The Cave In Rock Ferry is very near the point of halting operations due to a rising Ohio River and several roads in Crittenden County are being affected by flooding... and that list is certain to grow.
The ground, already saturated, has simply been unable to handle this week's rain and snowmelt. Creeks and streams are swollen, roadside ditches are full of water and backwaters from the Ohio and Tradewater rivers are up.
With potentially heavy rains forecast for tonight through Saturday, flooding is certain to get worse. Forecasters with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Paducah are predicting a 100-percent chance of rain Friday, with totals through Saturday expected to be anywhere from 1.5 to more than 3 inches.
Though a flood warning has been in effect along the Ohio River for days and remains in effect until further notice, the NWS has also issued a flood watch for the entire county from 6 a.m. today (Thursday) to 7 a.m. Saturday.
The Ohio River has overspilled its bounds from above Louisville all the way to its confluence with the Mississippi River.
Ferry operation threatened
The ferry is expected to close sometime tonight, according to ferry operator Lonnie Lewis.
The latest NWS-reported reading from 12:30 p.m. today indicated the Ohio River was above flood stage at 40.9 feet at Shawneetown, Ill. Flood stage at Shawneetown is 33 feet.
According to Kentucky Transporation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd, ferry service is generally forced to shut down when the river is at 42.5 feet as reported at Shawneetown. At that mark, vehicles can no longer safely negotiate through floodwaters along the extended approach to the landing at the end of Ky. 91 North.
"Lewis says the ferry crew will continue operating until after dark tonight to assist regular commuters with getting to and from work," Todd reported.
The river is forecast to rise to 49.8 feet by the early afternoon of March 20 and then begin falling. Heavy rains over the next two days could alter that prediction.
If the ferry closes tonight as expected, it will likely be closed for at least a week and probably longer.
The ferry carries about 500 vehicles between Kentucky and Illinois in an average day.
County road flooding
Crittenden County Judge-Executive Perry Newcom reports the following county roads closed due to high waters:
- Blackford Church Road
- Cool Springs Road
- Elizabethtown Ferry Road
- Enon Church Road
- Phin Croft Road
- Providence Road
- Irma-White Road
The list is parred down from earlier reports because flooding has dissipated in some areas.
"Some that had headwater are open again," Newcom report this afternoon.
However, the following roads are expected to be under water by Friday:
- Aunt Jane Tabernacle Road
- Axel Creek Road
- Blackburn Church Road
- Gum Creek Road
Motorists are cautioned to slow down and use appropriate caution if they encounter water over the road. You should not try to cross through high water.
If you know of any other places with water over the road, you are asked to contact the judge-executive's office at (270) 965-5251.