Severe storms lash Texas and Louisiana, flood emergency declared


Severe storms lashed parts of Texas and Louisiana over the past days, prompting the National Weather Service (NWS) to declare a flash flood emergency. Widespread flooding was reported throughout Lake Charles, which saw its third wettest day on record on Monday, May 17, 2021. Multiple days of heavy rainfall will likely continue to cause considerable flash and urban flooding impacts across portions of eastern Texas, Oklahoma, western Arkansas, and extreme western Louisiana this week. New and renewed widespread minor to isolated major river flooding is expected, and will continue into next week on slow-to-drain rivers.

Severe weather and heavy rains doused much of the southern Plains over the recent days, intensifying on Monday night.

Hailstorms struck several areas in Texas late Sunday, May 16, with some stones exceeding 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter.

In Lake Charles, more than 300 mm (11.8 inches) of rain was recorded in 24 hours ending Monday afternoon, making it the city's third wettest May day on record. A flash flood emergency has been issued for the city and surrounding areas.

"This is a particularly dangerous situation. Seek higher ground now," the NWS warned.

"The flash flooding throughout Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana is dangerous and potentially life-threatening," Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards stated.

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office also asked residents to stay off the roads. 

"CPSO has deployed high water vehicles and boats on both sides of the parish and we are prepared to handle any flood-related call we receive," said Sheriff Tony Mancuso.

"We are urging all residents to be vigilant and keep an eye on the evolving weather situation. We are also urging residents to stay put and do not travel on the roadways; driving on the roadways at this time is putting yourself in danger, along with causing damage to other residents’ property from the rising water."

By night, cities in Texas registered more than 254 mm (10 inches) of rain, with up to 406 mm (16 inches) reported in Fannett.

Images and videos on social media showed homes, roads, and businesses inundated in the same areas hit by both hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2019.

Heavy rains are expected to persist across the central and southern Plains this week, with the potential for substantial flooding.

According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda, "The combination of high pressure over the Southeast and a storm in the Southwest are going to work together to funnel a lot of moisture into the southern and central Plains this week."

"The flow out of the Gulf of Mexico will act as a fire hose, bringing a constant stream of moisture into the region for several days, leading to rounds of rain and thunderstorms each day."

Major cities are under threat of severe thunderstorms, including Oklahoma, Dallas, and Austin. 

"The repeated downpours are likely to bring areas of standing water and flooded yards, parks, and fields. If crop fields aren’t able to drain fast enough, there could be damage to some crops across the region, or delays in getting crops in the ground as farmers wait for conditions to dry out again," Sojda added.

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski also warned that if the amount of forecast rain materializes, a flooding disaster is likely to unfold, especially in eastern Texas."

Featured image credit: Katie Prejean

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