USA – Flash Floods in New Orleans, Kansas City and Las Vegas

Flash flooding has struck in 3 major cities in the USA over the last few days, leaving at least 1 person dead.

Parts of New Orleans recorded some of the highest rates of rainfall in recent history. In Kansas City, flooding submerged streets and closed highway I-35. In Las Vegas, one victim died and 7 others were rescued after flash floods in two areas of the city.

A similar series of flood events in cities across the USA occurred in August last year. A series of summer storms that began on 26 August, 2016 brought flash and surface flooding to areas around Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Colorado Springs, Denver, as well as Kansas City once again.

Las Vegas

A storm on Friday 04 August dumped over 2 inches (50 mm) of rain in areas around Las Vegas. NWS Las Vegas issued flood warnings on 04 August lasting until 05 August.

Clark County officials said via Social Media that six people were rescued from the Flamingo Wash area.

According to local media, 2 people were swept away near the Siegel Suites Hotel. One person was rescued. The body of the second person was recovered on Saturday, 05 August.

Social Media

New Orleans

In New Orleans, some neighbourhoods saw between 8 inches (200 mm) to 10 inches (250 mm) of rain within 3 to 4 hours on Saturday, 05 August. More rain is forecast over the coming days.

In a press statement yesterday, the Mayor’s Office said that “The rate of rainfall in many neighborhoods of the city was one of the highest recorded in recent history.  There was widespread street flooding across the city, including in Gentilly, Lakeview, Mid City, Treme and the CBD.”

There were no reports of loss of life. Public safety agencies including New Orleans Police Department, New Orleans Fire Department and New Orleans Emergency Medical Services responded to over 200 emergency calls related to flooding. Flooding closed roads at around 20 points across the city.

The heavy rain prompted the city’s pumping stations to be brought into operation. Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWB) said that “all 24 drainage pumping stations are staffed and fully operational…Residents are advised to stay home if you do not have to be on the road. If you must drive, drive slowly so as not to create a wake.”

In the event, Saturday’s rainfall was so intense the city’s pumping stations were unable to cope. SWB say that the New Orleans drainage system is designed to pump one inch (25 mm) of rainfall the first hour and one-half inch of rain thereafter. According to official figures, the rainfall amount recorded at 17:00 on 05 August included:

  • Broadmoor – 4.94 inches / 125 mm
  • Mid City – 7.81 inches / 198 mm
  • St. Bernard – 5.42 inches / 137 mm
  • Lakeview – 4.71 inches / 119 mm
  • City Park- 4.86 inches / 123 mm

“Public safety is our top priority, so we are advising residents to continue to monitor weather conditions and stay alert today,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “These no-notice rain and flooding events can be very dangerous, but luckily, there was no loss of life. Today, we begin the hard work of assisting those who flooded and getting our streets passable for regular traffic. With additional rain expected today and the rest of this week, I would encourage all of our residents to clean in front of their catch basins.”

Social Media

Kansas City

Flash flooding submerged parts of Kansas City, shutting down parts of highway I-35 and flooding other streets across the city. Vehicles were submerged and drivers left stranded by flood water.

Flash flooding consumed the roadway near 43rd and Pennsylvania. Photo: Missouri Department of Public Safety

NWS St Louis said that 4 to 8 inches (100 mm to 200 mm) of rain fell over an area of west central Missouri. NWS Kansas City said rainfall totals ranging from 2 to 5+ inches were observed across the area Saturday into early Sunday. As much as 6.23 inches (158 mm) of rain was recorded in Merriam.

Surface flooding has since receded and roads have reopened. However the heavy rain has increased rivers levels in the area. NWS Kansas City said that the Blackwater River at Valley City will likely reach record levels.