Sunday, April 30, 2017

Major River Flooding to Persist Much of This Week From Ozarks to Illinois

Jon Erdman
Published: April 30,2017

Torrential rainfall Friday through Sunday triggered destructive flash flooding from the Ozarks into the mid-Mississippi Valley, with some river crests smashing records that had stood for over 100 years. River flooding will only worsen in some areas through the rest of this week.
(LATEST NEWS: Flooding and Tornadoes Turn Deadly)
Locations that have been hit hard by flooding are now experiencing drier conditions, namely southern Missouri, northern Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.
However, more rain may arrive in these water-logged areas by midweek, just adding insult to injury.
(MAPS: 7-Day Rain/Snow Forecast)

Current Radar
A flash flood emergency was issued early Sunday for a swath of central Arkansas northeast of Little Rock, where the National Weather Service said numerous bridges and roads were washed away, several homes were flooded, and multiple water rescues were performed.
Here are some of the latest flooding reports received through Sunday afternoon:
  • Doniphan, Missouri: Bridge over the Current River on the west side of Doniphan has been shut down due to river flooding.
  • Hazelgreen, Missouri: Interstate 44 has been closed in both directions due to flooding (located between St. Louis and Springfield)
  • Hickman County, Kentucky: Water rescue reported
  • Jonesboro, Arkansas: Emergency evacuations by boat prompted
  • Near Pangburn, Arkansas: Water in some residences
  • Lonoke County, Arkansas: Numerous roads flooded in the county; travel discouraged
  • Broughton, Illinois: Flood waters have isolated the town
  • Pulaski County, Missouri: One man drowned after his vehicle entered a flooded road
A total of 267 reports of flooding or flash flooding were received by the National Weather Service in a 36-hour period ending 6 a.m. CDT Sunday, from Oklahoma to Ohio. The majority of those occurred on April 29 and 30.
Total flooding reports received in a 24-hour period ending 6 a.m. CDT, Sunday, April 30, 2017.
(Data: National Weather Service)
We have a full recap of this flood event below. First, let's go into the rainfall forecast.

How Much More Rain?

Flood watches have been posted from Missouri to Lower Michigan.
A sharp, expansive southern plunge of the jet stream is slowly lumbering east.
Ahead of that, a deep plume of moisture is being pumped northward from the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. At the surface, moisture is expected to be oppressive toward the south, with dew points in the upper 60s to mid-70s.
The cold front and jet stream plunge are expected to finally speed up Sunday night.
By the time the front reaches the East Monday, it should move fast enough to preclude any additional major threat of flooding in flood-ravaged parts of southern Virginia and North Carolina.
While any stalling thunderstorm clusters can quickly produce 3 inches or more of rain in just an hour or two, the greatest potential for additional heavy rain through early Monday is from the Mississippi River Valley to possibly as far north as parts of Lower Michigan.
(FORECAST: New Orleans | St. Louis | Chicago)

Rainfall Forecast Through Monday

River Flooding Will Persist

Well after the rain ends, river flooding will last into much of this week as the volume of rainfall drains from small rivers into larger, mainstem rivers.
Already, record flooding has been observed in at least 7 locations. Some locations in southern Missouri shattered record crests that had stood for over 100 years.
  • Meramec River near Steelville, Missouri (previous record: July 27, 1998)
  • Illinois River near Watts, Oklahoma (previous record: Dec. 28, 2015)
  • North Fork White River near Tecumseh, Missouri (previous record: Aug. 1, 1915)
  • Big Piney at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri (previous record: March 19, 2008)
  • Jacks Fork at Eminence, Missouri (previous record: Nov. 15, 1993)
  • Current River at Doniphan, Missouri (previous record: March 1, 1904)
  • Current River at Van Buren, Missouri (previous record: March 26, 1904)
Particularly worrisome is Jacks Fork, which was about 7 feet above the level at which the National Weather Service (NWS) said flood waters would begin to affect the town of Eminence, Missouri.
Also, the Current River is expected to reach an unprecedented 20-plus feet above the level at which "water begins to flood homes" in Doniphan, Missouri, according to the NWS.
Historic, unprecedented flooding is also anticipated along the Current River in Van Buren, Missouri, which could rise to 14 feet above the previous record from 1904. The NWS says, "Large amounts of property damage can be expected," and evacuation of many homes and businesses will be necessary.
Downstream river rises are forecast along the flood-prone Meramec River this week southwest of St. Louis, the White River in Arkansas, the Mississippi River south of Dubuque, Iowa, including at St. Louis, the Illinois River in central Illinois, among others.
(MORE: Latest NWS River Flood Forecasts)

