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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Area flood watch will lift at 10 a.m.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
A flood watch issued by the National Weather Service is in effect until 10 this morning due to large amounts of rain that have fallen since Monday.
However, emergency officials said late Tuesday they knew of no flooding that has occurred locally so far.
The watch includes Henry and Patrick counties and Martinsville. It means a potential for flooding exists and people living in flood-prone areas should be ready to move to higher ground if flooding occurs nearby.
Tuesday night, the weather service issued a flash flood warning for parts of Henry County northwest of Martinsville where it “looks probable” for flooding to occur, NWS meteorologist Dennis Sleighter said at that time.
The warning, which expired at 2:15 this morning, was precautionary, said Sleighter — no flooding in the affected area had been reported as of mid-Tuesday evening.
As of late Tuesday, rain gauges indicated more than 4 inches had fallen in some places locally, including the Chestnut Knob area of Henry County and the Raven Rock Church area of Patrick County.
Another 1 to 3 inches of rain was possible through this morning, according to a statement on the weather service’s website.
Parts of the area, especially those along the state line, may see a total of about 5 inches of rain before it ends today, the weather service reported.
Henry County officials were out checking the gauges Tuesday.
“The streams have risen since about noon, but they’re still not out of their banks,” county Public Safety Director Rodney Howell said that afternoon.
Police scanner reports on Tuesday night indicated that water was on the road at some bridges across local streams and cars were hydroplaning.
Water levels in the Smith River also were elevated, Howell said. Forecasters at the weather service encouraged people to keep an eye on the river.
Gauges showed all parts of Patrick County had received at least 2 inches of rain, although there were reports that Meadows of Dan received 8 inches of rain.
Several gauges in Henry County and Martinsville were showing low amounts of rainfall, if any at all. Officials said those gauges probably are clogged with leaves or other debris. They will check them soon to see if the devices need to be cleaned out or repaired, they said.
Bobby Phillips, Martinsville’s emergency management coordinator, said the only weather-related problem he knew of was a tree that fell across Orchard Street on Monday night and broke a utility pole, which was repaired.
Despite rain that fell steadily in the past two days, Phillips said the main weather issue seems to be that it is “just cold and nasty” outside.
Police scanner reports on Monday night indicated there was a rock slide on U.S. 58 near Lovers Leap in Patrick County. County emergency management and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials did not know of those reports until told by the Martinsville Bulletin.
After doing some checking, VDOT officials said that apparently only a few small, loose rocks had fallen — as sometimes occurs during major bouts of rain — and no major damage occurred.
According to the weather service, most of the rainfall should end by 11 a.m. today, but there is a slight chance of precipitation through Thursday night. The precipitation could include a little snow and sleet that night, but it is not expected to stick, the forecast indicated.