Increase in Ohio River Crest Forecast Leads to Installation of Additional Floodgates

Date of release:  February 20, 2019

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service for the Ohio River at Paducah shows a significant increase in the crest.  The crest is now expected to occur Sunday, February 24 at 51.5 feet.  This is two feet higher than the forecast issued yesterday.  (Note: The river stage for the Ohio River at Paducah at 2 p.m. today is 49.63 feet.)

Yesterday, crews from various departments including the Engineering-Public Works, Parks & Recreation, and Fire Departments installed floodgates at nine locations in the downtown area. Those gates protect the city to a flood stage of 51 feet.  With today’s updated crest and the possibility it could increase again, City crews will work tomorrow to close gates at four additional locations.  With tomorrow’s closures, the City of Paducah will be protected to an Ohio River stage of 52.5 feet. 

City Engineer-Public Works Director Rick Murphy says, “We use the forecast predictions for the Ohio River as a tool in guiding our response.  However, we also watch the river stage closely to see how the river is reacting in real time.  Plus, we look at how the lakes and surrounding rivers are reacting and their capacity.”

Murphy adds, “I want the public to know that we are entering the spring flood season. These floodgates will remain installed for a prolonged period of time.  We don’t want to prematurely take them down and then have to quickly reinstall them.  As a reminder, the 2011 flood event occurred in April with the Ohio River cresting in early May just over 55 feet.”

Regarding the Paducah-McCracken County Convention Center complex, the floodgate at 4th Street and Park Avenue will remain open to allow for Convention Center business to continue.  The roadway access to the Convention Centers from Campbell Street will remain open unless there is another increase in the forecast crest.

On Monday, the City of Paducah declared a State of Emergency. This action submitted to the State will help the city receive reimbursement for costs associated with the floodgate installation and related actions.  Costs that may be reimbursed include overtime for personnel, equipment rental, and the hiring of contractors.

As a reminder, pedestrian and vehicle traffic are not allowed on or near the floodwall and floodgates.  For safety, do not drive around barricades.

The City’s 12 pump stations are in operation due to the river level. The first pump station began operating when the river reached 27.5 feet.  The floodgates were last installed in February 2018.