Several flash flood warnings were issued for parts of Arkansas and Louisiana Wednesday morning, after days of destructive flooding across the Northeast.
The National Weather Service office in Shreveport, La., said radar indicated that thunderstorms producing heavy rain could affect Columbia, Hempstead, Lafayette and Nevada counties in southwest Arkansas and Claiborne Parish in northwest Louisiana, labeling the forecast as “particularly dangerous”.
Between eight and 10 inches of rain had fallen since Wednesday morning, the agency said, with additional rainfall amounts of one to two inches possible in some of the affected areas.
“This is a life-threatening situation,” the service warned on social media. About 5,000 people could be affected, it said.
Shane Pendleton, a meteorologist for the Weather Service in Shreveport, said the agency has received “numerous reports of swollen creeks and small streams and causing road blockages resulting in vehicles being swept off roads” and “requiring water rescue” in the region.
“Never try to drive through water over the road,” said Mr. Pendleton. It only takes about six inches of moving water to knock a grown person off their feet, he said, and about 18 inches to sweep a medium-sized vehicle off the road.
“It can be very difficult to determine the depth of the water,” Mr Pendelton said, adding “what looks like only a puddle can have the power to sweep your vehicle off the road.”
The warnings for Arkansas and Louisiana come days after Vermont’s governor said flooding there was “historic and catastrophic” and storms in New York killed a 43-year-old woman.
Increasingly, experts say, heavy rain can cause destruction even miles from a river or waterway. Rising temperatures nationwide make flooding worse: They allow the air to hold more moisture, leading to more intense and sudden rainfall, seemingly out of nowhere.
Forecasters said some cities that could experience flash flooding in Arkansas and Louisiana included Magnolia, Hope, Stamps, Waldo, Lewisville, McNeil, Buckner, Perrytown, Rosston, Willisville, Bodcaw, Mount Vernon, Patmos, Falcon, Sutton, Lamartine, Piney Grove, Mount Moriah, Waterloo and College Hill.
Mr. Pendleton said that while rainfall in the region is expected to decrease in intensity, southern Arkansas and north-central Louisiana are “still struggling” with large areas of rain, and the already highly saturated soil poses ongoing risks.