Weather models indicate at least another 3 to 5 inches could fall as slow-moving showers and thunderstorms lumber east across the region through Friday. Flash flood warnings continued Wednesday morning in some areas where heavy rains washed out railroads and closed highways.
Situated in southeastern sections of the state, Arkansas highways 83 and 293 in Lincoln County remained closed west of Dumas due to high water, as are multiple stretches of Arkansas Highway 138 in Drew and Desha counties. Some towns in eastern Arkansas like Duce and Rohwer are accessible only from the south.
The flooding has also wrought havoc on agriculture, with thousands of acres underwater. That same region is under Wednesday’s high risk of excessive rainfall.
This comes after portions of the area were placed under a dire flash flood emergency on Tuesday, the Weather Service warning of “widespread flash flooding … with water over multiple roads and flooding homes as well as businesses.”
“This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation,” they wrote. “Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order.”
Flash flood warnings remained in effect Wednesday morning as the heaviest rains shifted into Mississippi, but much of the broader region will see continued tropical deluges through at least Wednesday evening, with signs that a few downpours could redevelop on Thursday.
The high risk of flash flooding are in areas drenched by heavy rains on Tuesday, marking where soils are saturated and can’t absorb additional water.
While more than a foot of rain fell Tuesday, it is unlikely any amounts would top 6 inches Wednesday.
A reduction in winds steering the storms means most individual storm cells should tend more “pulse” type in nature, developing, unleashing rainfall and raining themselves out before a new cell develops nearby.
“No sugar coating the short term forecast,” wrote the Weather Service in Little Rock on Wednesday. “Rainfall and flash flooding will continue to be a major concern … following an extreme day of rainfall across the Southeast.”
The multiday rainfall event began Monday, when heavy thunderstorms rolled through the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and dropped 2 to 4 inches of rain on the north side of town.
Meanwhile, a west to east warm draped across parts of Arkansas, serving as the focal point for additional thunderstorms and heavy rainfall, plus some severe weather including multiple tornado warnings.
That same cluster of storms ramped up in both coverage and intensity on Tuesday, with additional rounds forming and trekking along the slow-moving warm front. These storms dumped 3 to 5 inches on the south side of Little Rock before dropping a widespread 6 to 12 inches along the Arkansas-Mississippi border.
Echoing warnings on Tuesday, the Weather Service in Little Rock described the rainfall as a “particularly dangerous situation.”
Desha, west of Jonesboro in northern Arkansas, picked up 13.8 inches of rain thus far. Coffeeville in northeast Arkansas measured 8.86 inches as of 7 a.m. local time Wednesday, with 8.58 inches at Water Valley.
Per radar estimates it seems likely that even higher amounts, possibly close to 20 inches, fell just south of Dumas, but in an area where there were no rain gauges there to measure it. That is also roughly where the worst of the flooding occurred.
Areas under repeated rounds of storms Wednesday could wind up with another 3 to 5 inches of rain. Rainfall rates may top 2 to 3 inches per hour at times, leading to locally higher amounts.
The heaviest zone of rain will probably shift toward southern Arkansas, central Mississippi and northern Louisiana during the overnight hours, with the chance for a few isolated showers during the morning hours Thursday.