Dangerous flash flooding strikes Ottumwa

A vehicle is towed out of standing water on Iowa Avenue in Ottumwa early Thursday morning. (Chris Arbino/KTVO)


After speaking with Meteorologist Allan Curtis from the Des Moines office of the National Weather Service, rainfall amounts ranging from 5.52 inches up to 8 inches were recorded in Wapello County.

Most of southeast Iowa has been dealing with a devastating drought that has left some areas 10 inches below average rainfall for the year.

This recent storm will make an impact on the drought but won't be immediately felt.

The storm dropped the majority of it's rainfall within a two-hour period that over-saturated the ground, preventing the soil from retaining all of the moisture.

The run-off rain flooded low-lying areas, prompting the flash flood warnings and road closures.

The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor was released on September 21st, but will not reflect the recent rain because the maps are generated on Tuesdays.

The September 28th drought monitor will show the impact of the excessive rainfall, and Curtis is confident the next outlook will show areas impacted by the storm dropping down one drought characteristic (i.e. from Extreme to Severe).

While the storm has passed, there are still large amounts of water on roadways in southeast Iowa and according to the National Weather Service, just 6-inches of fast moving water can knock an adult off their feet.

When it comes to vehicles, just one foot of rushing water can move smaller vehicles, while just two feet of rushing water can impact and move almost any vehicle.

So always remember to turn around, don't drown when you come across standing water.

Torrential rain fell in Ottumwa early Thursday morning, leading to a dangerous flash flooding event across the city.

The National Weather Service in Des Moines issued a flash flood warning for Wapello and Jefferson County.

The storms were characterized by near constant moderate to heavy rainfall with frequent lightning and thunder.

A weather statement from the office indicated that 5.33 inches of rain had fallen on Ottumwa’s southwest side. As much as seven inches of rain was estimated between Ottumwa and Agency.

Ottumwa police reported as much as 1 foot of standing water on Iowa Avenue between Hayne street and US 63.

Deep standing water was located on Hayne Street between Iowa Avenue and Cherry Street as well.

Motorists became stranded in the area as one car was left submerged with water over the hood of the vehicle.

Police also shut down Madison Avenue between Wabash and Ellis Street as standing water completely covered the roadway.

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