Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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Creeks rise quickly across southern WV: Slow-moving storms bring lightning, hail, minor flash flooding: August 6, 2005

ABOVE: Mill Creek goes from normal flow to a raging, muddy river in seconds after a stationary storm dumped heavy rain in the mountains upstream.

EXPEDITION VIDEO: How fast can a flash flood happen? Watch: Watch Video Clip

GREEN SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV - A stalled frontal boundary was the focus for thunderstorms again in southern West Virginia on Saturday afternoon. The storms moved very little or not at all, producing heavy rainfall and minor flooding incidents.

Mill Creek along I-64 in northeastern Summers County demonstrated how fast a flash flood can develop. A storm developed and stayed stationary on the ridges in the extreme northern corner of the county, with torrential downpours, small hail and lightning. Streams and creeks on the mountains quickly rose as the excessive runoff flowed down the slopes. In Green Sulphur Springs, three miles downstream from the intense core of the storm, Mill Creek was flowing normally at around 5:00PM. Around 5:30PM, a surge of water from the storm runoff arrived suddenly, engulfing everything in the creek basin within seconds. The water continued to rise slowly over the next few minutes, before leveling off and finally receding.

The incident was recorded on camera (see video clip above), and proves just how suddenly a flash flood can begin. The high water on Mill Creek stayed below flood limits this time, but had the storm upstream lasted longer or been larger, the rapid rise in water would have been even higher and more dangerous. Flash floods are commonplace in West Virginia, where the rugged, steep terrain requires only as few as two inches of rain in an hour for creeks to begin rising out of their banks.

BELOW: Mill Creek goes from normal flow to a raging, muddy river in seconds after a stationary storm dumped heavy rain in the mountains upstream.

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