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New Year’s Day brings weather threats, including tornadoes as Kentucky gov declares state of emergency

GETTY/Mike Hollingshead

(KENTUCKY) — A tornado watch has been issued for parts of Kentucky and Tennessee on Saturday, effective until 6 p.m. CT.

The tornado watch warning includes areas devestated by an outreak of tornadoes that left 93 dead across five states last month.

The severe weather system brought heavy rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail and strong straight-line winds impacting much of Western, Eastern and South Central Kentucky, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office.

“The severe weather caused flash flooding, loss of power and damage of public infrastructure and private properties,” the governor’s office said in the release.

A total of between 2 to 5 inches of rain is expected to fall on Saturday, with a cold front arriving in the evening, which could complicate the response, according to the governor’s office.

At least one tornado has already been reported in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency Saturday due to severe weather across most of the state.

“A tornado touchdown was reported in Hopkinsville, causing severe damage to downtown businesses, and a possible tornado touchdown was reported in Taylor County, where numerous households have been damaged,” the governor’s office said.

Strong thunderstorms have been hitting parts of Kentucky Saturday morning, bringing a high risk of torrential rain and flash flooding.

“It is devastating that we are once again experiencing severe weather just weeks after the deadly tornadoes hit Western Kentucky. Sadly, some counties have been affected by both of these events,” Gov. Beshear said. “We will continue to monitor the weather and provide needed updates. Everyone be aware, stay safe and seek shelter when advised.”

Major flash flooding is ongoing in Pike County and surrounding areas of Kentucky as numerous flash flood warnings remain in place across southern parts of the state.

Flash flooding was also reported in Green, Barren, Taylor, Adair, Owsley, Breathitt and Casey counties resulting in road closures and water rescues, according to the governor’s office.

The threat of severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes will increase in the next few hours, with possible damaging wind gusts and tornadoes in the watch area Saturday evening.

Kentucky Emergency Management activated the State Emergency Operations Center. Personnel from the Kentucky National Guard, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Department of Public Health are monitoring the situation, according to the governor’s office.

“Please give way to emergency responders operating in numerous counties and stay off of transportation routes today if at all possible,” Michael Dossett, director of Kentucky Emergency Management, said in the press release.

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