USA – Deadly Storms and Floods Hit Midwest and South, Mississippi River at Record High

A series of severe storms swept through the South and Midwest USA from 30 April, 2019, bringing tornadoes, strong winds, hail, heavy rain and flooding.

Two fatalities were reported in separate incidents in Oklahoma. Several tornadoes were reported in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas. There were also reports of large hail in some areas of Texas.

The recent heavy rain has increased river levels and the National Weather Service (NWS) warned that the Illinois, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers are forecast to reach moderate or major flood stage at many locations. Parts of the Mississippi River have already reached record levels.

Further heavy rain and severe thunderstorms are forecast. NWS said “An elongated front that stretches from Texas and the Mid to Lower Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley and Northeast will produce strong to severe thunderstorms and locally heavy rainfall; heavy rain will also be possible in Florida.”

Heavy rain is forecast over the coming days to 04 May 2019. Image: NWS

Flash Flooding

Flash flooding was reported in areas from Texas to Michigan from 30 April. A state of emergency has been declared in parts of Oklahoma and Michigan.


Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency on 01 May, 2019 for 52 Oklahoma counties as a result of severe storms that brought strong winds and heavy rain. NWS Norman said that areas around Atoka, Coalgate and Coleman recorded almost 7 inches (177.8mm) of rain in 24 hours to 01 May.

One man died when his vehicle was swept away by flood water in Tulsa late on 30 April, 2019. A second fatality was reported after strong winds destroyed a house near Bokchito. Over 20 people have been injured as a result of severe weather in the state.


Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Wayne County, which includes parts of Detroit, in response to flooding resulting from heavy rainfall. According to NWS, around 3.65 inches (92.71mm) of rain fell in seven hours to early Wednesday, 01 May, 2019.

The rain flooded homes and closed a stretch of the Southfield Freeway. Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans said the flooding had damaged approximately 3,000 homes in the county.

“Heavy rains this week on top of an already wet April have caused flooding and extensive damage in several Wayne County communities,” Evans said. “With thousands of homes flooded or damaged, we don’t have the resources locally to deal with this amount of damage and thousands of our residents are going to need help.”

Some of the hardest hit areas include: Allen Park, Dearborn Heights, Ecorse, the Grosse Pointes, Inkster, Lincoln Park, Romulus and Taylor.

“There was just too much rain, in too short of time given already elevated water levels in many bodies of water, like the Ecorse Creek,” Evans said. “Since the rainfall we’ve been working with our local partners to assess the flooding and damage, which is likely to increase, particularly if there’s more precipitation.”

Texas, Arkansas and Missouri

Flash flooding was also reported in Texas, Arkansas and Missouri, among others.

Heavy rainfall from storms on 02 May flooded roadways and caused closure throughout Central and East Texas. Four people were rescued from a vehicle stranded in flood water in Rusk County. Flooding was also reported in Waco, where the Fire Department carried out water rescues at multiple locations.

Some roads were closed in the Kansas City area after flooding on 30 April. NWS said that Kansas City recorded 2.99 inches (75.95 mm) of rain in the last 3 days of April.

Surface flooding was reported in North Little Rock, Arkansas, prompting the police to issue a warning drivers.

River Flooding

Many rivers throughout the central United States are now close to or above flood stage and parts of the Mississippi River have reached record levels.

Several rivers were already swollen from unusually high snowmelt and heavy rain during March this year.  Recent rainfall has caused levels to increase further, a situation predicted by NOAA back in March.

As of 03 May, there were over 30 locations along the Illinois, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers at or above major flood stage.

Earlier this week a breach of a levee in Davenport, Iowa, flooded part of the downtown area. The Mississippi River at Rock Island (Davenport) climbed to it’s highest ever level of 22.70 feet late on 02 May, beating the previous high of 22.63 set in 1993.

Rivers at or above flood stage in Midwest, USA, 03 May 2019. Image: NWS / NOAA.
Purple: Major flood stage; Red: Moderate flood stage; Orange: Minor flood stage
A Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River Western Flood Punt team responds to areas affected by a levee failure in Davenport, Iowa, May 1, 2019. The Coast Guard is working with Scott County Emergency Operation Center to coordinate efforts. (U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo)