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Weakening La Nina may bring flash floods

Weakening La Nina can bring flash flood producing rain. Potential for widespread flooding remains average.

A weakening La Nina may bring heavy rain and the threat of flash floods to parts of Arkansas this spring, while the potential for widespread flooding remains average, the National Weather Service said Thursday.

“Weakening La Niña conditions are occurring, which can produce a period of early spring severe weather in Arkansas,” the weather service said in its spring flood potential outlook. “Impressive quantities of rainfall can occur in a short period … localized high intensity rainfall can create flash flooding at any time, even during times of drought.”

The National Weather Service noted that March, April and May are the generally the wettest months of the year, and “some level of flooding can be expected even in a normal spring. This includes widespread minor flooding at times of heaviest spring rains.”

This is “typical in the flashier rivers of the White River basin, lower White River, Cache River and along the tributaries of the Arkansas and Ouachita River systems.”

“This outlook is a good reminder for Arkansans to review their own flood preparedness plan and check their homeowners insurance to be sure they are covered for flooding,” said Deborah Tootle, associate professor, Community and Economic Development for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Last spring’s flooding in Arkansas caused $335 million in agriculture-related losses alone.

The Cooperative Extension Service has quick-tip disaster preparedness information available, including “Be Aware and Prepare: Flooding in Arkansas,” which can be downloaded here. Other emergency preparedness materials can be found here.

Arkansas appears to have rebounded from last summer’s drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Tuesday. Arkansas was 5.99 percent abnormally dry, the lowest drought category, followed by 1.16 percent under moderate drought, just .05 percent is considered severe. Compare that to the map a year ago, when all of Arkansas had some kind of drought classification.

The largest contiguous area of drought is in southwestern Arkansas. It includes all of Lafayette and Miller counties and parts of Little River, Hempstead, Nevada and Columbia counties. In northwest Arkansas, roughly the northwestern half of Benton County is abnormally dry.

The weather service spring flood outlook can be found here.

The Arkansas Drought Monitor map can be found here.

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