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

Story Highlights

  • 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 U.S., following a day of torrential rain that left houses and streets flooded and cars stranded.

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

“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 especially hard-hit 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 by the weather service for the southeast Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area overnight, where up to a foot of rainfall was estimated to have fallen, according to Weather.com.

Parents use boats to pick up students from schools after nearly a foot of rain fell in Lake Charles, La., on May 17, 2021. (Photo: Rick Hickman, AP)

The mayor of Lake Charles, Nic Hunter, said the city didn’t have an exact number of flooded homes but that it would likely be in the hundreds. Hunter was mayor last fall when the city was slammed by Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27 and 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 already the third-wettest May in recorded 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 are also expected through Tuesday night in central Texas and southern Oklahoma, AccuWeather said. 

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

Meanwhile, in the northwestern U.S., 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

Historic rains in Louisiana. Dallas, San Antonio and Oklahoma City are just a few of the other cities that could end up dealing with flooding this week.

Accuweather

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