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Inundated: Flooding swamps Louisiana, south-central US; rainfall in Lake Charles may be a 100-year event

3 min read
  • Over 30 million people are threatened by flooding this week in the south-central U.S.
  • A flash flood emergency was issued by the weather service for the southeast Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area overnight.
  • Cities that can be impacted by severe weather Tuesday include Dallas and San Antonio.

Flood watches and warnings remained in effect Tuesday for portions of the south-central USA after a day of torrential rain that left houses and streets flooded and cars stranded.

The National Weather Service said more than 30 million people are threatened by flooding this week across parts of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas, an event Accuweather called “historic.” 

“Rounds of rain and thunderstorms have inundated much of the south-central U.S. since Monday, especially for many in Texas and Louisiana, and relief is not expected until late this week,” AccuWeather meteorologist Adam Sadvary said.

Louisiana was hit especially hard Monday: The weather service said in a Facebook post that south Lake Charles in western Louisiana saw 12 to 15 inches of rain in a 12-hour period. 

A flash flood emergency was issued overnight Monday by the weather service for the southeast Baton Rouge area, where up to a foot of rainfall was estimated to have fallen, according to Weather.com. The Baton Rouge Fire Department responded to more than 300 calls overnight of people trapped in cars or homes starting to flood.

Parents use boats to pick up students from schools after nearly a foot of rain fell in Lake Charles, La., on May 17, 2021.

One person died in a car accident in Port Allen, across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, and another is missing after their car crashed into a canal Monday evening, Louisiana State Police said.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said the city didn’t have an exact number of flooded homes but it would probably be in the hundreds. Hunter was mayor last fall when the city was slammed by Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27, then six weeks later by Hurricane Delta.

Rainfall totals will probably meet the threshold for a 100-year event, Hunter said. 

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Twitter that Homeland Security for the state was in contact with local leaders about their needs during the “dangerous and potentially life-threatening” flash flooding.

“Please join me in praying for the families in Lake Charles who have seen so much loss already,” he wrote. 

This is the third-wettest May in history for Lake Charles, AccuWeather said. 

Louisiana flooding:‘Dangerous and potentially life-threatening’ flash floods, thunderstorms hammer Louisiana and Gulf Coast

Rain was expected to continue to drench the region through at least Thursday, producing numerous areas of flash flooding. “Additionally, the heavy rain may cause many streams and possibly larger rivers to flood,” the weather service said.  

Severe thunderstorms capable of producing damaging wind gusts, large hail and isolated tornadoes were expected through Tuesday night in central Texas and southern Oklahoma, AccuWeather said. 

Cities that may be hit by severe weather later Tuesday include Dallas, San Antonio and Abilene, Texas.

In the northwestern USA, winter refuses to relinquish its grip on the region: Rain and snow will develop over parts of the Pacific Northwest into parts of the northern Rockies over the next couple of days, the weather service said. A winter storm watch was in effect in western Montana.

Contributing: Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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