USA – Flooding Prompts Mississippi and Louisiana to Declare State of Emergency

A series of storms affecting parts of the southern USA for almost a week brought further heavy rains and flash flooding over the weekend, 11 to 12 May, 2019.

Governors in Mississippi and Louisiana have declared a state of emergency. Two flood-related deaths were reported in Mississippi, where flooding also caused a freight train to derail. Parts of Mississippi, Texas and Kansas were previously hit by storms, heavy rain and some flooding late last week.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said that the significant heavy rainfall over the last few days has led to widespread river flooding across southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. “Nearly all rivers are experiencing flooding, with moderate to major flooding expected in many locations” NWS New Orleans added.


On 12 May, 2019, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a State of Emergency for areas in the state affected by the severe weather.

Storms from 08 May produced some tornadoes and flooding across the state. The city of Jackson declared a local state of emergency on 09 May.

Among the worst hit areas of the state is Pearl River County. On Saturday 11 May flood waters caused a freight train to derail. Media also reported that heavy rains washed out roads and caused the deaths of two people in separate traffic accidents.

Some residents were evacuated from their homes in Stone County after flooding from the nearby Red Creek.

Other rivers are also high, in particular the Wolf River at Gulfport (Mississippi) which is forecast to crest at 15.5 feet on 14 May, above the level reached during the May 1995 flooding when the river crested at 15.39 feet. NWS said of the river, “major flooding is now expected.” As of 13 May the river stood at 11.31 feet.

Wolf River above Gulfport 13 May 2019. Image: NWS

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The severe weather also has prompted Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to declare a state of emergency. Storms brought heavy rain and some flash flooding from 08 May to parts of the state including New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Governor John Bel Edward said, “Today, I’m declaring a statewide state of emergency in the wake of the severe weather that moved across Louisiana on Wednesday, May 8. Current forecasts predict 4 to 8 inches of rain across the state through Saturday, May 11.”

“Fortunately, there has not been any loss of life, but the damage is extensive, and because we know the bad weather may not be over we are continuing to monitor the forecasts and ground conditions as well as work with the local officials,” said Edwards. “We stand ready to respond should the need arise. In addition, I urge all Louisianans to stay safe and prepare for the ongoing threat of severe weather across the state. Please avoid flooded roadways and continue to pay close attention to your local officials and media for the latest weather-related information.”

NWS New Orleans said rainfall was falling at rates of around 1 to 2 inches per hour in New Orleans late on 11 May.

In Baton Rouge the Mississippi River was well above Major Flood Stage (40 feet) standing at 43.07 feet on 13 May, 2019. The river is expected to rise further, possibly exceeding 44 feet. The record high is 47.28 feet set in 1927.

Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, 13 May 2019. Image: NWS

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway on 10 May. The spillway is located about 12 miles west of New Orleans and allows floodwaters from the Mississippi River to flow into Lake Pontchartrain and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico.

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