Current Flood Alerts

Flooding Recap

Sunday afternoon, National Guard vehicles got stuck attempting to reach stranded motorists in Thomas County, Kansas, the emergency manager reported. They were then restricted to medical emergencies only.
Numerous flash flood emergencies were issued across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas Saturday into early Sunday. Some locations saw as much as 11 inches of rainfall.
For a few hours Saturday evening, West Plains, Missouri, was cut off from the rest of Missouri as flood waters covered every road in and out of town. Power was cut off due to the flood waters.
At least one mudslide was reported. A mudslide occurred in Peoria, Illinois, on Highway 29 north of Mcclugage Bridge.

Several areas in Evansville, Indiana, were reported to be under water, where 4.37 inches of rain had fallen from Friday into Saturday morning. The downtown area of Reeds Spring, Missouri, was evacuated early Saturday morning as the water was up to a foot deep. Water rescues were also reported in multiple locations in southern Missouri and southern Illinois Saturday morning, including in the Joplin and Branson areas.
Elsewhere, roadway flooding was reported from Missouri to Ohio Friday night into Saturday morning, including stalled and stranded vehicles. Up to 3 feet of water was covering some roads in Glendale, Ohio, Saturday morning.
Radar estimates over 11 inches have occurred in southwestern Missouri and northern Arkansas.
Here are some peak rainfall totals in each state since midday Friday:
  • Arkansas: 10.54 inches in near Rogers
  • Illinois: 7.95 inches in Owensville
  • Indiana: 9.23 inches in Huntingburg
  • Kentucky: 5.54 inches in La Grange
  • Louisiana: 10 inches in Bunkie
  • Missouri: 11.05 inches in Houston
  • Oklahoma: 8.50 inches near Savoy
48-hour estimated rainfall ending 6 a.m. CDT, Sunday April 30, 2017.
This flood event was preceded by heavy rain on April 26, as a slow-moving line of thunderstorms triggered flash flooding in parts of the Ozarks.
At least one water rescue occurred in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Wednesday, and a handful of roads in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri were shut down due to flooding.
(MORE: Storm Damage, Impacts)
Prior that, much of a swath from Oklahoma and southeast Kansas into the Carolinas and Virginia was soaked one or more times since the middle of the previous week.
Some of these areas picked up over 6 inches of rain in that seven-day period ending the morning of April 26, well above what would be considered average for a late-April week.
(MORE: The Most Extreme Rainfall in All 50 States)
Departure from average precipitation for the 7-day period ending April 26, 2017 at 7 a.m. CDT. The wettest areas are shown by the blue and purple contours. Drier areas are shown in yellow contours.

Don't Underestimate the Danger

View of damage in the Albert Pike Recreation Area in Montgomery County, Arkansas, following the deadly June 2010 flash flood.
(NWS-Little Rock, Arkansas)
Flash flooding may not capture your attention like severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, but it can be just as dangerous.
(FORECAST: Severe Threat This Weekend)
In June 2010, 20 campers were killed during an overnight flash flood in the Albert Pike Recreation Area of Montgomery County, Arkansas.
In recent years, flash flooding has been the deadliest storm-related weather phenomenon in the U.S.: 176 deaths in 2015 and 126 in 2016, according to NOAA.
(MORE: Over 300 Killed in Flooding Since 2015)
Attempting to drive through floodwater accounts for roughly two-thirds of all U.S. flood fatalities. Never drive through flood waters.
It takes only 1 foot of water to float a vehicle. Once that happens, the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
Heed any National Weather Service (NWS) flash flood warnings this weekend. If you live in a low-lying area near a flood-prone creek or stream, be prepared to head to higher ground quickly, and make sure you have a method of receiving such NWS warnings, either via NOAA weather radio, local media or a smartphone app with alerts turned on.
MORE: Louisiana, Mississippi Billion-Dollar Flood August 2016

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