Major Flash Flood Threat Looms in Mississippi Valley

The current round of thunderstorms hitting the Mississippi River Valley has been severe, and have already caused some flash flooding in parts of the Orzaks. There has already been one water rescue in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and several roads in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri have been shut down due to flooding. Despite this, the major threat comes from this coming weekend, with flood warnings encompassing much of the mid-west region.

The general timeline for this weekend’s flooding is as follows:

  • “Through early Thursday: From northeast Texas, northern Louisiana and western Mississippi to as far north as Illinois
  • Friday night/early Saturday: From the mid-Mississippi Valley to Oklahoma, particularly the Ozarks
  • Saturday and Saturday night: From east Texas and western Louisiana to Illinois and Missouri
  • Sunday and Sunday night: From the middle and lower Mississippi Valleys into parts of the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys.”

The greatest potential heavy rain threat spans the Ark-La-Tex region north through the Mississippi River Valley, goign as far as southern Ohio. This threat is expected to stay through late Sunday, keeping the potential for flash floods high.


Storm Moves into Mississippi

Forecasters are claiming an area including the cities of Jackson, Tupelo and Vicksburg which houses more than 1.3 million people is at risk, in response to the national Storm Prediction Center’s placing a large part of Mississippi at the highest risk of severe storms on Saturday.

The storm is expected to leave the Mississippi area by the evening. Forecasters say parts of the Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia could also see storms Saturday and Sunday.

Thunderstorms are becoming more and more common in the east coast due to the coming of the hot, humid summer months. The gulf region states are particularly humid all year round and have a tendency to experience intense, but generally quick, thunderstorms during the hottest months.

Lightning in Pensacola, FL

I wanted to share this because my little sister recently moved to Pensacola for flight training, and I always worry for her! She’s a strong and capable person, but she’s so far away and I can’t help but think about her wellbeing.

On January 2 of this year, an extremely intense bolt of lightning struck the road right in front of a driver, who recorded the incident on this phone. As you can see in the brief video, the strike had the potential of causing very serious harm to anyone or anything in its path. Luckily, no one was hurt by this bolt in particular.

As we have discussed several times in class, Florida is subject to frequent tropical storms, especially during the hurricane season months. These months generally include Spring through mid-Fall; January does not fall into this category of “hurricane season months,” or what we in Virginia would except to be thunderstorm season. So why was there such a hazardous lightning bolt making contact in Pensacola in the off-season?

This article documents a particularly strong wind storm that had gone through Pensacola the previous day. I could surmise that the lightning bolt was connected to this event. Strong wind storms like this one are by no means restricted to a defined seasonality. Of course, we can talk about the likelihood of a storm’s occurrence falling into a certain time frame, that being when the air and surrounding water sources are warmer and more likely to create low pressure systems with lifting, stable, wet air. But in reality, serious storms can occur at any point in the year, especially in areas like Pensacola, where the air is generally humid and warm all year long. According to this article an elementary school was damaged, but no injuries were reported. This incident provokes certain questions of mitigation and social response: no one was hurt, which implies some kind of evasive action (although the article doesn’t specify that any were taken), yet the school was damaged, begging the question of why it hadn’t been built to be more sturdy? An elementary school is a public structure where the entire community has an intimate investment, and an area like Pensacola should already be well-accustomed to severe wind storms.


Severe Storms in the Central US

A system of super-cell thunderstorms hit the central US yesterday and created several tornadoes that killed three people. The storm was very large and affected people from Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Even in New York City, there was a lightning strike to the runway which caused a hole and shutdown that particular runway. Many homes have been destroyed by the tornadoes, and even more have been damaged. Thousands are without power, due to downed power lines.

This storm system reached our area today, causing the high winds and the quick downpour seen not long after Wednesday’s Natural Hazards class. Here at Mary Washington, there are many scattered sticks and even a few benches have been knocked over, one by Monroe and another by George Washington hall. The sirens were used this afternoon as well, which I have only heard once prior to this.

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