy rain caused significant flooding in southwestern Kentucky early Wednesday, prompting the authorities in one county to scramble to rescue residents from rising waters.
“Major flooding like many have never seen is occurring” in Graves County, along Kentucky’s border with Tennessee, the sheriff’s office said, adding that a flash flood emergency was in effect.
The National Weather Service described the scene as a “particularly dangerous situation.”
Between four and 10 inches of rain had fallen in some areas of western Kentucky by midday Wednesday, the Weather Service in Paducah said.
There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries, according to Trooper Sarah Burgess, a spokeswoman for Kentucky State Police Post 1, which covers 11 counties in western Kentucky.
“It’s a lot of water. It’s a lot of rain,” Trooper Burgess said on Wednesday. “This is definitely the most water I have seen in this area in my recent memory.”
About six water rescues were completed, said Sheriff Jon Hayden of Graves County.
At least one shelter was opened for displaced residents.
A flash flood warning was also issued for parts of western Kentucky, including Carlisle County and northeastern Hickman County until the afternoon, the Weather Service said.
Video and photos of the flood damage in Mayfield, the seat of Graves County, showed submerged vehicles in neighborhoods and rushing water meeting the steps and front doors of homes.
Photos shared on social media and by local TV outlets also showed roadways that had turned into flowing streams, making them impassable. The Weather Service said that several roads throughout Marshall County were closed because of flooding.
Trooper Burgess said there were roads flooding that wouldn’t typically do so.
“That tells us that this is pretty significant,” she said.
The Weather Service in Paducah urged drivers to “Turn around, don’t drown when encountering flooded roads.”
Severe weather began sweeping across southwestern Kentucky around midnight, said Keith Cooley, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Paducah.
“We actually have several reports of heavy rainfall coming through there,” he said. “We’ve had some severe weather reports, too, with some hail and damaging winds overnight.”
Mr. Cooley said four to seven inches of rain had fallen in Graves County, “and most of that fell between midnight and about 4 in the morning.”
At least another two to three inches of rain was expected to fall through the morning. “It’s just going to kind of exacerbate the flooding that’s ongoing right now,” he said.
Areas in far west Kentucky could end up with eight to 10, or more, inches of rain.
On Twitter, Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky asked residents to “pray for Mayfield and areas of Western Kentucky impacted by significant flooding from last night’s storms.”
He added that crews were working to assess the damage.
“Just like every challenge we’ve faced, we will be there for all those affected,” he said.
Mayfield has seen devastation before. In December 2021, a tornado swept through the city, killing several people at a candle factory and destroying shops and homes that had stood for at least 100 years.