USA – Deadly Flash Floods in Arkansas

Thunderstorms and heavy rain brought flash flooding to parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma from 24 August 2019.

Among the worst hit areas was Fort Smith, north-west Arkansas, where police report that one person died when a vehicle was swept off a road by swift waters.

In a statement of 24 August, Fort Smith Police Department said:

“The flood victim reported earlier this morning is 47-year-old Debra Stevens of Fort Smith. Mrs. Stevens appears to have been delivering newspapers near the 5800 block of Kinkead when swift waters washed her car off the roadway and she was unable to exit her vehicle.”

Several other motorists had to be rescued from vehicles trapped in flood water in various parts of western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.

Some residents evacuated their homes in Fort Smith and Sebastian County. The Red Cross set up a temporary shelter at a local church. About 60 homes were damaged by flooding in Fort Smith, Lavaca and Barling.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported 4.04 inches / 102.62mm of rain fell in Fort Smith on Saturday 24 August. Accuweather said that “Fort Smith, Arkansas, has received over 8.50″ of rain since Thursday. They normally receive 2.59″ during the entire month of August.”

The Arkansas River at Ozark Lake Dardenelle, about 55 miles / 90 km east of Fort Smith, reached 359.4 feet on 24 August, exceeding Minor Flood Stage of 357 feet.

Arkansas River at Ozark Lake Dardenelle, 24 Augusts 2019. Image: NWS

Excessive heat warnings are in place for parts of Oklahoma. Further heavy rain and severe weather has been forecast from from Monday 26 August, 2019.

NWS Tulsa said: “Storms are expected to develop across northeast Oklahoma late Monday afternoon as a cold front moves into the area. Storms are expected to become severe with a risk of damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes. The tornado potential will wane during the late evening hours however the risk of damaging winds will continue. Locally heavy rainfall will also be possible and flooding may become a threat especially across east central Oklahoma into northwest and west central Arkansas.”

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